Koh Kong provincial governor Mithona Phouthong has warned that proposed flight trials at the province’s Dara Sakor International Airport could possibly be postponed as the developers need more time to complete construction and address some remaining shortcomings.

The governor said that she was unable to elaborate on the specific issues, but confirmed the delays, noting that the construction company had been unable to confirm their readiness for flight tests.

However, she shared her expectations that once the airport was open, it would bring prosperity to the provincial tourist industry, through an increase in the number of international visitors.

“In addition, the airport will help facilitate air transport, lure investment and boost trade with other countries,” she added.

Sinn Chanserey Vutha, undersecretary of state and spokesperson of the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation, acknowledged on May 14 that plans to conduct test flights may be further delayed.

“The developers have not yet completed the necessary aviation safety protocols, and there is some work remaining on the facility itself. However, we expect the airport to be operational soon,” he said.

Earlier in the year, he noted that the number of international flights into the Kingdom has now returned to 60 per cent of their 2019, pre-Covid-19 levels.

“The busiest routes remain between Phnom Penh and Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Hanoi, however with the reopening of China, we expect the number of flights between Beijing and Cambodia to increase steadily,” he said.

Situated on a 218ha plot of land in Botum Sakor district near the Gulf of Thailand, the new airport is being developed to serve the Dara Sakor Resort – an area touted as a “luxury eco-tourism destination” – at an expected cost of $350 million, with $200 million poured into Phase I alone.

According to the developer’s estimates, the airport may see as many as 20 million passengers per year as early as 2030. The airport can handle wide-body aircraft such as the Boeing 777 and Airbus A-340.