Direct Siem Reap Flights Hang in Balance

The new government is considering canceling direct international flights to Siem Reap, a council official said Wednesday.

“We are not going to cancel these agreements now, but we are studying their performance to understand how positively they…affect the government,” said Khieu Tha­vika, the Council of Ministers spokes­­man. “If it isn’t a positive effect for the government economy, we will decide to cancel them.”

He did not know when a decision would be reached.

Direct international flights into Siem Reap have been a point of contention since they were ap­proved in late 1997. A government agreement with Du­mez GTM, the French-Malay­sian firm that is renovating Po­ch­en­tong Airport, stipulates that Phnom Penh’s airport be the only international gateway until the year 2005.

The di­rect flights were a temporary measure taken for tourists  who wanted to bypass the capital after fighting filled its streets in July 1997.

Bangkok Airways and Royal Air Cambodge are the only carriers on the Bangkok-Siem Reap route. A spokesperson for Bang­kok Airways was hopeful the change would not occur. “Tour­ism is important…not only in Phnom Penh but also Siem Reap,” the local manager said.


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