Sihanouk International Airport will soon increase its capacity to allow for long-haul flights – flights longer than seven hours – and the upgrade is expected to enhance relations in the trade, investment and tourism sectors between Cambodia and the rest of the world.
At a press conference on the “Progress and Implementation plan of the Secretariat of Civil Aviation” last week, State Secretariat of Civil Aviation spokesman Chea Aun said the construction of an additional 3,300m of runway is set to be completed by June, at which point long-haul aircrafts could fly directly to Cambodia.
“We have now completed 2,500m of the runway, and we are working with the SCA [Societe Concessionnaire des Aeroports] on a further 800m to complete the 3,300m,” said Aun.
He said the airport is currently only able to accommodate flights lasting six hours or less, such as flights to Beijing, Seoul and Dubai.
After the expansion of the runways, long-haul flights up to 12 hours long – such as to Paris – will be possible.
Cambodia Freight Forwarders Association president Sin Chanthy told The Post on Monday that the expansion will not only enhance the tourism sector, but will also contribute significantly to expanding Cambodia’s agricultural products market to more countries around the world.
“Once direct flights can go further, opportunities will increase for exporting agricultural products . . . to more distant countries,” he said.
Currently, over 10 per cent of Cambodian cargo is transported by air, with the rest being transported by water, he added.
Royal Academy of Cambodia researcher Hong Vanak said travelling and transport infrastructure preparation is crucial to attract investors to Cambodia because they all need to transport goods to sell on the market.
“The development of infrastructure is necessary to develop a national economy,” he said.
While Cambodia still has plenty of investment opportunities, accommodating long-haul flights will allow Preah Sihanouk province and its neighbouring areas to receive more investments, he added.
Provincial Department of Tourism director Taing Sochet Kresna said the airport upgrade would improve the tourism sector and attract more investment.
He said if the logistics sector of Cambodia is strong, the economy will grow accordingly. “The extension the long-haul flight will help the tourism sector and socio-economic development in all sectors.”