Thai aviation maintenance firm AMEE wants to open a training school in Cambodia for pilots and aircraft maintenance engineers, in a bid to ameliorate the skills deficiency in the aviation industry.

The plan was revealed on June 13, at a meeting between Aviation Maintenance Expert Enterprise Co Ltd (AMEE), a partner JFT Jet – a private airline company – and Techo Sen Institute of Public Works and Transport (TSI), a unit under the Ministry of Public Works and Transports.

TSI director Hoeun Samneang told The Post that the meeting was preliminary and a precursor to joint studies on the establishment of the school, and that no concrete results have been made yet.

He commented that the project would be spearheaded by AMEE, in collaboration with JFT Jet, which he said was a local industry player with extensive knowledge of the market demand for professionals in the field, especially pilots and aircraft maintenance engineers.

Samneang stressed that the government encourages companies to use and own private jets, the effects of which he said have shored up the market.

As a result, he said, JFT Jet has been engaging with companies in Thailand as well as the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh to ensure the usefulness of an upcoming study on the prospects of working with different institutes or other partners on such projects.

He said such a school could provide Cambodia with new opportunities to show the world the advancements made in its air transport industry.

JFT Jet managing director Khek Khemrath told The Post that her company was keen to team up with AMEE, inspired by the Thai firm’s ambitions to capitalise on the Cambodian aviation sector as the two kingdoms move towards a full economic reopening.

She said AMEE was conducting a feasibility study on the project and plans to meet with the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) soon for further discussions.

Similarly, Khemrath remarked that TSI’s programmes for engineering and other specialties made it a natural fit for the undertaking.

SSCA spokesman Sin Chansereyvutha noted that the Kingdom currently has one other training school for pilots and aircraft maintenance engineers, and that other companies had considered setting up similar institutions, although Covid-19 put those plans on hold.

He emphasised that although Cambodia offers fewer opportunities in the area, it is not devoid of them. He added that the SSCA welcomes AMEE’s venture, which he suggested should promote competitiveness in terms of pricing and services.

“The domestic aviation industry is still small. In other countries, airlines have 50 to 60 aircraft, while that’s only three or four in Cambodia, but that does not mean that the market is not working – we could attract people from abroad to study in our country, depending on the quality of the school.

“In Cambodia, we still lack skilled pilots and aircraft maintenance engineers today, and most likely 10 to 20 years from now, there’ll be more demand in the area,” Chansereyvutha said.

The spokesman said pilot training can cost about $100,000, including overseas programmes.