The coastal province of Preah Sihanouk could become a hub for airfreight soon as suggested by a recent government study, a representative of the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) said.
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Speaking to Khmer Times on Tuesday, Sin Chan Sereyvutha, SSCA spokesperson, said Preah Sihanouk could become the next centre for air cargo in the country, taking the baton from Phnom Penh.
A government-led study recently found that the province has the highest potential in the Kingdom in terms of trade, tourism, and industry.
“Based on these factors, the province could become a hub for airfreight,” he said.
Mr Sereyvutha highlighted a new master plan to guide the development of the province. The new strategy is being drafted with the help of a team from the Chinese city of Shenzhen.
The plan, he said, envisions Preah Sihanouk as a “multi-purpose logistics hub”.
“When the master plan is finished, the authorities will have a strategy to develop the province sustainably prioritising tourism or trade,” he said.
In May, Minister of Industry Cham Prasidh met with a delegation from Shenzhen to discuss the master plan, which will use the Chinese city as a model.
“We will use our experience developing Shenzhen to develop Sihanoukville in line with the government’s Industrial Development Policy for 2015-2025,” Xiao Sima, head of the Shenzhen delegation, said.
The minister said the master plan will help develop Preah Sihanouk’s provincial town, Sihanoukville, into a modern, green city, as well as an attractive investment destination and an industrial hub.
Sihanoukville boasts Cambodia’s only deep-sea port, and international airport, and a railway line that connects to the capital.
Last year, the amount of cargo transported by air rose by a substantial 15.1 percent. A total of 74,655 tonnes were transported by airplane in 2018.
However, the latest report from SSCA showed that in June the volume of cargo transported by air in the Kingdom declined slightly. Only 6,708 tonnes were transported, a 3 percent drop compared to the same month last year.
That cargo is mostly comprised of machinery, agricultural produce, and spare parts.
Sin Chanthy, president of the Cambodia Freight Forwarders Association (CAMFFA), agreed that Sihanoukville could become a hub for airfreight in the future, but said the sector must first overcome a few hurdles, including high costs.
He said companies prefer to ship cargo by sea as it is still notably cheaper.
“Sea freight continues to grow rapidly in Sihanoukville with demand and investment for the service expanding,” he said.