Cambodia welcomes any US airline that wishes to operate direct flights to the Kingdom and promote trade, tourism and investment with the world’s largest economy, said Minister in charge of the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) Mao Havanall.
Havannall was speaking at a meeting with US Ambassador to Cambodia W Patrick Murphy at the SSCA office on Monday.
SSCA spokesman Sin Chansereyvutha told The Post on Tuesday that Murphy had proposed allowing US-produced Boeing Co aircraft to operate in Cambodian airspace and expediting work on an air service agreement between the two countries – under discussion since 2014.
“In regard to a Cambodia-US air service agreement, only two issues remain – first is technical terminology, which we may interpret differently but we can still open up to negotiation.
“Secondly, US companies want to conduct aircraft ground handling procedures themselves – this poses a bit of a challenge,” said Chansereyvutha, adding that the government has authorised private companies to do so.
He said US airlines want US companies to service their aircrafts while on the ground, due to security concerns.
“We suggested the ambassador to inform any US airline that wants to operate in Cambodia to schedule a meeting face-to-face with the SSCA, and we will pave the way for them to set up their ground handling services.”
“Direct flights between the US and Cambodia – in either passenger or cargo configuration – would be a boon.
“Our neighbouring countries with direct flights to the US have enjoyed a notable rise in bilateral tourism, investment and trade,” said Chansereyvutha.
US embassy in Phnom Penh spokeswoman Emily Zeeberg said the US and Cambodia regularly discuss commercial opportunities in different sectors, including exporting aviation technologies and services to the Kingdom.
“The continued growth of Cambodia’s aviation sector provides opportunities for local and regional airlines to lease or purchase Boeing aircraft – and other US aviation technologies and services – to meet rising demand. Currently there are no Boeing aircraft based in Cambodia,” she said.
She added that the embassy regularly discusses aviation-focused initiatives with the government, including the multilateral Cape Town Convention and a bilateral open skies agreement.
“The Cape Town Convention is an international treaty that, if Cambodia were to sign, would allow domestic airlines to purchase and lease aircraft more cheaply,” said Zeeberg.
Some 77 states as well as the EU have signed on to the convention, she said, including five ASEAN countries – Vietnam, Myanmar, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.
She said open skies agreements are bilateral air service agreements that help promote international travel between the US and its partner countries.
“An open skies agreement could allow US airlines to fly directly into Cambodia’s airports and help increase US tourism to Cambodia. The United States has open skies agreements with over 100 countries,” she said.
In February last year, in collaboration with Boeing, General Electric Co, and the American Chamber of Commerce in Cambodia, the US Embassy hosted a successful aviation workshop that linked US companies to Cambodian government and private sector leaders in the tourism and aviation sectors, she said.
Chansereyvutha said Boeing aircraft operated in the Kingdom between 1990 and 2000 until many airlines opted instead to use the EU-made Airbus planes.
Cambodia exported more than $1.083 billion worth of goods to the US in the first two months of this year, a sharp 46.96 per cent year-on-year increase from $737.1 million, said a US Census Bureau report.
Bilateral trade between the two countries totalled $1.136 billion during the period, up 39.96 per cent from 2019’s $812 million, the data showed. The Kingdom’s imports amounted to $53.2 million, down 28.97 per cent from 2019’s $74.9 million.