Cambodia Airports, the company that manages all international airports in the Kingdom, said it is investing $21 million to expand the runway in Sihanoukville International Airport to cope with the rapidly growing number of passengers.
Norinda Khek, communications and public relations director at Cambodia Airports, told Khmer Times in an email that the company began construction work on the project earlier this year.
“After carrying out environmental studies and complying with pertinent regulations, we started preliminary work at the beginning of this year.
“The project to extend and strengthen the runway is scheduled for completion in the first half of 2020, with an investment of more than $21 million,” he wrote, adding that the runway will be expanded from the current 2,500 metres to 3,300.
“It will be the longest runway in Cambodia and will have the capacity to accommodate wide-body, long-haul aircraft,” he added.
The expansion project follows a recommendation from Prime Minister Hun Sen last year in which he urged the company to revamp facilities at the airport in response to the rising number of passengers.
“Due to the increase in international visitors, Cambodia’s three international airports will not be able to accommodate all tourists by 2025,” Mr Hun Sen said. “New airports in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh have to be built to service 12 million visitors in 2025.”
Taing Sochet Krisna, director of the department of tourism in Preah Sihanouk province, said the runway expansion project is necessary to deal with the projected increase in tourists in upcoming years.
“I think it is very important to expand the facilities at the airport, especially the runway. It is important that it can handle long-haul aircraft.
“In view of the rising number of flights from China, we believe this type of investment is necessary,” he said.
“If we don’t upgrade our facilities now, we won’t be able to cope with the growing number of passengers in the future.”
According to Mr Norinda, last year air traffic increased by more than 92 percent, with a total of 650,000 passengers passing through Sihanoukville International airport.
“We expect that traffic momentum to continue in 2019, reflecting the rising popularity of Cambodia’s coast,” Mr Norinda said.
Last year, Preah Sihanouk province welcomed more than 2 million tourists, a 6 percent year-on-year rise, with the number of foreign visitors growing by 30 percent.