Several hundred Royal Air Cambodge tickets were stolen by one of the national carrier’s staff, and dozens were fraudulently sold to customers through travel agents, a top official of the airline said Wednesday.
RAC Chairman Pan Chantra confirmed that a box of 500 blank tickets was stolen sometime last month and at least 30 to 40 tickets, more than $10,000 worth, already have been used by customers. Most were used on the airline’s more expensive international flights.
“One guy [employee of the airline] stole the tickets,” Pan Chantra said of the suspect. “We are not sure if agents were involved in this case….But they must be working together.”
According to RAC, tickets are numbered in sequence and stacked 500 to a box. These tickets are usually sold to wholesalers and appointed travel agents.
The airline discovered the scam early this month when it detected a big jump in the sequence of the tickets sold, Pan Chantra said. The airline was able to trace the customer tickets back to a couple of agents, who ultimately led the airline to the suspect, an RAC employee.
Pan Chantra said two supervisors who could have detected the scam earlier were suspended for two weeks and the suspect resigned from RAC. He added that the suspect as well as travel agents have promised to return unused tickets and the proceeds from the tickets fraudulently sold.
“We have filed the case to the police….For the rest [possible punishment of the suspect], we will leave it to the police,” Pan Chantra said.
Lek Vannak, the municipal judicial police chief, said Wednesday that police started an investigation last week and recently forwarded the case to the minor crime department. Ream Sarin, chief of the minor crime department, said they are investigating but no arrests have been made.
The scam was discovered about two weeks ago. The airline has since put into place systems to prevent customers from using the stolen tickets.
The ticket scam comes at a time when RAC also is facing criticism for canceling flights and changing schedules at the last minute. But industry insiders say the ticket incident is not unique.
“It could happen to any airlines,” said Amornrat Kongsawat, Bangkok Airways’ country manager. “But normally you could find immediately” if an airline has a strict control system on tickets.
One RAC-appointed travel agent said he was approached by a ticket wholesaler about two months ago who tried to sell tickets at rates 20 percent lower than usual. But he said he didn’t buy.
Pan Chantra said RAC will make more efforts to avoid similar scams in the future. “I suspected it might be stolen because it was unusual,” he said. But he added that he heard other agents bought the tickets.
“We have strict procedures, two or three types of control to protect from this kind of incident. We will enforce that one strictly,” said Pan Chantra.