Comments by senior civil aviation officials Wednesday cast doubt over the validity of a deal to allow direct flights between Taiwan and Cambodia.
Keo Savorn, a senior official at the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation, said the pact still requires an agreement by the national government. Negotiations are difficult, he said, because of Cambodia’s “one China” policy, which endorses Beijing’s stand that Taiwan is a renegade province of China.
“I’m investigating this information,” said Keo Sophal, director-general of the secretariat.
Opposition from Beijing made the Cambodian government scuttle a 1996 attempt to establish air links with Taipei.
Second Prime Minister Hun Sen last July vowed to consult with China before attempting another agreement.
There has been no comment from Beijing on this latest pact and a spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Phnom Penh could not be reached for comment.
The new agreement was inked last week between the Taipei Airlines Association and its counterpart in Cambodia, which is chaired by the chief of Kampuchea Airlines, Yin Chan.
According to reports from Taipei, the accord will allow EVA Air to operate four flights a week between the two countries.
The Cambodian carrier was not named in the reports. But one company, Angkor Airlines, has emerged as the Taipei-bound carrier from Phnom Penh.
Keo Savorn said the airline has received authorization to operate but flights cannot begin until an agreement between the two governments has been hammered out.
Angkor Airlines, a joint venture between EVA Air and a Cambodian partner company, could be flying the route as early as May, company representative Wang Hsin said Tuesday.
Wang refused to name the Cambodian partner but an aviation official identified it as a local company called Saing Dany, which has Taiwanese directors.
According to Wang, the airline plans to operate daily flights between Taipei and Phnom Penh using a 154-seat-capacity MD90.
Yin Chan, who directed inquiries about the aviation accord he signed last week to Keo Sophal, said the Cambodian carrier had yet to be chosen.
(Additional reporting by Lor Chandara)