Construction of a new airport that is slated to serve the capital has passed the 43 per cent completion mark, raising prospects for a proper recovery in the civil aviation and tourism sectors as international travellers return to the Kingdom in increasingly large numbers.
The figure was revealed by State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) spokesman and undersecretary of state Sin Chansereyvutha, who told The Post that work on Techo International Airport (TIA) has set the developer, Cambodia Airport Investment Co Ltd (CAIC), back by $617 million as of December 31.
Breaking ground in 2019, TIA – formerly Techo Takhmao International Airport – is due to be completed in the first phase in mid-2024, according to CAIC’s updated master schedule, he said.
CAIC is a joint venture between Overseas Cambodia Investment Corp Ltd (OCIC) and the SSCA, with ownership set up on a 90:10 basis, OCIC said in a note on its website.
Chansereyvutha said that recent studies have suggested that, in general, air traffic volumes in Cambodia may not reach 2019 levels until about end-2024 or early 2025, as the world recovers from Covid-19.
The official also issued a general call for safety, security, quality, resiliency, eco-friendly and innovation considerations in the construction of large amounts of aviation-related infrastructure that will be needed in the long run, to promote sustainable growth as demand for air travel and cargo services pick up.
Pacific Asia Travel Association Cambodia Chapter chairman Thourn Sinan lauded the progress on TIA, saying that the airport will encourage more aviation business and spur a swift recovery in the local tourism sector.
He hailed the airport as a “modern” addition to the air passenger and freight transport sector that will be key to “broadening markets for our country in the coming years”.
The SSCA’s Chansereyvutha noted that by end-December, 27 international airlines had resumed commercial flights to Cambodia, compared to the 44 active companies in 2019, prior to Covid.
Air passengers in 2022 totalled 2.382 million, up nearly 900 per cent year-on-year, but just 25 per cent of the 2019 figure. The number of flights came to 28,900 last year, up more than 260 per cent year-on-year, but just 28 per cent of the 2019 total.
On the other hand, air cargo volumes surpassed 553.7 tonnes which, although down 22 per cent year-on-year, marked a five-per-cent rise over 2019.
“In 2023, we expect the number of passengers to increase to 4.6 million, and the number of flights to more than 45,000,” he said.