Angkor Airways has suspended flights indefinitely between Siem Reap and Taipei due to financial woes stemming from the detention of a top company executive on criminal charges in Taiwan, the airline’s branch office in Taiwan announced May 9.
Alex Lou, executive director of the Taiwan office, was solely responsible for sourcing funding for operations and his detention means the Cambodia-based airline can no longer afford to operate flights, The Taipei Times reported, citing an unnamed company official.
Lou was detained following questioning by prosecutors in Taipei on May 1 as part of their investigation into an embezzlement scandal at Taiwan’s debt-ridden Fast Eastern Air Transport (FAT), from which Angkor Airways leases planes.
Taipei prosecutors suspect that top-ranking managers at FAT pocketed company funds and purposely let Angkor Airways delay paying NT$700 million (US$22.6 million) owed for leasing aircraft.
Angkor Airways operated 20-23 chartered flights between Taipei and Siem Reap per month and the suspension of flights stranded hundreds of Taiwanese tourists in Cambodia.
The airline’s problems were compounded on May 12 when nine Taiwan-based travel agencies filed accusations of fraud against Lou, claiming they faced total losses of more than US$3.2 million caused by the abrupt halt of flights, the China Post reported.