We look at the airports in Cambodia, those currently operating, as well as those under construction, and how the expansion of the Cambodian airport network will help increase the international and domestic tourism industry to grow in the Kingdom.
The Kingdom of Cambodia has seen rapid progress over the past two decades in particular. One of the reasons for the development has been a buoyant tourism industry, with the SEA nation appealing to international visitors and regional tourists from Asia.
As a result, the airline industry and the Cambodian airports have had to keep pace with the growth of inbound and outbound tourists using air travel to reach key Cambodian cities.
The State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) oversees the operations of all airports in Cambodia. Although VINCI Airports (Cambodia Airports or SCA) manages the 3 international airports in Cambodia; Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and Sihanoukville. A public-private partnership was signed with the Royal Government of Cambodia in 1995, which gives Cambodia Airports the concession for the development and management of Cambodia’s network of international airports for 45 years.
The Cambodian airports have seen a number of renovations over recent years, with more planned. The modernisation and expansion of the runways to support the increased number of passengers are vital as the number of visitors doubled between 2013-2018.
In 2018, the three international airports, for the first time, hit a milestone of 10 million passengers passing through their doors. Eric Delobel, CEO of Cambodia Airports, stated that “connectivity and synergies between the 3 airports have significantly contributed to bringing in more and more passengers to the Kingdom”.
The overall capacity at Phnom Penh Siem Reap and Sihanoukville airports saw passenger traffic reach 11.6 million passengers in 2019. There were also 44 airlines operating at the Kingdom’s airports by the end of 2019.
Due to the global pandemic, these numbers plummeted as air passengers coming through the Kingdoms’ three international airports (Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville and Siem Reap) dropped by 92 per cent (136,680) in the first half of 2021.
By the end of 2021 more international flights started resuming services domestically and internationally and Cambodia eased travel requirements which saw a number of new routes added by Q1 2022.
Updated March 2022
How many airports are there in Cambodia?
As of 2022, Cambodia has 3 major airports operating domestic and international commercial flights.
However, additional airports are under construction and the current ones are undergoing renovation. The government has been studying the potential of more airports; three are already under construction with new airfields in Poipet and Mondulkiri being looked at.
There are also many local airports already in Cambodia, some are rarely unused.
In 2019, the following destinations were added, some with new airlines managing flights to the Kingdom to Cambodia’s airports.
- Phnom Penh: Beijing, Bangkok, Manila, Phuket, Jakarta, Shenyang, Shantou, Macau, Mandalay, Fuzhou, Yangon, Da Nang, Chengdu, Shenzhen.
- Siem Reap: Wanzhou, Shenzhen, Dunhuang.
- Sihanoukville: Bangkok, Beijing, Yichang, Shenyang, Zhanjiang, Guangzhou, Wuhan, Xiamen, Fujian.
Following the easing of travel requirements in 2022, more flights and airlines were announcing routes to Cambodia’s airports.
Where are the Airports in Cambodia?
Phnom Penh International Airport (Pochentong)
As the capital and largest city of Cambodia, Phnom Penh has the biggest and busiest airport in the country.
The Phnom Penh International Airport saw renovation works increase the surface area to 31.000 sqm to meet the demands of rapidly growing air traffic in Cambodia in 2017. The USD $12-million upgrades also modernised the airport’s car park system, introduced new services such as multi-language signage and information digital screens, a new website, and the diversification of Food & Beverage outlets.
The runway was extended to 3,000 meters and the Cambodia Airports company hopes that it will sustain “the country’s continuous growth for the next 10-15 years.”
The data released from Cambodia Airports reveal the following for 2019:
- 6 million passengers used the Pochentong Airport.
- 36 destinations were flown to.
- 35 airlines are in operation to and from the airport.
In 2019, the Phnom Penh International Airport was awarded the best Asia Pacific regional airports for smaller airports category by the CAPA Centre of Aviation.
With the construction of a new international airport in the capital due to being completed in 2023, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said the Phnom Penh International Airport will be used as a “military airbase, domestic airport, cargo terminal, plane parking, etc.”
The Khmer Times reported the Prime Minister said the current Phnom Penh International Airport will be used only for the head of state, heads of local governments and Cambodian senior leaders, as a military airbase, for domestic flights, private jets and for diplomatic officials and foreign leaders.
Siem Reap International Airport
Siem Reap International Airport is the closest airport to Angkor Wat and is located only 5 kilometres away from Cambodia’s main destination for tourism.
The Siem Reap International Airport also underwent renovation work which was completed in 2016 and increased the surface area to 26,000 sqm. There is only only one runway at the international airport.
The data released from Cambodia Airports reveal the following for 2019:
- 3.9 million passengers used the Siem Reap International Airport.
