The government has approved the draft law on the re-establishment of the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) to modernise civil aviation technology and enable rapid development of the industry including the management structure, in order to meet the additional requirements as a member of International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

The decision on the draft law was made on September 20 during a plenary session by the Council of Ministers, which was chaired by Prime Minister Hun Manet. The draft law on the establishment of the SSCA comprises 11 articles.

According to a statement by SSCA, it was developed, similar to countries in the region, with regards to infrastructure and air transport with safety, security and confidence accorded to passengers, especially in the protection of Cambodia’s air integrity.

As a member of ICAO, the SSCA must adhere to international standards in line with the framework of international obligations. ICAO has audited the Cambodian civil aviation sector and found areas that need to be supplemented in relation to the principles, management structure and the management of civil aviation. At the same time, the Royal Kram dated June 28, 2018 stipulates that the SSCA is revised and led by the Minister, accompanied by the Secretary of State and Under Secretaries of State.

The current SSCA has drafted a law on its re-establishment to replace the existing law, which was implemented in 1996, to enhance the process of controlling, managing and developing the civil aviation sector of Cambodia.

“This is in line with the evolving environment in Cambodia and the changes in civil aviation technology for it to be more modern and in-depth, including the management structure, so as to meet some additional requirements as a member of ICAO,” the statement read.

SSCA spokesman Sinn Chansereyvutha told The Post on September 21 that under the new draft law, the regulator would no longer be under the Council of Ministers, but under the Prime Minister’s Office and headed by a minister.

“Of course, with the draft law, there would be some updates to respond to the evolution of civil aviation and technology to ensure safe travel and compliance as we are a member of ICAO,” he said.

Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Cambodia chapter chairman Thourn Sinan said as the global and regional civil aviation sector develop, the modernisation of regulations is essential to respond to the evolution of the sector, especially to ensure the safety of air travel.

“We hope that with the law, airlines would invest more in new flights to distant destinations and accelerate the recovery of the tourism sector, which has not recovered fully since the pandemic,” he added.

Currently, Cambodia has three international airports in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville. The new Siem Reap international airport is slated for operation in mid-October this year. It can accommodate between seven and 10 million passengers per year and handle long-haul aeroplanes. Another new airport, Dara Sakor International Airport, which is being built with a capital investment of $200 million, can handle up to two million passengers a year and is expected to be open by the end of this year.

Cambodia first established a civil aviation office in 1955 and became a member of the ICAO in 1956 before evolving and being renamed Civil Aviation Authority in 1993. Three years later, the body was renamed the Secretariat of State of Civil Aviation.