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Sereyvuth vow on domestic travellers

Sereyvuth vow on domestic travellers

T ourism minister Veng Sereyvuth has promised domestic air travelers they will

not be left stranded in the upheaval caused by the creation of a new national

flag carrier - but he admits he doesn't know how he is going to keep them on the

move.

Current national flag carrier Kampuchea Airlines flies to Siem

Reap, Battambang, Stung Treng, Rattankiri, Koh Kong and Kratie

internally.

But Ng Kian Wah, chief executive elect of Royal Air Cambodge,

says the new airline only has plans initially to fly to Battambang and on the

lucrative tourist route to Siem Reap, which KA currently flies to four times

daily.

An airline source added that RAC is also likely to fly to

Sihanoukville and Koh Kong initially.

KA is to be wound up a week before

RAC is due to begin operating on July 1, which would leave thousands stranded.

Stung Treng and Rattanakiri provinces are virtually unreachable by road,

especially in the rainy season and would be effectively cut off from the rest of

the country, as they were before the flights began more than a year ago. Kratie

has been plagued by security problems on surrounding roads.

But Sereyvuth

said: "We won't leave them stuck. We will have to do something about this but I

don't know what."

Leading figures from the provincial government in

Rattanakiri are said to be lobbying hard for some interim air services to be set

up, otherwise trips to Phnom Penh would be an arduous trip by road to Stung

Treng and from there by boat.

The Rattanakiri airfield has a rough dirt

runway and only KA's tough Russian Antonov An-24s are capable of landing there.

But they, like KA's other aircraft are likely to be handed over to the Royal

Cambodian Air Force when the airline is wound up.

A source said: "The

airline is now flying twice a week to Rattanakiri and the load factor is getting

pretty high, obviously you are going to create problems if you suddenly stop

flying after creating a growing market."

Meanwhile the future of some of

the 500 KA staff still seems to be in the balance.

When asked about

them, Ng said their fate was one of many issues which had yet to be

decided.

Some 130 air crew and ground support staff will be transferred

to the air force along with their aircraft to create a new military transport

division, a KA source said.

Another approximately 150 ground handling

staff will be incorporated into a new company under RAC's aegis.

The

remainder are awaiting news confirming the formation of RAC and expect to be

offered equivalent jobs in the new company.

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