- 48 destinations were flown to.
- 31 airlines are in operation to and from the airport.
Sihanouk International Airport
The coastal city of Sihanoukville has seen the biggest changes of all the Cambodian cities and also has the primary seaports in the country.
In December 2016, an infrastructure enhancement program was started, completed in 2018, to enlarge facilities and handle the growth of passenger arrivals at Sihanoukville airport. The works saw the renovations of the existing building and the extension of the current terminal by 80% to 4,800 sqm.
Other areas which were improved were the check-in area, boarding lounge, and baggage claim zone, and the installation of new equipment including the Baggage Handling System (BHS).
The data released from Cambodia Airports reveal the following for 2019:
- 1.6 million passengers used the Sihanoukville International Airport.
- 11 destinations were flown to.
- 10 airlines are in operation to and from the airport.
In 2017, 338,000 passengers passed through the airport, so 1.6 million passengers by 2019 represent massive growth!
There are three planned stages of development at the Sihanouk International Airport which will eventually allow handing capacity for 5 to 10 million passengers from 2030-2040.
- The runway is also being extended from 2,500 meters to 3,300 meters allowing for larger aircraft and more international routes to open up. The runway upgrade is expected to be completed in July 2020.
- In late February 2020, Cambodia Airports announced a new terminal would also be built to facilitate 3.6 million air passengers for 2020-2030.
- The Sihanouk International Airport won the Routes Asia 2019 Marketing Awards (under the 4 million passengers category) in 2019.
Airports under construction in Cambodia
These are the confirmed projects for new airports being built in Cambodia. However, there are talks of new airports being looked at in other provinces.
Kandal – New Phnom Penh International Airport
Discussions of a new international airport in Phnom Penh have been ongoing since 2016 but were confirmed in 2018. In February 2020, the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) confirmed the new airport would be jointly developed by Cambodia Airports (SCA) and Overseas Cambodia Investment Corporation (OCIC).
The new airport in Kandal province’s Kandal Stung district is being built at an estimated cost of $1.5 billion. The new Phnom Penh International Airport reached 40 per cent completion in May 2021 and is still is set to be operational in 2023 (However contradicting reports in September 2021 said construction was only 25 per cent complete.)
The passenger terminal building with 243,000 square meters of floor space. It will also include:
- A runway and 4F airport.
- A 108-meter-high air control tower
- Over 40 facilities for airport operations including VIP Passenger Terminal, Wastewater Management System, Solid Waste Storage, Car Repair, Fuel Storage and Storage, Fire Station.
In mid-2020, the Cambodian government claims the new airport will employ 20,000 workers a day, and in July, Dr. Mao Havannal said: “Phnom Penh New International Airport is a world-class airport which we can conclude is the 9th (largest) airport in the world”.
In March 2022 a new investment was announced the planned stage rollout of the airport would see the first terminal completed in 2023, with a capacity of 13 million passengers per year. By 2030, the airport is expected to handle 30 million passengers a year, and by 2050, up to 50 million passengers a year.
- Expected Cost: USD $1.5 billion
- Size: Terminal building has 243,000 square meters
- Due Date: 2023
Koh Kong – Dara Sakor International Airport
The Dara Sakor International Airport was announced in 2016 to be built in Koh Kong province, with works starting in 2018.
- By late 2019, the Minister of Aviation said they were hopeful the airport would be ready by 2023. However, in June 2021, the SCCA confirmed the airport’s construction had been completed and it would be operational pending delays caused by the pandemic.
- The opening date changed again and by the end of August 2021, the airport was said to be 93.6 per cent completed and scheduled to be officially launched in 2022.
- The latest update in November 2021 suggested testing would start in 2022.
The airport is being constructed near the Dara Sakor resort, in Koh Kong’s Botum Sakor district by the Chinese-owned Union Development Group (UDG). The international airport will be able to handle long-haul aircraft like the Boeing 777 and Airbus A340.
The plans are for the first stage of the airport to accommodate 4 million tourists a year. Yu Yong Yi, who is the Director of the Dara Sakor International Airport construction project, said the Phase I runway is 3.2 kilometres long and 60 metres wide.
Mr. Sin Chanserivutha, Spokesman of the Secretariat of State of Civil Aviation of Cambodia, said that the Airport will be able to receive up to 11 Code E aircraft, 4 helicopter terminals, 7 million passengers and 10,000 air cargo tons per year.
The Dara Sakor Airport, which was initially planned to open in June 2021, was originally claimed to be delayed despite the construction actually being completed.
