Airport Adds Fees, Security

Airport passengers will face new fees and medical scrutiny as the government tries to tighten security against terrorism and severe acute respiratory syndrome, officials said Sunday.

Although they come at the same time, the new fees and screenings are not related, officials said. The Ministry of Health last week requested Ponchentong Airport authorities to reinstall thermo-scanners to measure passengers’ temperatures, in light of a suspected SARS case re­cently identified in southern Chi­na, said Dr Eng Huot, the ministry’s director-general for health promotion.

Eng Huot said Cambodia is taking only minor precautions to prevent an outbreak, as the international level of alert remains low.

“There is no need to ask passengers to complete questionnaires, because there is only one case, and we have not yet re­ceived recommendations from the World Heath Organization,” he said.

As of last week, the WHO had not issued Cambodia a health ad­visory, said Pamela Messervy, WHO program management officer. No cases of SARS—a flu-like illness quick to kill its victims— were detected in Cambodia during the outbreak that killed about 800 and sickened more than 8,000 worldwide last year.

Starting today, travelers leaving Ponchentong and Siem Reap-Ang­kor International airports face in­creased fees, said Khek Norin­da, communication officer for So­ciete-Con­cession­naire De l’Aero­porte, the airport’s private manager. The charges will cov­er in­fra­structure development, tourism promotion and in­creased security following the Sept 11, 2001, terror attacks on the US, an SCA statement said.

Fees for international flights increased about $5, while domestic travel fees increased about 50 cen­ts. For in­ternational travel, for­eigners will now pay $25 in fees to the airport, while Cambodians will pay $18, Khek Norinda said Sunday.

The Finance Ministry called for the tax to be applied last Septem­ber, but the government stalemate pushed it off until now, he said. The country’s two international airports already updated X-ray machines, metal detector frames and hand-held metal detectors, an SCA statement said.

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