The Cambodian government has asked Aircraft Maintenance and Engineering Corp (Ameco) to consider investing in the Kingdom, as the local civil aviation sector registers remarkable growth. The Beijing-based firm has reportedly signalled that it may take up the offer.
The proposal was made during a visit by Minister in Charge of the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) Mao Havannall to Ameco’s offices in Beijing, China on April 26, as SSCA undersecretary of state and spokesman Sinn Chanserey Vutha recounted to The Post a day later.
Havannall met with Ameco CEO Ni Jiliang to gain better insight into the firm’s aircraft maintenance and aviation engineering business operations and performance.
Established in 1989, Ameco is a joint venture between Chinese flag carrier Air China Ltd and Lufthansa German Airlines on a 75:25 basis, according to ameco.com.cn.
Chanserey Vutha said that the delegation invited Ameco to conduct a feasibility study for an aircraft maintenance workshop or similar investment in the Kingdom, suggesting that it set up base around the new Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport, which is scheduled to go online in October.
“The presence of internationally recognised aviation repair and maintenance workshops in Cambodia can lead to economic growth and, in particular, help Cambodia’s civil aviation sector to grow and develop to another level”, potentially ensuring that it is competitive with regional countries, he said.
He claimed that Ameco had agreed to send a technical team at an unspecified date in the “near future” to look into setting up an aircraft repair and maintenance workshop at the new Siem Reap airport.
Chanserey Vutha said that Ameco currently employs about 11,000 people and provides services such as: “aircraft line maintenance, aircraft overhaul, PTF [passenger-to-freighter] conversion, aircraft engine overhaul, landing gear services, cabin solutions, engineering services, [and] aircraft component services”.
Meanwhile, the SSCA’s Havannall and Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) administrator Song Zhiyong on April 25 signed a cooperation agreement on aviation safety.
At an accompanying meeting, Havannall asked the Chinese side to give priority to relaunching previously operated direct flights between the two countries and adding new ones to at least reach the 300-a-week target, as Beijing reopens its economy.
According to Havannall, there had been “more than 400” weekly flights prior to Covid, operated by 22 airlines and connecting Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville with 37 Chinese destinations.
There are currently “around 100” weekly flights operated by 11 airlines – three from Cambodia and eight from China, he noted.
According to the Ministry of Tourism, Cambodia received nearly 2.28 million international visitors in 2022, up 1,059 per cent over a year earlier, but down 65.56 per cent from the all-time high booked in 2019.
The ministry tallied 837,446 international visitors in the first two months of 2023, up 778.6 per cent from the 95,321 recorded in the same period last year, but still down 32.72 per cent from the 1.245 million counted in January-February 2019.
Thailand accounted for the largest share of these travellers, at 274,950 or 32.83 per cent, which was up 950.7 per cent year-on-year, followed by Vietnam (131,196; 15.67%; up 396.4%), mainland China (79,435; 9.49%; up 1,347.2%) and Laos (41,040; 4.90%; up 16,719.7%).