Friday, August 31, 2007

Sokha Helicopter Airline opens in Cambodia

New Cambodian helicopter airline Sokha has begun daily helicopter services for the wealthy between several destinations in Cambodia, local media said on Thursday.

The new airline was officially launched here on Wednesday, during a ceremony presided over by Deputy Prime Minister Sok An at the site of a newly-built 500-square-meter heliport, said Chinese- language newspaper the Sin Chew Daily.

Sokha Airline is a branch of Sokimex Company Ltd, said Airline Manager Dy Vichea, adding that the airline's purpose is to offer national and international tourists flight services.

It has six helicopters, including two Ecureuil 550 A2 helicopters which can carry five passengers, and one Robison R44 helicopter which can carry three passengers, he added.

Sokha will cover six routes daily, including Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville, Phnom Penh to Siem Reap town, Phnom Penh to Battambang town, Phnom Penh to Poipet, Phnom Penh to Bavet and Phnom Penh to Bokor.

One way flights from Phnom Penh to Poipet cost 1,100 U.S. dollars per passenger, while to Bokor Mountain it costs 2,536 U.S. dollars, and Sihanoukville 700 U.S. dollars.

The rates may seem quite high, said Sok Kong, the airline's chairman who is also president of Sokimex Company Ltd. But he said that he believes that wealthy people will be willing to pay for the convenience and pleasure of flying in a helicopter.

Sokha Airline offers high-efficiency and high-speed services while also providing a humanitarian service, for example in remote areas in times of flooding and other natural disasters, said Deputy Prime Minster Sok An.

He stressed that the airline service can contribute to economic growth and benefit the tourism industry and it is a reflection of investors' confidence in the country.

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