Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Outlooks sky-high as Siem Reap airport 63% done

Outlooks sky-high as Siem Reap airport 63% done

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The main work on the first phase of Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport was 63 per cent complete as of December 31, falling short of the planned 70 per cent. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Outlooks sky-high as Siem Reap airport 63% done

Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport, scheduled to open in October, will fulfil the needs associated with an anticipated rebound in international arrivals, especially those from mainland China, of which the government is aiming to welcome in seven-digit numbers this year, according to civil aviation officials and tourism industry insiders.

However, the main work on the initial phase was 63 per cent complete as of December 31, falling short of the expected 70 per cent, according to a statement issued in conjunction with a key meeting concerning the project, held on January 9.

The statement blamed the delay on Covid-19-related disruptions in the import of “construction equipment” from China. However, developer Angkor International Airport Investment (Cambodia) Co Ltd (AIAI) has affirmed its commitment to reaching 90 per cent by end-March.

Speaking in the statement, Tekreth Samrach, chairman of the Orientation Committee for the project, spoke highly of AIAI’s attention to the development as well as the “great successes” seen so far, “even at a time when the world is in crisis”.

Asserting that the worst times for work on the project are behind, he voiced commitment to reaching the end-March goal, and opening the airport in October.

Speaking to The Post on January 10, State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) spokesman Sin Chansereyvutha described progress on the Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport as a reflection of the “deep commitment” of the men and women involved in the construction, even while dogged by Covid-linked disruptions for the past two years.

“The company is highly committed to reaching its objectives. We truly welcome and applaud this commitment and hope the company achieves its plans,” he said.

Pacific Asia Travel Association Cambodia Chapter chairman Thourn Sinan hailed the airport as a supportive addition to the air transport system, which he said comes as the government takes steps to bring in Chinese and other international travellers to ensure a rapid post-Covid recovery in the tourism sector.

The new airport will “provide more options and more flights to serve the tourism sector” and host flights to and from China, he said.

On January 6, Minister of Tourism Thong Khon affirmed to local media that Cambodia is “ready” to welcome back mainland Chinese visitors, presenting an estimate for the 2023 total at about “one million” or a “10-fold” increase over 2022, which he noted was out of the “3.5-to-four million” foreign arrivals expected this year.

Four days earlier, Prime Minister Hun Sen had famously put forth a “two million” aim for mainland Chinese visitors to the Kingdom this year.

Of note, according to the tourism ministry, Cambodia has only tallied more than two million annual mainland Chinese visitors twice: 2.024 million in 2018 and 2.362 million in 2019, of which 1.299 million and 1.577 million respectively had their purpose of visit marked as “holiday”.

In January-November 2022, mainland China accounted for just 90,648 of the Kingdom’s 1.914 million international visitors.

Breaking ground on March 15, 2020, the three-phased 700.06ha airport development has capital investment of $880 million, more than $500 million of which is to be spent on the first and second phases.

Located in Sotr Nikum district’s Ta Yek commune east of Siem Reap town, the airport will reportedly be able to receive about seven million passengers per year initially, 10 million by 2030, and 20 million by 2050.

Similarly, annual cargo capacity is also expected to rise from 10,000 tonnes initially to 60,000 tonnes by 2050.

Chansereyvutha previously told The Post that the airport in its first phase will have 38 gates and be rated Code E, and hence able to accommodate larger aircraft such as A340-300, A350-900, B777-200, B777-300ER, B747-300 and B747-400.

For reference, the Code E rating signifies that the runway is designed for aircraft with a wingspan of up to but not including 65m, and landing gear where the outside edges of the outermost wheels are less than 14m apart.

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia maintains 'Kun Khmer' stance despite Thailand’s boycott threat

    Cambodia has taken the position that it will use the term "Kun Khmer" to refer to the sport of kickboxing at the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, and has removed the term Muay from all references to the sport. Despite strong reactions from the Thai

  • Chinese group tours return to Cambodia starting Feb 6

    Cambodia is among 20 countries selected by Beijing for a pilot programme allowing travel agencies to provide international group tours as well as flight and hotel packages to Chinese citizens, following a three-year ban. As the days tick down until the programme kicks off on February 6,

  • Capital-Poipet express rail project making headway

    The preliminary results of a feasibility study to upgrade the Phnom Penh-Poipet railway into Cambodia’s first express railway indicate that the project would cost more than $4 billion and would take around four years to complete. The study was carried out by China Road and

  • Thai boxers to join SEA Games’ Kun Khmer event

    The Cambodian SEA Games Organising Committee (CAMSOC) – together with the Kun Khmer International Federation (KKIF) and Khmer Boxing Federation – have achieved a “great success” by including Kun Khmer in the upcoming biennial multi-sports event on its home soil for the first time, said a senior

  • Bullets to bracelets: Siem Reap man makes waste from war wearable

    Jewellery is often made from valuable gemstones like emeralds or diamonds and precious metals like gold or silver, or valueless things like animal horns. But a man in Siem Reap has approached the manufacture of delicate pieces from a different angle. His unique form of

  • 61% of 2022 imports came from just 3 markets

    The three largest exporters to Cambodia – mainland China, Vietnam and Thailand – accounted for 60.94 per cent of the Kingdom’s total merchandise imports last year, at $18.245 billion, which was up 11.99 per cent over 2021, according to the General Department of Customs and Excise. Cambodia’s total imports