Gov’t To Introduce Safer S Reap-to-S’ville Air Route

Future flights between Siem Reap town and Sihanoukville will avoid mountainous areas judged to be too dangerous, but the detour will mean flights last twice as long, officials said July 2.

However, they said it was un­clear when any air carrier would begin servicing the Sihanoukville route, which officials are still in the process of mapping.

PMT Air Flight U4 241 crashed on June 25 into a Kampot province mountainside en route from Siem Reap and only 51 km from Siha­nouk­ville’s Kang Keng airport. All 22 people aboard were killed.

“The new route is expected to be safer but it needs to detour around the area where we think it’s not safe,” said Him Sarun, cabinet chief at the State Secretariat for Civil Aviation. This is likely to double flying time between the two cities, he said.

Authorities had hoped the new route, which PMT Air had only begun serving in March, would boost tourism by linking the two tourist spots.

“We believe the new route will take an hour and a half while the current route was just 45 minutes,” said Him Sarun, adding that this will likely have an effect on ticket prices.

Following last week’s crash, PMT Air Director Sar Sareth had said service on all his company’s domestic routes had remained unchanged. However, he said July 2 that PMT Air had suspended service on all but the company’s international routes pending the results of the crash investigation.

“I don’t know when we can start fight service again. It depends on the situation,” he said.

Him Sarun said Sunday that data from the two flight recorders retrieved last week from the wreckage of the Antonov An-24 could be known in as little as two weeks.

However, SSCA Director-Gen­eral Chea Aun cautioned July 2 that this could take as long as four to five months.

“In my experience with the Vietnam Airlines crash of 1997, it took five to six months to finalize the black box data,” he said.



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