A senior official at the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation on Tuesday defended the SSCA against a statement by the European Union that the country’s aviation authority might not have the ability to enforce or implement international safety standards.
SSCA General Director Chea Aun’s defense comes after the EU on Friday banned Siem Reap Airways International from flying to the EU member countries and raised concerns about the SSCA.
“I appeal to visitors not to have concerns about flying,” Chea Aun said by telephone Tuesday. “Siem Reap Airways is safe…. We have checked the aircraft and they comply with the standards. There’s some minor technical issues. It’s not perfect.”
But questions still remain about the EU measure.
The blacklisting only applies to Cambodia-registered aircraft, but Siem Reap Airways has no such planes, according to the airline and the SSCA. EU officials in Cambodia have not commented since the Friday statement was released.
“I think there is some confusion,” Chea Aun said of the EU decision.
The airline wet-leases planes from its part-owner, Bangkok Airways, which is not on the blacklist. In a wet-lease agreement, one airline provides an aircraft, crew and maintenance to another airline. The airline borrowing the aircraft covers other costs such as fuel and airport fees.
According to EU blacklist rules posted on the EU’s Web site, such aircraft are exempt as long as the lending airline is not on the blacklist.
Lao Santi, general manager of Siem Reap Airways, said Tuesday that he has not learned why his airline, which has only two planes that fly mostly between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, was banned.
“Honestly, we don’t know. We don’t know what this means exactly,” he said, adding his airline had no plans to fly to Europe.
He added that he was unable to meet with EU officials in Bangkok on Monday.