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Government Plans to Re-Open Official Airline

Cambodia has long been without an official airline, but officials said Wednesday they hope to change this.

Authorities hope a new national carrier will cash in on the country's growing tourism industry, which is one of its most important economic engines.

Tourism Minister Thong Khon said Wednesday that the Cambodian government was preparing to renew efforts for an airline.

"But it is searching for a suitable partner," he said.

National carriers in the past have been plagued by inefficiency and perceived safety hazards.

The last national carrier, Royal Air Cambodge, claimed bankruptcy in October 2001. The company reportedly owed a Malaysian share partner $30 million.

In one memorable mishap, a Royal Air Cambodge flight scheduled to fly former king Norodom Sihnouk out of the country was over-fueled. The wide puddle of jet fuel left on the tarmac was a lasting image for many would-be fliers.