The government will begin construction of the country’s first commercial-aviation training center by the end of the year, with funding for the $10-million facility to come from South Korea, officials said Sunday.
During a ceremony at the Council of Ministers on Friday presided over by Deputy Prime Minister Sok An and South Korean Ambassador Kim Han Soo, the Korea International Cooperation Agency (Koica)—the aid arm of the South Korean Foreign Ministry—agreed to donate $10.1 million to the government for a Civil Aviation Training Center (CATC), said Hort Sroeu, a local expert working for Koica’s Official Development Assistance section.
“After we [South Korea] provide construction of the center, we will provide training,” Mr. Sroeu said.
“We’ve never had such a training center but now Korea has offered us a grant to build one,” said Say Sokhan, undersecretary of state at the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA), the government’s aviation regulator, adding that construction of the facility on 8,000 square meters of land inside the grounds of Phnom Penh International Airport will begin before the end of the year.
Once the facility is complete, Korean experts will provide Cambodians with the skills to become pilots, air traffic controllers, flight attendants and airport security guards, Mr. Sokhan said.
“There are only about 20 [Cambodian] pilots right now…and they were all trained in the Soviet Union,” he said, adding that SSCA officials are currently required to travel oversees for training.
Ek Tha, spokesman for the Press and Quick Reaction Unit at the Council of Ministers, said Sunday that the CATC will not only serve the country’s nascent aviation sector, but the economy as a whole.
“From my understanding, the civil aviation sector plays a key role in contributing to attract tourism to Cambodia and improving the economy,” Mr. Tha said.
“Cambodia welcomes all ODA [official development assistance] to improve Cambodia,” he said.
Cambodia is the second largest recipient of South Korean aid, after Afghanistan, according to Koica. Between 1991 and 2012, South Korean-funded projects in Cambodia totaled $105 million, and are expected to reach $24 million this year alone.
Last year, trade between the two countries neared $1 billion, nearly double that of 2011.