THE Council for the Development of Cambodia has approved plans to build a new US$1 billion international airport in Siem Reap.
Although the project still awaits final approval from Prime Minister Hun Sen, CDC deputy secretary general Duy Thov said the airport had been welcomed by relevant ministries and institutions to proceed as planned.
“I hope it won’t take a long time to approve – I think it can occur as we all agreed,” he said.
He declined to specify a timeline for the project until the Prime Minister made his decision.
Siem Reap province deputy governor Bun Tharith said the $1 billion investment would come from NSIA Company, a joint venture owned by two South Korean firms, Camco Airport Company and Lees A&A Company.
The government would offer about 500 hectares of concession land in Chie Kreng and Sonikum districts, 60 kilometres from the provincial capital, he said.
“We don’t have any problem with the land – now we just wait for the project to begin,” he said.
The investment would be in the form of a Build-Operate-Transfer agreement, he said, meaning the airport would eventually come under Cambodian government control.
Bun Tharith said he expected direct flights to increase with the new airport, as it would have the capacity to accept larger planes.
“About 30 foreign countries proposed direct flights to Siem Reap, but [have been held up] because we don’t have the new airport yet,” he said.
State Secretariat of Civil Aviation undersecretary Eng Sour Sdey agreed the airport would offer more opportunities for long-haul flights.
“The old airport is just for short-distance flights, and could land only from the east,” he said.
“It cannot be expanded without impacting the temples.”
Long-distance flights facilitated by the new airport are crucial to attracting more tourists from overseas, particularly from those areas without temples of their own, according to Apsara Authority director general Bun Narith.
“If we have a new airport, there will be more access for direct flights from other countries – an increase in the number of tourists will follow,” he said.
Bun Narith said a lift in tourists would create more local jobs.