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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Cambodia's Siem Reap Airways suspending operations

Cambodia's Siem Reap Airways is temporarily suspending operations, two weeks after it was put on a European Union blacklist of banned carriers over safety concerns.

A spokesman for Thai parent company Bangkok Airways says from Bangkok that Siem Reap Airways has halted all domestic operations between the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh and the tourist city of Siem Reap.

He says flights have since 22 November been operated by Bangkok Airways with ATR turboprops.

The spokesman says Siem Reap Airways' international flights to nearby destinations will meanwhile be suspended on 1 December.

He says the grounding is a voluntary one and it comes around two weeks after the European Commission added the airline to its list of banned operators. Siem Reap Airways does not serve Europe but the European Commission said the airline "does not operate in compliance" with Cambodian safety regulations and does not meet ICAO standards.

"Significant concerns have also been expressed by ICAO with regard to the ability of the Cambodian civil aviation authorities to implement and enforce the international safety standards," the European Commission said in a statement on 14 November.

The Bangkok Airways spokesman says Cambodian authorities are seeking to resolve the issues that led to the ban and Siem Reap Airways hopes to resume services in the near future.

Specific reasons for the ban have not been disclosed but Cambodian media have reported that it was due in part to aircraft registration issues. Siem Reap Airways' ATR, Airbus A319 and Boeing 717 aircraft are wet-leased from Bangkok Airways and are registered in Thailand.

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Wednesday spotlight: Nurse heading to Cambodia

by Shannon Maynard

Leah Blondke always has wanted to travel.

She is interested to see how people live in other cultures and wants to make a difference in the lives of others. So, when she had the opportunity to travel with the medical group Operation Renewed Hope, she jumped at the chance.

"I've always wanted to get a taste of other cultures," the 22-year-old Pittsford resident said. "I want to see what the world is like and learn from (what I see)."

Blondke leaves Friday for Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she will spend 10 days assisting a group of doctors on a relief trip. The team will set up clinics and offer free medical, dental and optometry care. Blondke will be responsible for triaging patients and assisting doctors.

While she has been a registered nurse only since June, Blondke hopes her experience at Allegiance Health will benefit her during her time in Cambodia.

"I've learned a lot working at Allegiance and I hope to be able to better assist the doctors with hands-on care," she said.

This will be the second relief trip Blondke has taken with Operation Renewed Hope. In May, she spent 10 days in Uganda. It was an experience that surprised her and made her realize how fortunate Americans are.

"I was impressed with how content the people were," she said.

"They didn't have near the possessions we have, but they were content — like they didn't know what they are missing."

Despite the long plane ride, food and different living conditions, Blondke is looking forward to getting to know some of the Cambodian people and help make their lives a little better.

"I'm interested in seeing how the people have recovered from their recent bad history and I'm open to learning everything I can," she said.

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