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New Siem Reap airport ‘only 22%’ done

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Passengers at Siem Reap International Airport. Construction on the new Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport has reached “only 22 per cent” completion as of February 28. POST STAFF

New Siem Reap airport ‘only 22%’ done

Construction on the new Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport has reached “only 22 per cent” completion as of February 28, according to the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) spokesperson, as Prime Minister Hun Sen announced an upcoming visit to the site to “accelerate” the construction process.

SSCA spokesperson Sin Chansereyvutha told The Post that there had been miscalculations from the developer about the rate of construction.

In May 2021, Chansereyvutha had announced that the project was 42 per cent complete.

However, he noted on March 28 that Angkor International Airport Investment (Cambodia) Co Ltd (AIAI) “has recently reviewed how it calculates percentage of progress”.

“As of February 28, we did our own recalculations, and found it was only 22 per cent completed, which was different from the 42 per cent they told us previously,” he said. “We have to acknowledge that this is slow, and is affecting the supply and logistics chain.”

Nonetheless, he insisted the project is going “smoothly and as planned”, saying that the investment company has assured him it will “speed up” the process by dedicating extra resources and time to complete the construction according to the original plan to open in 2023.

Chansereyvutha noted that construction of the airport has been “slightly slowed” due to Covid-19-driven increases in shipping times and costs for construction materials, as most of the equipment for the project was shipped from abroad.

“The shipment would usually take two weeks to arrive, but now during the Covid-19 era it takes about three to four months,” he said.

The new airport is a strategic project between Chinese and Cambodian investment firms that aims to increase national economic growth and replace the existing airport, which contains a short landing strip that excludes large and long-haul aircraft.

On March 28, the prime minister announced that he would visit the airport construction site on April 3 to inspect and possibly “accelerate” the project.

And on January 25, Lu Wei, chairman of the Board of Directors of Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport, said that 2022 would be a “busy” year for construction and one in which the project will be implemented.

“The company will overcome all obstacles and difficulties to build the Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport for its scheduled opening in 2023,” he said.

With a terminal area spanning more than 80,000sqm, the airport – which will be built on a 750ha site in Sotr Nikum district east of Siem Reap town – will be able to accommodate about seven million passengers annually.

It is being built under the 55-year build-operate-transfer (BOT) scheme. The BOT model is a form of project financing where the public sector grants concessions to a private entity to build and operate projects for a specified period a time, after which ownership is typically transferred back to the government.

The airport is licensed and being financed by AIAI, an affiliate of China’s Yunnan Investment Holdings Ltd, with a registered capital investment of $880 million.

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