About two months after Phnom Penh-based Tonlesap Airlines suspended its chartered flights, the local carrier’s future seems as cloudy as ever.
Vann Chanty, the director of air transport with Cambodia’s State Secretariat of Civil Aviation, said yesterday that the airline had not resumed operations and that he didn’t know when the company’s planes will start taking off again.
The airline, which also had a branch in Taiwan, operated flights from Siem Reap to destinations such as Taipei, South Korea, Hong Kong and Mainland China, according to its website.
According to an employee of the Civil Aeronautics Administration of Taiwan, who declined to be named because she was not authorised to speak to the media, Tonlesap owes money in landing fees to the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport.
“Tonlesap Airlines stopped their operation about two months ago because of not paying the landing fees to Taoyuan Airport,” she told the Post.
She added that no one was working in the Taiwan Branch of Tonlesap and no such company existed any more in Taiwan.
She speculated that in scenarios such as these, either the company had gone bankrupt or had started operating under a different name.
Earlier this month, the Taipei Times reported the Taoyuan International Airport Corporation as confirming that Tonlesap owes the airport about NT$1.66 million ($55,668) in landing fees. The report said the airline had not paid on time since
December last year, and despite sending out notices and fining the airline for late payment, there was no response.
Two employees at Siem Reap and Phnom Penh International Airport confirmed yesterday that Tonlesap was not operating any flights.
Industry website ch-aviation.com said in April that Tonlesap ceased operations “for the summer with the intention of refinancing” itself and resuming operations sometime in fall.
Tonlesap Airlines could not be reached for comment yesterday, as none of the hotlines for their Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Taipei office seemed to work.
A Post reporter yesterday visited the address listed on a website purporting to belong to the company and found no official trace of Tonlesap.
The sign still shown on a photo of the Phnom Penh office on the website could not be seen at its office yesterday.
Last month, the Post reported that Tonlesap had four planes leased from different companies from which it was only holding on to a Boeing 757.