Cambodia Angkor to begin domestic services end-July

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Cambodia Angkor Airline, a joint venture between the Cambodian government and Vietnam Airlines, plans to begin operations on 27 July with flights between the country's tourist destinations of Siem Reap and Sihanoukville.

The airline will operate two ATR 72s leased from Vietnam Airlines and initially serve only domestic routes, says an official from Cambodia's State Secretariat of Civil Aviation. Vietnam Airlines has three ATR 72-500s in service and another 13 on order, as well as seven ATR 72-200s, according to Flight's ACAS database.

The official says that the frequency of the flight had not been determined, and it is still not clear which other domestic destinations the airline will serve. He adds that the Cambodia Angkor is likely to source for Airbus 320 and 321 aircraft in late 2009 and early 2010, and eventually start serving international destinations, adds the official.

The State Secretariat, which is responsible for civil aviation policy in Cambodia and operates its airports, plans to upgrade Sihanoukville's Preah Sihanouk International Airport, which used to be called Kang Keng Airport.

"Right now, the airport can take two Boeing 737s at one time. We hope to increase this by expanding the passenger terminal and extending the runway. We want to attract international airlines to Sihanoukville as well," says the State Secretariat official.

Sihanoukville is an increasingly popular beach destination to which many tourists arrive by boat from Thailand. Siem Reap is the nearest city to the country's famous Angkor ruins. Siem Reap and Cambodia's capital Phnom Penh are well served by international carriers.