Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - New international airport on table as PPIA expansion plans halted

New international airport on table as PPIA expansion plans halted

Villagers facing eviction from around Phnom Penh International Airport attend a meeting with government officials at Por Sen Chey District Hall yesterday morning.
Villagers facing eviction from around Phnom Penh International Airport attend a meeting with government officials at Por Sen Chey District Hall yesterday morning. Pech Sotheary

New international airport on table as PPIA expansion plans halted

A senior government minister yesterday announced a halt to plans to expand the Phnom Penh International Airport, and instead revived talk of a new airport altogether, mentioning plans to identify a location 30 to 40 kilometres outside the city in hopes of completing the new airport by 2025.

Officials, however, remained tight-lipped about the details of the project yesterday. The announcement was made at the Por Sen Chey District Hall during a meeting between the Council of Ministers and some of the 600 families living in five villages near the airport that were slated to be affected by the expansion. The families had been protesting the ongoing land dispute, which had languished for about four years.

Senior Minister Yem Nolla, director of the economic, social and cultural council, told attendees that the government had decided to keep the security and safety zone of the airport intact without any campus extensions.

We “cannot extend [the airport], so the people have no problems, and please don’t worry about it”, he said.

“The government will build a new airport,” he added, before asking: “Build it in what location? I don’t know.”

In 2012, Prime Minister Hun Sen requisitioned 768 hectares of land that were slated to be used to build a long-discussed international airport in Kampong Chhnang after 2025.

The planned Kampong Chhnang site was close to 100 kilometres from Phnom Penh – farther away than the 30 to 40 kilometres cited by Nolla – and the idea seemingly died on the vine.

Sinn Sereyvuth, spokesman for the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation, said yesterday that the plan mentioned by Nolla is part of a “new initiative” for the government’s long-term vision.

He said he became aware of the new planned airport around February.

The Phnom Penh and Siem Reap airports just completed a $100 million expansion, and while the current airport in Phnom Penh could likely support more than the 7 million annual passengers it was designed for, Sereyvuth said, “the government has intentions to replace this airport”.

It would take about five years to indentify and study the location – this process is in the preliminary assessment phase – and another five years to construct the airport. “Maybe the new airport can create better economic opportunities,” he said.

Deputy Secretary of State for Civil Aviation Soy Sokhan stated that the government decided to keep the existing airport where it currently is so that people can make arrangements and repair their homes. But they have to obtain permission from authorities and need to respect height standards to accommodate landing planes.

Phuong Sopheap, a representative of the land disputants in the Thmor Kol community, welcomed the decision not to expand the current airport, but suggested the government offer land titles to people living there and pay compensation for the loss of opportunities and difficulties caused by freezing their land for sale for four years.

“The important one is the request for land title for the people to prevent people from worrying, because [giving] only words is very dangerous,” she said.

Sokhan said local authorities and involved ministries will discuss the issue of land titles in order to arrange for the community to build infrastructure.

“We will meet the joint committees to discuss the people’s requests,” he said.

Additional reporting by Yesenia Amaro

MOST VIEWED

  • Investors’ $14.4M projects approved

    New investments from local and foreign sources continue to pour into Cambodia despite the Covid-19 pandemic remaining a lingering threat to regional and global economies. This comes as the Kingdom’s gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to contract between one and 2.9 per cent this

  • NagaWorld casinos set to reopen, schools to follow

    NAGACORP Ltd has requested that it be allowed to reopen its NagaWorld integrated resorts in Phnom Penh after the government recently approved casinos to operate again, provided they follow Covid-19 prevention measures set by the Ministry of Health. Mey Vann, the director-general of the Ministry

  • Rubber exports stretch 17%

    Cambodia exported 97,175 tonnes of natural rubber in the first five months of this year, surging 17 per cent compared to the same period last year as the Covid-19 pandemic stretches on, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries official Khuong Phalla told The Post on Thursday. Phalla,

  • ASEM supports Kingdom’s proposal to postpone meeting amid Covid

    The 13th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM13) scheduled to be held in Cambodia in November has been postponed until mid-2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation press statement released on Saturday said. The decision was made during a two-day meeting

  • Coffee maker roasted for producing fake product

    The Ministry of Interior’s Counter Counterfeit Committee will send a suspect to court on Monday after she allegedly roasted coffee mixed with soybeans and other ingredients, creating a product which could pose a high risk to consumers’ health. On the afternoon of July 2, the

  • Cash handout programme 80% complete

    Minister of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation Vong Soth confirmed on Thursday that the implementation of the Cash Transfer Programme For Poor and Vulnerable Households During Covid-19 had been implemented for more than 80% of the over 560,000 families. The programme was introduced one week ago.

  • Cambodia armed with money laundering laws

    Money laundering will now carry a penalty of up to five years in prison while those convicted of financing terrorists will be jailed for up to 20 years, according to new laws promulgated by King Norodom Sihamoni and seen by The Post on Thursday. Comprising nine

  • Where is Cambodia’s exit strategy that can save the economy?

    With the prospect of being slammed by a double whammy, the government is working on an economic recovery plan to deliver it from Covid-19 and the EU’s partial withdrawal of the Everything But Arms scheme in the next two to three years Cambodia is

  • Schools to be reopened in ‘three stages’

    With guidance from Prime Minister Hun Sen, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, is in the process of reopening schools in three stages. But no timeline has been set, ministry spokesperson Ros Soveacha said on Thursday. Soveacha said the first stage will be to

  • Kingdom, UN discuss rights

    A year after Cambodia received 198 recommendations from UN member countries, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR-Cambodia) met with the Cambodia Human Rights Committee (CHRC) to discuss following-up on the Kingdom’s third cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and