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$350M Koh Kong airport on track

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The $350 million Dara Sakor International Airport in Koh Kong province is set to commerce operations in mid-2021. SSCA

$350M Koh Kong airport on track

Pre-commissioning work on the $350 million Dara Sakor International Airport in Koh Kong province remains on schedule, with flight operations planned to start in mid-2021, State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) spokesman Sin Chansereyvutha told The Post on March 15.

This comes even as the February 20 community transmission compels more provinces to tighten their borders – especially those along the coast.

Chansereyvutha noted that the runway, terminal buildings and other facilities had been completed at the end of last year.

Having entered the pre-commissioning and testing phase, the airport will need at least six to seven months before being certified for flight operations, he said.

“The schedule reveals that [flight] operations will start in mid-2021. Despite the [latest] outbreak . . . the company has not yet submitted a notice of delay.

“The company is now preparing to submit the relevant documents to obtain airport certification for operation.

“At this early stage, [the airport developer] is merely testing the installed facility and running test flights – not at regular capacity as that will depend on the extent that Covid-19 eases and the confidence of the passengers,” Chansereyvutha said.

Located in Koh Kong’s Botum Sakor district, the airport is being developed by Chinese firm Tianjin Union Development Group (UDG) and will reportedly be able to handle long-haul aircraft such as Boeing 777 and Airbus A340.

Another international airport slated for the province with $40 million capital investment was put on hold until the developer – a joint venture between Ly Yong Phat’s LYP Group and Bangkok Airways Pcl – deemed the Covid-19 situation had improved.

Chansereyvutha said that despite the availability of Covid-19 jabs in the Kingdom, people remain vigilant and are reluctant to fly.

“The aviation sector has not improved yet due to concerns over Covid-19 infections. So, uncertainty remains and we do hope that if the Covid-19 vaccination rollout proves to be relatively effective, the industry will show marked improvements.”

Passenger traffic at Cambodia’s three international airports took an 81.3 per cent nosedive last year from 2019, while cargo traffic dropped 29.9 per cent amid disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Cambodia Airports, the long-standing owner and manager of the Kingdom’s three current airports.

The three international airports welcomed 11.6 million passengers in 2019, marking a 10.2 per cent hike from the previous year, Cambodia Airports reported.

In 2019, Phnom Penh International Airport surpassed the six-million passenger mark for the first time, with passenger growth recorded at 11.2 per cent.

Sihanoukville International Airport saw even more remarkable growth, with passengers growing by a whopping 158 per cent. The airport welcomed 1.6 million passengers in 2019.

Siem Reap International Airport, in contrast, saw a decline of 12.3 per cent in the number of passengers, with just 3.9 million people passing through the airport that year.

The three airports combined serve 55-plus destinations and welcome 700 regular flights per week, according to Cambodia Airports.

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