Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Aviation body breathes easier as audit delayed

Aviation body breathes easier as audit delayed

Aviation body breathes easier as audit delayed

The UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has agreed to postpone an audit of Cambodia’s aviation authority until June 2016 to give the agency more time to prepare.

Sinn Chanserey Vutha, spokesman of the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) said yesterday that his organisation was confident it would pass the audit, but had requested more time to ensure the best possible outcome.

“Flight safety management is not a challenge for us,” he said. “We can handle it, even though we have more flights, and we can manage the safety of the passengers and planes.”

“But we need more time in order to better respond on the protocol questionnaire,” he continued.

“We need experts to help us respond the right way, and supported by evidence.”

Cambodia fared poorly during its last full audit by the ICAO in 2007, falling short of international standards in almost every criteria.

Serious deficiencies were reported in the oversight of air navigation services and accident investigations, which were reiterated during a follow-up investigation last year.

The ICAO had scheduled a full audit for November 2015, with some aviation analysts warning that a poor review could result in Cambodia’s aviation regulator being “blacklisted” by the international safety body.

Vutha said Cambodia has worked to address the deficiencies noted in the last audit and was in a far better position ahead of its next review.

“The SSCA has strengthened standards and regulations more than before, as well as human resources,” he said. “We are confident that we will not be blacklisted, and that our score will be better than in 2007.”

However, the task is bigger. The Kingdom’s aviation has grown significantly in the eight years since the last full audit, with more airlines and far more passenger traffic. Tourism arrivals have grown from 2 million in 2007 to over 4.5 million last year, while the SSCA has licensed new airlines to handle the increased load.

Last year, the authority issued airline operation certificates (AOCs) to three Chinese-backed airlines – Bassaka Air, Cambodia Bayon Airlines and Apsara Air – prompting concerns that airlines were seeking to base operations in Cambodia because of its lax regulatory standards.

“As it is much more difficult to start an airline in China, establishing a Cambodian airline to pursue the China-Cambodia market represents a far more attractive solution,” the Australia-based Centre for Aviation (CAPA) said in a report issued in February.

Vutha said Cambodia will need to demonstrate to the ICAO that it is not cutting corners on passenger safety.

“We need to prove that we can inspect airlines to ensure they operate according to safety standards,” he said.

A failing grade could have a serious impact on Cambodia’s growing tourism sector, resulting in both restrictions on airlines operating in the Kingdom and a dent in tourism.

Ho Vandy, former co-chair of the Government-Private Sector Working Group on Tourism, said he was optimistic that civil aviation authorities were well prepared for the upcoming audit. He stressed, however, the importance of the review’s outcome.

“It’s like an exam,” he said. “If we get a good score, it will make tourists more confident to visit Cambodia. But if not, it will make them worried and turn them off.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Ministry issues warning over coronavirus outbreak

    The Ministry of Health on Wednesday asked the public to be on “high alert” as a new virus wreaks havoc across Asia. However, no cases have been reported in the Kingdom thus far. The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) has raised the alarm for its similarity to

  • Call for boycott of Angkor unacceptable

    Dear Editor, I wish to express my strong disagreement on the article published by Traveller for their website with the title Best places to go in 2020: 12 destinations you should avoid. Below is my opinion of the article. It is obviously free for the Traveller to

  • Probe underway after wreckage of drone with Chinese characters found

    Air Force Command spokesman Prak Sokha said on Sunday that investigations are underway regarding the wreckage of a drone that was recovered in Koh Kong province’s Koh Sdech commune in Kiri Sakor district. The wreckage has been taken to the capital for further examination,

  • Gov’t slams UN rapporteurs over Sokha trial statement

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Cambodia to the UN Office in Geneva deplored the statement of three UN special rapporteurs who claimed that Kem Sokha’s trial was “tainted” due to irregularities. The reaction

  • No power shortages next dry season, says energy minister

    Minister of Mines and Energy Suy Sem has assured the public that Cambodia will not suffer power shortages during the next dry season. Speaking on local TV on Tuesday, Sem projected a rise in power demand during 2020’s dry season – which starts in November and

  • Gov’t takes steps to lower logistics, transport costs

    With the threat of losing trade privileges in the EU drawing closer, the government is taking measures to reduce logistics and transportation costs to safeguard the Kingdom’s competitiveness. The EU is due to decide whether or not to withdraw the Kingdom’s trade privileges