Aviation official states there is no double standard for airways
CIVIL aviation authorities said Wednesday they would write to the government on behalf of Siem Reap Airways to request a special permit for the airline to operate domestic routes under the same terms as government-owned Cambodia Angkor Air (CAA).
Mao Havannal, secretary of state at the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA), said a request in writing must first be put forward by Siem Reap Airways, and any decision to issue a special permit would need to be made at the ministerial level.
“We have asked [Siem Reap Airways] to request a special permit,” he told the Post.
Siem Reap Airways General Manager Terry Alton could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
The concession to the airline comes after the government was accused this week of applying a double standard, issuing rulings that favoured CAA.
CAA, which made its maiden flight on July 28 as a joint venture between the Cambodian government and Vietnam Airlines, has not been approved as an operator and was flying without an Air Operator Certificate by using aircraft hired on a wet-lease basis from its Vietnamese part-owner, the European Commission (EC) told the Post late last week.
The arrangement allowed the airline to bypass Cambodian laws requiring domestic airlines to have a certificate issued by the SSCA and at least one plane registered locally in every category of aircraft flown. The airline may then lease additional aircraft registered in another territory in the same category.
At the same time, Siem Reap Airways was struggling to obtain a certificate, as it had not been able to find an aircraft whose owner would allow it to be registered in Cambodia.
Siem Reap Airways General Manager Terry Alton said Monday that the airline would be able to operate “well before the peak tourist season” if allowed to fly under the same conditions as CAA.
Civil aviation rules
Speaking to the Post about the matter for the first time Wednesday, Mao Havannal denied that a double standard was in place, saying Siem Reap Airways could have applied at any time for a special permit to fly under the certificate of its parent company, Bangkok Airways, providing that the arrangement was permissible under Thai law.
He said CAA is flying under such an arrangement with Vietnam Airlines, as it is still completing local registration processes.
The arrangement is in full accordance with international aviation rules, as the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam has oversight of the operations, he added.
CAA would begin flying under its own certificate, and under the oversight of the SSCA, as soon as it could complete the process of certification and after it registered an aircraft in the country, he said.
CAA is currently at the second stage of a five-step certification process, but Mao Havannal said he was unable to give a time frame. “I am waiting for the technical team to give me a progress report,” he said.
He confirmed that Siem Reap Airways has completed all five stages of the process.
Efforts to get Siem Reap Airways off the ground are taking place as its parent Bangkok Airways approaches the end of its permit to fly domestic routes in the Kingdom.
The permit was granted in November when its subsidiary, Siem Reap Airways, suspended operations after being placed on an EC blacklist following an audit of Cambodian civil aviation by the International Civil Aviation Organisation.
Mao Havannal said Wednesday that any decision to renew the permit was out of the SSCA’s hands and would need to be made at the ministerial level.