Royal Air Cambodge Plans Millennium Flights

Royal Air Cambodge’s chairman said Wednesday that the airline still plans to boost service for Festival Angkor 2000, denying a news report that the airline has threatened to stop its flights if the government allows additional direct flights to Siem Reap.

Kyodo News on Tuesday re­ported that senior officials of the state-run airline strongly oppose the open-skies proposal, and have threatened to stop flights during the three-day millennium celebration.

“That’s not true. I’ve never heard of that,” RAC Chairman Pan Chantra said Wednesday, ad­ding that RAC is still considering increasing its flights between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap during the festival as well as offering discount airfares.

Recently, National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ra­nariddh and Tourism Minister Veng Sereyvuth separately urged the government to open Siem Reap as another international air gateway along with Pochentong Airport in Phnom Penh.

Pan Chantra had said at that time “it’s not a bad idea” because the new policy would give more choices for tourists and a free market would help boost Cam­bodia’s tourism.

“In my understanding, Royal Air Cambodge is cooperating with the government’s policy,” Tourism Minister Veng Serey­vuth said Wednesday. He added that he submitted the open-skies proposal Wednesday to the Coun­cil of Ministers.

Although RAC plans to in­­crease the number of flights and reduce prices for the celebration, the discount effectively might be offset by a planned rate hike. Pan Chantra said the airline may increase regular airfares by 5 to 10 percent, starting Dec 1.

He explained that the proposed increase is the first since 1995 and due to increased costs of aircraft leasing, airport charges and fuel.

“Everything has increased, so that we have to increase our airfares at 5 to 10 percent,” he said, adding the final tariff will be submitted to the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation by mid-November.

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