- Expected Cost: $350 million
- Size:Covers 4.5 hectares
- Due Date: 2022 (*Update)
Koh Kong Airport
The second airport in Koh Kong, which is a joint venture between Ly Yong Phat’s LYP Group and Bangkok Airways Pcl, was due to be developed on a 600ha site in Mondul Seima district’s Bak Khlang commune.
State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) spokesman Sin Chansereyvutha said in February 2021, the plans have been postponed due to the impacts of COVID-19.
“On the other hand, as fallout from Covid-19 affects private sector investment and business, they’ve decided to delay [construction of the airport] until the global health crisis has eased.”
- Expected Cost: $40 million capital investment
- Size: 600 hectares
- Due Date: TBC
Siem Reap Angkor International Airport
In 2019, plans were announced for a new international airport to be built in Siem Reap. At the time, the new proposed airport was said to be the biggest in Cambodia and would be called Siem Reap Angkor International Airport.
The site for the airport is said to be 51km southeast of downtown Siem Reap and 40km from Angkor Archaeological Park. The size of the new airport will be 700ha and cost $880 million to construct.
The airport is licensed and being invested by Angkor International Airport Investment (Cambodia) Co., Ltd., an affiliate of China’s Yunnan Investment Holdings Ltd under a 55-year build-operate-transfer (BOT) model which covers five years for the construction and 50 years for business operations in Cambodia.
One of the reasons for building a new airport was due to the “vibrations caused by the take-offs and landings of aircraft may damage the foundation of Angkor Wat and the current volume of air traffic cannot meet the rapid development of the local tourism industry.”
The Angkor International Airport Investment (Cambodia) has confirmed during the pandemic that the new airport construction will finish as planned in 2023 despite the impacts of COVID-19.
Tekreth Samrach, secretary of state at the Council of Ministers and chairman of the Steering Committee for the Construction of the Siem Reap Angkor International Airport said in the Khmer Times in April 2022 that the passenger terminals were 19 per cent completed, and a runway is scheduled to be completed in May 2022.
Infrastructure such as office buildings and dormitories, air traffic control tower, cargo warehouse, oil station and pipelines, and the car park were planned to be finished by the end of 2022.
- Expected Cost: USD $900 million
- Size: 700 hectares
- Due Date: March 2023
In July 2020, Mondulkiri provincial governor Svay Sam Eang said authorities were marking the boundaries of a 600ha portion of land, situated 22km from Sen Monorom town in O’Raing district, to build a new Monulkiri airport.
The Secretariat Of Civil Aviation (SCCA) estimates the new airport in will be built on an area of 300 hectares and is estimated to cost more than USD $60 million.
The current defunct airport cant be used as it’s too close to residents and the old airport will be transformed into a public garden said the governor.
- In January 2021, it was reported that the Cambodian government had approved in principle the development of a new Mondulkiri Airport in the Kingdom’s northeast with a Chinese company, Powerchina International Group, selected as its partner on the project.
- Plans for the development were hated during the pandemic but in March 2022, the Secretary of State of the Secretariat of Civil Aviation announced plans for the Mondulkiri Airport to be upgraded from a 3C to 4C allowing for commercial flights to potentially use the facilities.
In December 2020, the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) was announced to be part of a technical working group conducting studies on the social, economic and environmental impacts of the rejuvenation of the Battambang Airport reported the Khmer Times.
The current inoperable airport is three kilometres from the Battambang city-centre, with a total land area of 128.68 hectares. The runway length is around 1,600 metres with a width of 34 metres.
In July 2021 the plans were put on hold due to the pandemic.
Regional / Provincial airports in Cambodia
Cambodia has a number of provincial or regional airports listed. Some of these may be used for occasional chartered light wing aircraft or helicopters but are not used commercially. These include some military and private airports.
- Battambang Airport: Although it is the largest city in western Cambodia, has no operational commercial airport (See above).
- Ratanakiri Airport
- Kampong Cham Airport
- Kampong Chhnang Airpot
- Kampot Airport
- Krakor Airport
- Kratié Airport
- Mondulkiri Airport (See above).
- Stung Treng Airport
- Thbeng Meanchey Airport
VINCI Airports Cambodia (Cambodia Airports)
The global French airports’ company, VINCI Airports, has been operating the main airport hubs in Cambodia (Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville) since 1995 under the name of Cambodia Airports (of which it has a majority stake of 70%). The company globally operates more than 40 airports served by more than 250 airlines.
The other shareholders of Cambodia Airports are Muhibbah Masteron Cambodia, a Malaysian-Cambodian joint venture which has the remaining 30% stake.
Cambodia Airports commercial name and legal name is SCA (Société Concessionnaire des Aéroports).
Read more about the Airlines in Cambodia here.