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Liftoff looms for the new Siem Reap airport

Chea Vannak / Khmer Times Share:
ight restrictions over Angkor Wat have created difficulties for the present Siem Reap airport. Reuters

A new international airport for Siem Reap has come a step closer after a high-level technical working group was set up to work out the details.
The government established the group after a proposal was submitted to the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC).
The main work of the group, formed by the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA), will cover inspection of all aspects of the project, facilitate legal procedures, value the progress of the project and take action to deal with issues that arise, the SSCA said.
The new airport is to be built in Sout Nikom district, about 50 kilometers from Siem Reap City. Flight restrictions over Angkor Wat have created difficulties for the present airport.
The new facility will also double the present airport’s capacity of five million visitors a year.
Establishment of the technical team came soon after China’s Yunnan Investment Holdings Ltd. submitted full proposals for building the airport to the CDC, Sinn Chansereyvutha, the SSCA’s spokesperson, said yesterday.
Provincial governor Kim Bunsong said construction is due to start by the end of this year or early next year.
Provincial officials and officials from the Chinese company are also working on a rail link from the new airport to Siem Reap City, he said.
He did not know the cost of the new airport, but said construction would take from four to five years.
Mr. Bunsong said the Chinese company would get Council of Ministers’ approval later this month for the project.
Mr. Chansereyvutha said: “We’ve been informed by the CDC that the Chinese company had submitted official and complete investment documents to the CDC already, but we have not been informed by the company and have not seen those official investment proposals.
“So, we are not clear about the project at the moment.”
The investment company is legally required to consult the SSCA’s technical team over the design and standards of the project, he said.
The agreement on the project was signed last October during the state visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Cambodia.
The project to build the airport is being taken over by the Chinese company from a South Korean company.
The South Koreans were originally favored for a $1 billion-approved investment in the project, but this did not make progress.
Cambodia Airports is the only company to get the rights from the government to manage the country’s international airports in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville.
Khek Norinda, Cambodia Airports public relations director, told Khmer Times yesterday that his company and the government were still in talks over the new Siem Reap airport, but he did not elaborate.
Mr. Norinda said that in 2016, Siem Reap airport handled 3.5 million passengers and reported growth of 5.5 percent.
It was a significant growth, but the airport had experienced a slowdown compared with the past three years.

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