SIEM Reap Airways responded Monday to a European Commission ban on its planes flying to European countries by saying the order did not apply to its aircraft since they were not registered in Cambodia.
The EC last week added the local carrier, which only flies regional routes, to its list of blacklisted airlines, citing its failure to comply with international and Cambodian civil aviation standards.
But Lao Santi, general manager of Siem Reap Airways, said the ban applied only to Siem Reap Airways aircraft registered in Cambodia.
"As a matter of fact, none of the aircraft operating [Siem Reap Airways] services have been registered in the Kingdom, as they are entirely operated on a wet-lease basis, at and to international standards," he said in a statement.
A wet-lease is an arrangement between two airlines whereby the lessor provides the aircraft, crew, maintenance and insurance (ACMI) to the lessee.
The statement said that the EC exempted airlines listed in "Annex A" of the ban that operate on a wet-lease basis.
"Air carriers listed in the Annex A could be permitted to exercise traffic rights by using wet-leased aircraft of an air carrier which is not subject to an operating ban, provided that the relevant safety standards are complied with," the EC document states.
Siem Reap Airways is a subsidiary of Thailand-based Bangkok Airways and currently offers no air service to European countries. "We are studying the case now and will issue a statement, but we must verify everything," said Chea Aun, director general of civil aviation in Cambodia.