Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Tonle Sap Airlines suspends its flights

Tonle Sap Airlines suspends its flights

Tonle Sap Airlines suspends its flights

Local charter carrier Tonle Sap Airlines has suspended flights until June, in what appears to be the latest of a series of disruptions affecting the airline, which has also recently encountered financial turbulence.

The airline, which operates chartered flights from Siem Reap to China, Taipei, and Hong Kong, has suspended its services since April 29, and plans to resume them after June 3, the Taipei Times wrote last month. Chartered flights are typically hired via private arrangements with large tour groups or companies, while scheduled flights operate on fixed schedules.

It is not known how many tourists are affected by the suspension. A company employee would only say that the lease agreements for its planes have expired, so operations have temporarily ceased. “We will operate again in a few months but have not decided on the destinations yet,” the employee said, without elaborating.

Tonle Sap has four planes leased from different companies. The airline is still holding on to a Boeing 757, while its other Boeing 757 has been re-leased since last year to Nepal’s BB Airways, aviation data website Planespotters shows.

Meanwhile, its other two planes – both Boeing 737s – were returned earlier this year to its lessor, Slovakian-based Air Explore, said Air Explore’s CEO Martin Stulajter.

Since this period is not Cambodia’s peak tourism season, Stulajter speculated that Tonle Sap chose to suspend flights instead of “having its planes sitting there doing nothing”.

But finance issues appear to have fuelled Tonle Sap’s decision too. Tonle Sap ceased operations “with the intention of refinancing” itself, aviation website Ch-aviation said, without giving further details.
Tonle Sap’s vice-president, Ou Serey Sopheap, did not reply to the Post’s email yesterday.

In February 2012, a plane leased by Tonle Sap was grounded after its lessor, a Taiwanese airline, said Tonle Sap still owed it about $105,000, leaving more than 200 tourists stranded for ten hours. In September 2011, a flight suspension by the airline left over 800 tourists stuck in China.

MOST VIEWED

  • Police seek arrest of Chinese ‘gang’

    Cambodian police remain on the lookout for 20 Chinese nationals who earlier this month posted a video clip threatening to stoke insecurity in Preah Sihanouk province, though the Chinese Embassy in Phnom Penh maintained the group posed no threats to Cambodia’s national security. National Police

  • Rapper deletes song critical of Cambodian social issues

    A young musician has deleted from Facebook and YouTube a rap song that was critical of Cambodia’s social issues and announced that he will stop singing the song after officials visited his home in Siem Reap province and allegedly gave him a warning. Provincial

  • Man arrested for fake PM endorsement

    The owner of currency exchange company GCG Asia Co Ltd was temporarily detained by the court yesterday for attempted fraud after Prime Minister Hun Sen reacted to the company using his name and pictures to allege his endorsement of the firm. Phnom Penh Municipal Court

  • Sihanoukville authority orders structure dismantled

    The Preah Sihanouk provincial administration has ordered owners of two unauthorised construction sites to immediately dismantle them and warned of legal action if the owners failed to comply. Ly Chet Niyom, development management and construction bureau chief at the provincial hall, told The Post on