Home > Local News > New Siem Reap airport plans gather pace

New Siem Reap airport plans gather pace

Tourists exit the existing Siem Reap airport last month. Hun Sen has approved a plan to build a new facility, officials say. Photo by: WILL BAXTER
A GOVERNMENT official has claimed work on
a new US$1 billion Siem Reap airport is set to begin next year, after
the project was approved by Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Youn Heng,
director of the Evaluation and Incentive Department at the Council for
the Development of Cambodia, confirmed yesterday that a new
international airport in Siem Reap had won approval from Hun Sen in
October.

The development – said to be backed by NSIA Company, a
joint venture owned by two South Korean firms Camco Airport Company and
Lees A&A Company – was given the green light from CDC a month
previous.

Youn Heng declined to specify a schedule for
construction, but Secretary of State at Cambodia’s Council of Ministers
Tekreth Samrach claimed yesterday that work was due to start early next
year.

“They will start as soon as possible. They will be
starting construction in February 2011. Now, they’re preparing,” he
said, adding that the “new airport would have capacity for 14 million
to 16 million passengers a year”.

Plans for a new airport at the
tourist hub have previously sparked debate within the sector. Both
provincial and central government officials have said that a new
airport, set 60 kilometres from the provincial capital, was needed to
land large, long-haul planes and to protect historic Angkor Wat.

But
Société Concessionaire Des Aéroports, which manages Siem Reap’s
existing aerodrome, has questioned the claims. It has said the existing
facility can handle flights with a range of 10,000 kilometres.

SCA’s
Chief Executive Officer Nicolas Deviller yesterday stated: “At this
stage we do not have reliable information allowing us to elaborate on
the issue.”

He emphasised that SCA and the government has “a
solid partnership” and the management firm “will be willing to continue
in contributing to the development of the international airports in
Cambodia”.

Eng Sour Sdey, undersecretary at the government’s
State Secretariat of Civil Aviation, said yesterday that he welcomed
the plan, as it would provide more opportunity for long-haul, direct
flights.

That view was echoed by Say Sokhan, civil aviation
adviser to the Council of Ministers, who said yesterday that a new
airport could accept larger planes and provide a boost for tourism. The
Korean investors could not be reached for comment.

Phnom Penh Post

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