THE Cambodian government returned control of Cambodia Air Traffic Services (CATS) to Thailand’s Samart Corporation on Monday, company officials said.
Samart president K Watchai Vilailuck said in a statement that his company had been informed of the move by the Council of Ministers on Monday, adding that Samart had received “excellent cooperation from the temporary management” over the course of the government caretakership.
The government’s return of CATS “has signalled that the Kingdom of Cambodia is open and fair to the foreign businesses and shall win investors’ confidence in the long term”, the statement read.
Mao Hasvannal, a secretary of state at the state secretariat of civil aviation, which had been controlling CATS temporarily, confirmed the move, adding that Cambodian officials had begun preparing for the transition in late December.
The Cambodian government took control of CATS in November after one of the firm’s Thai employees, Sivarak Chutipong, was arrested for passing information about the flight schedule of Thai former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra during the fugitive leader’s controversial visit to the Kingdom. The nine Thai nationals working for CATS in Cambodia were barred from its premises, with Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan explaining at the time that the move was necessary “to ensure national security and public safety”.
Sivarak received a Royal pardon from King Norodom Sihamoni last month, just days after being convicted of spying in connection with the flight schedule leak.
Samart vice president of corporate communications Kanokwan Chanswangpuvana said the company was undeterred from doing business in Cambodia despite its experience in recent months.
“I don’t see any problems, because we still have much confidence in the Cambodian government, and we will do our operations as usual,” she said.