The State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) confirmed that officials are undertaking a detailed study of area infrastructure before breaking ground on a new airport in Ratanakkiri, following the provincial administration’s notice that nearly 1,400ha of land in Lumphat district has been set aside as the potential site.

SSCA spokesman Sin Chanserivutha said on April 5 that the SSCA team needs to check the availability and capacity of the connecting infrastructure at the site such as roads, water supply and electricity.

“We have to check the geography and surroundings first and take into consideration things like the height of any nearby obstacles, safety zones, landing direction for incoming flights and the infrastructure that is available or will need to be in place, before we reach the point of starting the construction.

“Building an airport at this or another site won’t be a problem, it’s just that it must be done with a long-term vision in place and it can’t all be decided immediately,” he explained.

Governor Nhem Sam Oeun confirmed at an April 4 press conference on his provincial administration’s achievements of the past five years that nearly 1,400ha of land in Lumphat district has been designared for constructing a new airport.

He further indicated that the existing airport in Banlung town would be redeveloped into a multi-tenant entertainment complex and public park for the residents of the province.

“The old airport can no longer be expanded because it is in the centre of the town, so we have already studied the location of the new airport and will invite the SSCA for further inspection,” he said.

He noted that the new airport site is situated about 100km from the provincial town, Banlung, and is in a place that is convenient for transport not only within Ratanakkiri but also Stung Treng, Kratie and Mondulkiri provinces, making it a regional hub for travel.

The governor said he is hopeful that once the province has the new airport, it will help attract more investors there, thereby boosting the local economy and people’s livelihoods.

According to the provincial administration, the SSCA will transfer control of the old airport once it ceases operations so that it can be turned into a development that serves public interest, improves the attractiveness of the provincial town and increases the quality of life for local residents.