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International aviation to review Cambodia

091023_09
An agent at Phnom Penh’s AOT Travel talks on the phone Wednesday. The civil aviation authority expects an audit to be conducted by an international aviation body next week will find Cambodian aircraft fit to fly.

Domestic aviation official says he expects ICAO to overturn audit that led to the grounding of local carrier Siem Reap Airways.

INTERNATIONAL aviation auditors are scheduled to visit Cambodia from Monday to Thursday to reassess the capacity of civil aviation to oversee flights in the country, an official said Thursday.

Sinn Chanserey Vutha, director of policy planning, legislation and cooperation at the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA), said he expected to receive a “not excellent but satisfactory” pass mark from the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) .

The audit will be undertaken by an ICAO auditor from Montreal, where the United Nations-mandated organisation is based, and the regional head from Bangkok, he said.

The validation mission will examine progress made by the SSCA to address concerns raised by the ICAO in its last audit, which ultimately led to the grounding of domestic carrier Siem Reap Airways.

The previous audit has not been publicly released, but an SSCA source said earlier this year that it found Cambodian aviation in breach of 107 international standards.

As the only domestic carrier flying, the audit led to the blacklisting of Siem Reap Airways by the European Commission (EC) late last year, meaning European tour operators were barred from booking customers on the airline.

Siem Reap Airways ceased operations in November as a result, and the SSCA removed its air operator certificate (AOC) in February the following year.

SSCA Secretary of State Mao Havannal said the European Commission was due to meet November 12 and 13 with regard to its list of air carriers subject to an operating ban.

Expected to pass
He said he expected the Siem Reap Airways to be removed from the blacklist following the meeting.

Siem Reap Airways General Manager Terry Alton said he was also optimistic. “That’s the way I would expect it to work, and I agree with the SSCA view of the outcomes,” he said.

The EC transport spokesman in Brussels did not return a request for comment Thursday.

Meanwhile, Alton said the SCCA had not yet approached the airline to ask it to request government permission to fly under the certificate of its Thailand-based parent, Bangkok Airways.

Mao Havannal said his office would ask the government to issue a permit for the airline to fly under its parent company’s certificate if approached by Siem Reap Airways. The airline is struggling to resume operations, as it having difficulties finding an aircraft whose owner is willing to register it in Cambodia, as required by law for domestic operators.

Alton said he would contact the secretary of state Thursday to clarify the position and determine a way forward.

Government-owned Cambodia Angkor Airways is currently flying under the certificate of joint-venture partner, Vietnam Airlines, as it has not yet been certified to fly by the SSCA. Flights are managed by Vietnam Airlines under the oversight of the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam.

Bangkok Airways Deputy Manager of International Media Relations Ekkaphon Nanta O’Sot said Siem Reap Airways had not yet approached the company on the matter.

“If Siem Reap Airways would like to operate under our AOC, they will have to approach us,” he said Thursday.

He said that the airline was preparing to stop flying domestic routes from Sunday, when its permit expires.

“We will fly the domestic routes until [Saturday,] and after that we are hoping that Siem Reap Airways will begin flying again,” he said.

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