Taipei Flight Suspensions Strand Taiwanese Tourists

Angkor Airways indefinitely suspended all flights to Taipei on Friday, officials said, stranding 459 Tai­wanese tourists in Siem Reap who were scheduled to fly out Saturday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

The action came in the wake of the May 1 arrest in Taiwan of the executive director of the airline’s Taipei branch, Alex Lou, in relation to an embezzlement scandal at Taipei-based Far Eastern Air Trans­port, which leased two airplanes and crew to Angkor Airways, according to reports. Angkor Airways, whose only flights are between Cambodia and Taiwan, owes Far Eastern Air Transport, itself a bankrupt firm, more than $25 million, according to Taiwan’s state-run Central News Agency.

Mao Havanall, secretary of state for the State Secretariat for Civil Aviation, said he first learned of Angkor Airways’ financial woes when all flights were canceled Friday.

“We just heard the news,” he said by telephone Sunday, adding that he will today request a report from Angkor Airways.

“I don’t know how long they will suspend flights or the real problem in Taiwan. On Monday or Tuesday we will get the real story,” Mao Havanall said.

“We have to discuss something,” he added. “Maybe we will ask another airline to bring them back.”

The operator of Siem Reap Inter­national Airport, Societe Concession­naire des Aeroports, learned Satur­day of the flight cancellations, said SCA spokesman Khek Norinda.

“The airline is responsible for redirecting their passengers to other (or partnered) airlines,” he wrote in an e-mail.

Calls Sunday to Angkor Airways’ office in Siem Reap went unanswered, and the carrier’s Phnom Penh headquarters was empty.

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