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Siem Reap-Bagan air link deal delayed

Sum Manet / Khmer Times Share:
Tourists visiting the temple Angkor Wat in Siem Reap. KT/Mai Vireak

A deal to establish the first direct flight connecting the Unesco-listed cities of Siem Reap in Cambodia and Bagan in Myanmar has been delayed due to discrepancies regarding a stopover in Bangkok.

The agreement – which is being negotiated by Bangkok Airways, Thailand’s Ministry of Tourism and the Department of Civil Aviation in Cambodia – has been postponed after the Cambodian side said the stopover in Bangkok was bad for business and also “against Cambodian law”.

Sin Chansereyvutha, spokesman for Cambodia’s State Secretariat of Civil Aviation, told Khmer Times that a direct flight connecting Cambodia and Myanmar cannot by law stop in Thailand. He also said that a stopover in Bangkok is not in anyone’s best interest because it would make the flight less profitable.

“There were flights like this before [connecting Myanmar and Cambodia through Bangkok] but they were discontinued because they were not making money,” Mr Chansereyvutha said.

“It’s nothing personal against Bangkok Airways. No country will allow this kind of flight because they are not profitable,” he said.

“We are not saying that we categorically reject this kind of flight. However, we need to discuss every detail to make sure everything is fine.”

Varong Israsena, vice president of sales for Bangkok Airways, told The Myanmar Times that a direct flight between Myanmar and Cambodia was only possible if the airline connects via Bangkok.

“I don’t think we have the flying rights to flights between Cambodia and Myanmar,” he said. “Every flight taking off in Myanmar has to land in Thailand. Going directly to Cambodia is not allowed, as far as I know.”

Cambodia’s three main international airports welcomed three million passengers during the first quarter of 2018, a 26 percent year-on-year rise.

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