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.