European Commission Still Skeptical of Airline’s Safety Record

Siem Reap Airways International is banned from traveling to Europe and the State Secretariat for Civil Aviation’s safety record is questionable, the European Commission re­iterated Wednesday.

The EC on Friday banned Siem Reap Airways from flying to EU member countries and raised concerns about the SSCA.

The airline, however, responded to the ban by saying that it didn’t apply to Siem Reap Airways be­cause its planes are not registered in Cambodia.

The EC disagreed with that ex­planation Wednesday.

“The ban does apply to all aircraft on the Air Operating Certificate of Siem Reap Airways, which has eight aircrafts registered in Thai­land,” according to a Wednesday e-mail from the EC delegation to Cambodia.

The statement did not clarify why Siem Reap Airways was considered to be unsafe.

“The EC will continue to support the Cambodia Authorities to reach full compliance with the international standards and will provide technical assistance to that affect,” Cam­bodia’s EC Desk Officer Daniele Dal Molin wrote in the e-mail.

“Following the [International Civil Aviation Organization] Safety oversight audit and the subsequent air safety committee meetings of the EU, The EC has decided to include Siem Reap Airways in the list of carriers subject to an operating ban within the EU,” she wrote.

ICAO au­dits are not public.

Contacted by phone Dal Molin declined to provide details on what was unsafe about Siem Reap Airways.

“Cambodia has already done quite a lot improve the situation,” she said. “We are not in the state of discussing the details.”

On Tuesday Lao Santi, general manager for Siem Reap Airways, said that his airline was exempt from the ban as his company only has two airplanes which are leased from its part owner Bangkok Air­ways and that the ban applied to neither aircraft.

“I am sorry to say that in this concern I have nothing to say,” Lao San­ti said Wednesday referring questions to SSCA. “Everything is under the supervision of SSCA,” he said.

SSCA Director General Chea Aun said by telephone that he stood by his earlier statements and said the EC delegation to Cambodia is wrong.

“The EU officials here, they don’t have the skills,” he said.

The SSCA also released a statement Wednesday that said the main problem is the need for a better definition of responsibilities between the Department of Civil Aviation of Thailand and the SSCA.

According to the SSCA statement, the next update of the EC’s air­line blacklist is February.

“The objective is to reach conditions for a lift of the ban in the shortest possible [time],” the SSCA statement said.

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