Agents Seek Airline Refunds

Travel agents complained Thursday that the indefinite suspension of Mekong Airlines’ flights could result in dramatic profit losses if agencies aren’t refunded for unsold tickets purchased from the company.

KK Travel owner Kim Kheng said at least five travel agencies are owed approximately $30,000 from Mekong Airlines for tickets that could not be sold after the company suspended its flights to wait out the economic blow that severe acute respiratory syndrome has dealt the industry.

“If it restarts business, we will sell out those tickets for money. If it does not reopen, we will take action. If the airline cheated us, we will not cooperate with them,” Kim Kheng said.

On May 13, the airline suspended all flights—33 per week.

Mekong Airlines President Heath Shen said Thursday that all tickets will be honored once the airline resumes operations. After attending a meeting with potential investors in Kuala Lumpur this week, Shen said the airline likely would resume operations July 1.

With support from a Malaysian investors group, which is considering investing between $15 million and $20 million into the airline, Shen said there would be “more than enough capital” to repay travel agents and other operators.

“We need the travel agents. They are our lifeline,” he said.

Kim Long, VLK Travel manager, said his company will lose $3,000 if it is not refunded for Mekong tickets.

Meng Hieng, Cambodian Association of Travel Agencies president, said the group will try to help resolve the problem if agents placed an official request for assistance.

(Additional reporting by Kate Woodsome)

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