Sunday, 27 September 2009

No extension to Bangkok Airways licence

Writer: Boonsong Kositchotethana
Position: Reporter
Published: 26/09/2009
(CAAI News Media)

After the privately-owned Thai regional carrier was notified of the decision by the Cambodian civil aviation authority yesterday, it said the decision would have a minimal impact on its business.

Bangkok Airways, founded by Dr Prasert Prasarttong-Osoth, has held an interim permit to operate four flights a day between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh since October last year, when it started operating in place of Siem Reap Airways, an affiliated airline.

Phnom Penh grounded Siem Reap Airways last year after the European Union banned the carrier from flying to EU countries for failing to comply with safety standards.

Mao Havannal, the Cambodian secretary of state for civil aviation, did not explain why the Bangkok Airways' licence would not be extended.

But industry sources said the decision was meant to pave the way for Siem Reap Airways - a Cambodian-registered carrier owned mainly by local investors - to re-start operations.

Siem Reap Airways was grounded in November last year.

Terry Alton, chief executive of Siem Reap Airways, yesterday told the Bangkok Post the carrier was trying to get its operating licence back after meeting the safety requirements.

‘‘There is no indication that they [Cambodian authorities] will oppose our airline from flying again later this year,'' the Phnom Penh-based Australian executive said by telephone.

The airline would fill in for Bangkok Airways, offering four flights a day on the route, he said.

The Siem Reap-Phnom Penh route is Cambodia's only domestic route.

Siem Reap Airways was prepared to compete with the country's new national airline, Cambodia Angkor Air, which was launched in July as a joint venture between the Cambodian government and Vietnam Airlines, said Mr Alton.

Bangkok Airways will suspend four international routes next month as part of a rehabilitation plan to turn its business around after facing its first loss in 40 years.

The four routes being withdrawn from its network are flights from Bangkok to Ho Chi Minh City and Xi’an, which will be halted from Oct 25, while those to Hiroshima and Guilin will be axed from Oct 27.

The airline earlier stopped flying to Shenzhen, Fukuoka, Macau and Krabi due to weakened travel demand brought about by the global recession.

The regional carrier lost 1.05 billion baht in the 18 months to June this year.

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