By May Kunmakara
Prime Minister Hun Sen announced yesterday that Cambodia is going to build a new international airport in Phnom Penh, in response to the rising number of passengers received every year. The Kingdom is expected to get seven million tourists a year by 2020.
The initial concept was made by the Premier during the official launch of the 2012-2020 Tourism Development Strategic Plan at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh, where Hun Sen said Cambodia is aiming to receive around 10 million tourists by 2020. He added that the existing airport is quite small.
“In terms of long-term development, it requires us to have a feasibility study on building a new international airport in Phnom Penh that could receive more than 10 million passengers per year,” he said.
“Our existing airport does not have the ability to handle large numbers of tourists, about eight to 10 million a year. It is small and cannot handle large number of passengers. Nowadays, we have only a small number of aircraft landing in Phnom Penh. If we have a lot, where would they land?” he continued.
Hun Sen did not disclose the location of the future airport for fear of creating a wave of people attempting to buy land around any proposed site.
“We’ve already thought about a place to build. It might be a bit far from the existing airport, but I don’t want to announce the location now because it might lead to extensive land speculation.”
The Premier also said the government was making good progress on building a new international airport in Siem Reap (NSRIA).
The NSRIA is owned by two Korean companies, Camco Airport and Lees A&A, which started the project with a capital investment of $1 billion.
Each firm holds a 50 per cent stake in the venture.
The NSRIA, which will be able to handle between 10 and 15 million passengers a year, is set to be constructed on about 500 hectares of concession land in two districts.
The Chie Kreng and Sonikum districts are 60 kilometres from the provincial capital, Siem Reap.
Kim Sophoan, under-secretary of the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation said yesterday he was working on the NSRIA but was not aware of a new airport in Phnom Penh.
He did agree that a recent increase in tourists would require the government to build an airport to internat-ional standards and capable of receiving large aircraft.
Khek Norinda, communications and PR director for the Cambodia Airports Authority, said they had received a concession from the government to develop the Kingdom’s two existing airports.
Norinda said the Cambodia Airport Authority was preparing to expand Phnom Penh’s existing airport next year, and this project was scheduled to be finished by the end of 2014 or early 2015.
“We will be launching the project at the beginning of next year, and the expansion works for both airports will double their handling capacity to five million passengers a year,” he said.
“That’s five million for Siem Reap and five million for Phnom Penh.”
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