Sihanouk Airport Upgrade On Track

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Renovations to Sihanoukville International Airport, which will allow it to handle bigger planes, will be finished by the end of the year as planned, the country’s aviation body said.

sihanoukville airport expansion
AirAsia now has direct flights from Kuala Lumpur to Sihanoukville running four times weekly.

About 60 percent of construction was complete, said Sin Chansereyvutha, spokesman for the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation. Taxiway construction was now under way after the rainy season caused delays to preparing the groundwork, he said, adding that Cambodia Airports planned to put the new facilities into operation early next year.

A ground-breaking ceremony for the expansion took place in December. Work to the terminal and taxiway will give the airport, about 12 kilometres from the coastal beach and seaport, the capacity to handle up to 500,000 tourists a year. The plan is to speed up the rotation of planes and to accommodate larger aircraft.

The cost of the terminal extension and new taxiway is between $12 million and $15 million. It is part of a $2 billion investment programme until 2040 for the development of Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and Sihanoukville international airports. All three are operated by Cambodia Airports, which is 70 percent owned by Vinci Airports.

After renovations, the Sihanoukville airport is expected to receive international flights and big aircraft from regional countries. The province is one of the areas of Cambodia with the greatest potential in terms of tourists and business growth. Tourism experts and provincial officials expect the renovation to draw in tourists and business people from abroad directly to the province.

Currently, there are five regular flights – four involving local airlines and AirAsia – which operate in the Sihanoukville airport. Another eight airlines charter flights from China and Vietnam.

Thoun Sinan, local branch chairman of the Pacific Asia Travel Association, said earlier that once the airport can handle more international flights, it will cut costs and encourage more domestic and foreign tourists to the province.

Sihanoukville International Airport handled more than 2,600 flight movements last year, at 41.8 percent year-on-year spurred by international flights as well as a growth in domestic flights from Siem Reap, according to Cambodia Airports. It said passenger traffic at the Sihanoukville airport increased by 65.8 percent to 156,887 passengers during the period.

At three airports, Cambodia Airports handled more than 7 million passengers and 73,000 flights, an increase of 8.6 percent and 4.5 percent respectively compared with a year earlier.

This article was originally published in the Khmer Times.

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