RAC Flights Back to Normal After Collision

Royal Air Cambodge’s flights are scheduled to be back to normal today, five days after one of its three aircraft collided into a fence during a routine checkup. The incident forced the airline to place several dozen ticket holders on competitors’ flights, officials said Sunday.

Repairs on the 60-seat ATR-72, which last week bumped into a wired fence in front of VIP lounge of Pochentong Airport, are scheduled to completed by this morning, said Adrian Sen, RAC’s chief operating officer.

“All we need to do is ‘skin re­pair,’ patch working specific ma­terials into the damaged parts,” Sen said. “The materials will come to the airport [Sunday] afternoon….Hopefully the aircraft will come back in operation [today].”

According to RAC officials, the aircraft ran nose-first into the fence Wednesday night while an engineering team conducted an engine test required periodically by civil aviation regulations. No one was injured, but the mishap left parts of the front of the aircraft damaged, Sen said. The engine and other mechanical parts were not damaged, he said.

“It was a man-made mistake,” Sen said. However, RAC has not determined who made what kind of mistake. “We’ve called for a technical inquiry to find out what exactly happened. We will decide what measures we take after the inquiry is done.”

Because of the incident, officials said RAC had to cancel several international flights between Phnom Penh and Bangkok, Viet­nam and Kuala Lumpur.

Passengers of the Siem Reap flights have been carried by RAC’s Boeing 737-400, and as many as 100 international flight passengers were transferred to Vietnam Airlines, Thai Airways and Malaysian Airlines, officials said. “We have 30 airlines working with us. Everything is taken care of by endorsing the RAC tickets to other airlines,” said Sithea San, head of RAC’s commercial division.

Officials estimated the repairs would cost about $5,000. The amount lost by having to make good on passengers’ tickets is not known yet. “This is not a problem of money, but a problem of reputation,” Sen said.

While other airlines see the transfer of passengers from one to another a common practice, travel agents expressed concerns over the incident.

“The incident could happen anywhere, but it’s very risky for our businesses because RAC has only [three] airplanes and they can not assure schedules,” said Tan Sotho of Hanuman travel agency, noting one of her tour groups had to stay in Siem Reap an extra day.

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