10,000 air tickets useless

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 December, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 December, 1994, 12:00am

AN estimated 10,000 air tickets sold for flights between Hong Kong and Phnom Penh have become useless after Cambodia International Airlines cancelled the service on Christmas Eve.

The Consumer Council has not received any complaints but is ready to help ticket-holders negotiate for compensation.

The problem came to light when a travel agent said yesterday it was having difficulty getting tickets to fly 68 Hong Kong tourists home from Thailand.

The group, on a package tour, was originally booked on a Cambodia International Airlines flight to Phnom Penh on Christmas Eve, from where it was to fly to Phuket on another airline.

The agent, Marvey Tours, secured seats on other airlines to make sure they left on schedule.

But the company was still trying to book return tickets for all the tourists before the tour ends tomorrow.

'We were informed [by the airline] about the stopping of their service on December 23,' company spokesman William Lau said yesterday.

'We are unable to buy enough tickets for the customers in Phuket,' he said, adding there were only enough for about 70 per cent of the travellers.

From the Holiday Inn in Phuket, tour member Richard Hood said the firm had not told the group about the short-fall.

'The agent explained to us about the halting of the service but promised that they would arrange flights with other airlines,' Mr Hood said.

Marvey Tours has been a wholesale ticket agent for Cambodia International Airlines since August last year, when the airline introduced services between Hong Kong and Phnom Penh.

Each round-trip ticket was sold at about US$300 (HK$2,320), Mr Lau said.

He believed at least 10,000 tickets were still in the hands of travel agents and customers. He envisaged a flood of complaints when travellers discovered the tickets were useless.

Hong Kong International Airport Services, another local agent for the Cambodian airline, said ticket-holders could only arrange refunds in Cambodia.

The Thai-owned airline was grounded by the Cambodian Government in favour of a new national carrier.