Severe storms over Phnom Penh caused air traffic havoc on Monday, with airplanes having to be diverted to Vietnam and other neighboring countries.
Malaysia Airlines was one flight impacted by the afternoon’s heavy storms. It departed Kuala Lumpur at 4.30pm Malaysian time and was due to land in the Cambodian capital at 5.35pm.
However, ahead of landing, it spent two hours circling Cambodia before being redirected to Ho Chi Minh City due to the plane running out of fuel.
It spent another hour waiting on the runway before being given the green light to return to Phnom Penh, arriving at just after 9pm.
Passenger Chay Sothy, who was returning from a business trip in Malaysia, said, “I was a bit scared because the turbulence was very strong at times and we almost got thrown out of our seats.
“It was not ideal as I wanted to get home to my family after not seeing them for a week, but I understand that our safety is more important and the pilot kept us informed. They had no choice.”
A Cambodia Airports spokesman confirmed another flight from Kunming, operated by China Eastern, was also diverted to Vietnam. He added that between 5.30pm and 7.30pm another four flights - three from Bangkok and one from HCMC - were held.
“Overall, it’s not unusual to have flight diversion due to challenging weather conditions,” the spokesman said. “But never at the scale of what, for instance, happened in Hong Kong and Taipei.”
Severe typhoons in recent months have caused huge disruption to flights there.