The $3.5 billion China-built Dara Sakor International Airport in Koh Kong province is scheduled to be operational in mid-2021, close to three years after work started, according to a report from the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA). It will be able to handle long-haul aircraft such as Boeing 777s and the Airbus A340.
During a site inspection of the construction earlier this week, the SSCA’s technical working group said by the end of 2020 or early 2021 it will fully complete flight validation.
The report added that on March 20 next year the company will complete acceptance of the construction and conduct a flight test the following day.
It noted the construction company, Tianjin-based Union Development Group, will send the completed building documents to the SSCA by May 30 and, by mid-2021, the company will request the SSCA to service and operate the airport.
On the airside, the apron is currently 90 percent complete, the 3,200-metre main runway is 99 percent ready, side strips are 90 percent finished, markings are 100 percent complete, the taxiway is 99 percent operational, drainage systems are 90 percent ready, navigation aids such as lighting systems have reached 60 percent completion and navigational aid equipment such as the Doppler VHF Omni Directional Range (DVOR)/Distance Measuring Equipment (DME) is already in the process of being installed.
On the landside, the passenger terminal building is 60 percent ready – the rest of the work being decoration, furniture, plumbing, electrical and mechanical systems and parking. Support buildings such as administration and accommodation are 80 percent ready as is the control tower, while the access road is 10 percent complete and the airport fence is 100 percent finished.
In terms of other achievements, the petroleum station is 90 percent ready, the petroleum warehouse is 60 percent close to completion, the rescue and fire-fighting services (RFFS) road is 60 percent near to being finished, while the RFFS itself is 10 percent ready and water treatment is 60 percent complete.
All work on the project built over 4.5 hectares of land in Botum Sakor district near the Gulf of Thailand will be finished by the end of the year, the report said.
Sinn Chanserey Vutha, spokesman for the SCCA, said the company is working within the schedule set for completion despite the advent of COVID-19. When asked if there will be passengers passing through the airport during the pandemic, Vutha said that it is up to the government to target low-risk countries and impose so-called Covid-free travel bubbles to attract tourists. “Phnom Penh International Airport is the hub and transit for business activities, investment and tourism, but Dara Sakor International Airport is principally for tourists and charter or special flights,” he said. “It will serve high class tourists,” he added, principally travelling on to Dara Sakor Resort. The resort is arguably the largest of its kind in the world. Development started in 2008 with the target of developing as much as 20 percent of Cambodia’s coastline.
The project covers 360 square kilometres of land – more than half the size of Singapore – and includes parts of the Botum Sakor National Park. It has a 99-year lease signed in April 2008.
The mega-complex has a port for cruise ships, international golf courses, a casino, apartment buildings and hotels.
Cambodian Ministry of Tourism Secretary of State Top Sopheak welcomed the move. He said that it is another new attractive tourism product in Cambodia also providing jobs for locals.
“The airport will facilitate transportation for tourists to visit Dara Sakor or to fly from Dara Sakor to other destination such as Siem Reap or Preah Sihanouk,” he added.