Phnom Penh - Cambodia launched a new heliport and helicopter airline on the Vietnam border, officials said Thursday. Svay Rieng province transport official, Sao Sokuy, said the heliport was officially opened and Sokha Airline simultaneously launched Wednesday in a ceremony presided over by Deputy Prime Minister Sok An.
Sokha Airlines is a subsidiary of Sokimex Company Ltd, a regional petroleum giant which has recently begun diversifying its assets into areas including luxury hotels and resorts at both the pristine beaches of Sihanoukville and the Siem Reap gateway to the Angkor Wat temple complex. Sokuy said the heliport covers three hectares.
Sokha Airlines comprises six helicopters, including two Ecureuil (Squirrel) 550 A2 machines with a five-passenger capacity and a four-seater Robinson R44. Sokimex CEO Sok Khong declined to comment on speculation that the heliport, located in a remote area of the country with few tourist attractions and nearly 150 kilometers from the capital, was being set up in anticipation of a new resort and golf course which will straddle the Vietnam-Cambodia border.
Sokha Airlines will fly from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville, Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, Phnom Penh to Cambodia's second city of Battambang, Phnom Penh to the Thai-Cambodia border crossing of Poipet, Phnom Penh to the Vietnam-Cambodia border crossing of Bavet and Phnom Penh to the former French colonial hill station of Bokor. Tickets are priced from 700 dollars but range up to 2,500 dollars one-way, making the comfort and convenience of helicopter travel in the country a luxury reserved only for the very wealthy.