9 Taipei Firms Suing Airline for Closure Losses

Nine Taipei-based travel agencies are claiming millions of dollars in losses due to Angkor Airways’ indefinite closure Friday, which stranded 449 tourists in Siem Reap, according to reports.

The suit against Alex Lou, executive director of the airline’s Taipei branch, was filed Monday at the Taipei District Prosecutors Office, according to Taiwan’s state-run Central News Agency. Lou is ac­cused of fraud and of causing more than $3.2 million in losses to the nine travel agencies, CNA reported.

An official at the Travel Agent Association of the Republic of China Taiwan, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of the nine travel agencies, said by telephone from Taipei on Wednesday that executives were in meetings all day and unavailable for comment.

Until Angkor’s abrupt closure, it had flown four to five flights weekly between Siem Reap and Taipei. The impact of the closure on Cambodian travel agencies and businesses will be minimal, Tourism Working Group Co-Chair Ho Vandy said.

“It is not of too much concern to the local operators. The most affected are the tour operators in Taiwan,” he said.

Lou has been in detention since his May 1 arrest in relation to an alleged embezzlement scandal at Far Eastern Air Transport, itself a bank­rupt company that stranded more than 2,000 passengers when it ceased operations Tuesday, CNA reported.

All 449 of Angkor Airway’s stranded passengers have now returned to Taipei, Secretariat of Civil Aviation Secretary of State Mao Havanall said Wednesday.

Some rebooked flights and returned to Taipei on Saturday, and the remainder flew home Tuesday in an aircraft chartered by Angkor Air­ways from China Airlines, Mao Havanall said.

“All passengers have returned,” he said.

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