To pay off the estimated $50 million debt owed from the anti-Thai riots in 2002, the government will pay Thailand $4 million annually from income earned from air traffic control services, officials said this week.
Sinn Chansereyvutha, director of planning and policy at the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation, said the government’s joint venture company—Air Traffic Control Service—with Thailand’s Samart company earned more than $14 million last year.
Of Cambodia’s share of nearly $8 million in annual profits, half is being used to pay the anti-Thai riot compensation, he said.
“We owe them so we have to pay them,” Sinn Chansereyvutha said on Wednesday at the sidelines of the seventh meeting of director generals of civil aviation from Cambodia, Laos, Burma and Vietnam.
More than 18,000 airlines traveled through Cambodian airspace last year, and 14 foreign airlines now serve the country’s two international airports, accounting for some 445 flights each week, the civil aviation secretariat stated in a report presented to the meeting. The secretariat also noted that the more than 1 million people who visited Cambodia last year created direct employment for 3,000 people and indirect employment for thousands more.
Total income earned from Cambodia’s civil aviation and related services was over $25 million in 2004, the majority of which was absorbed by staff salaries and airport operation costs, according to the report.
The three-day civil aviation meeting in Phnom Penh, which ends today, is focused on improving air transport, passenger and cargo services between Cambodia, Laos, Burma and Vietnam.
Participants at the meeting also agreed to make a priority of opening direct air links between Burma and the three other three member countries. Airlines operating in the four countries were asked to conduct market surveys to assess the possibility of the proposal, according to a report from the meeting.