SRP lawmakers requested in a letter to the National Assembly last week that Deputy Prime Minister Sok An explain Cambodia Angkor Air’s lack of services to Preah Sihanouk province, and accused Vietnam Airlines officials of intentionally damaging Cambodian tourism.
The lack of flights to the seashore offered by the national carrier, in which Vietnam Airlines holds a 49 percent stake, has been the object of much speculation among tourism and aviation experts. Even though the airport in Preah Sihanouk province was deemed to meet international standards a year and a half ago by the Societe Concessionnaire des Aeroports, no regularly scheduled flights have yet been announced.
“Vietnam Airlines has an influence on the management and decision-making at Cambodia Angkor Air and does not want Preah Sihanouk province and the Khmer coastal area to be a tourism area able to compete with Vietnamese island regions like Phu Quoc,” read the lawmakers’ letter, which was posted to the SRP website.
SRP spokesman Yim Sovann reiterated the accusations against Vietnam Airlines yesterday, saying that the government must give more thought to competition and the potential economic boon offered by flights to the coast. The airline currently only services Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.
“We have the infrastructure, and the flight will help transport the tourists who come to Cambodia and allow people to make more money,” said SRP spokesman Yim Sovann.
Tourism Minister Thong Khon agreed that flights to Preah Sihanouk could help Cambodia bring in more money, but said the reason for the lack of service was probably just that CAA has only been operating for a little over a year.
“I want to get these flights started quickly,” said Mr Khon. “If we have this flight, it will be easier for tourists to connect from Angkor to the coast.”
Ho Vandy, co-president of the government-private sector tourism working group, yesterday urged CAA to prepare a flight plan as quickly as possible.
“If we have an airport and no flights, it will drive away investment capital,” said Mr Vandy.
CAA CEO Trinh Ngoc Thanh could not be reached yesterday for comment.