Siem Reap Airways Says EU Ban Not Applicable

In a statement issued Monday, Siem Reap Airways International defended itself against the Euro­pean Union’s decision to blacklist the carrier, saying that the ban is only subject to aircraft registered in Cambodia, of which the carrier has none.

“As a matter of fact, none of the aircraft operating [Siem Reap Air­ways International] services has been registered in the Kingdom, as they are entirely operated on a wet-leased basis, at and to international standards,” the statement quoted Siem Reap Airways Gen­eral Mana­ger Lao Santi as saying.

A “wet lease” is an agreement whereby 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 from being blacklisted if the air carriers they come from are not banned. Siem Reap Airways is a subsidiary of Bangkok Airways but is registered as a company in Cam­bodia. It has no flights to Europe.

The blacklist, released Friday, in­cluded the airline on a list of carriers forbidden from flying to Europe because of safety concerns.

Lao Santi said by telephone that he was meeting with EU officials in Bangkok on Monday, be­fore de­cli­ning to comment further.

EU officials in Cambodia were un­available for comment Mon­day, ac­cording to a European Com­mis­sion spokeswoman.

The Civil Aviation Secretariat bore some of the brunt of the EU blacklist news release, which said: “Significant concerns have al­so been expressed by [the International Civil Aviation Organization] with re­gard to the ability of Cambodian civil aviation authorities to implement and enforce the international safety standards.”

Officials from the Civil Aviation Sec­retariat declined to comment Monday despite some officials Sun­day saying they would have an official response.

Civil Aviation Undersecretary of State Say Sokhan on Monday re­fer­red questions to Director-Gen­eral Chea Aun who said he was “working on the case,” be­fore declining to comment further.

Khek Norinda, spokesman for So­ciete Concessionaire Des Aero­ports, which operates airports in Siem Reap, Phnom Penh and Si­han­oukville, defended the airline as being well run.

“Their aircraft is maintained in line with international standards,” he wrote in an e-mail Monday.

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