The Dara Sakor International Airport, which is now being built in the southwestern province of Koh Kong, will be ready in the next three years, according to the Minister of Aviation.
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The airport is being raised near the Dara Sakor resort, which Prime Minister Hun Sen earlier this year hailed as a “luxury eco-tourism destination” that will put Koh Kong on the map for international tourists.
The airfield, a project of Chinese-owned Union Development Group (UDG), will be able to handle long-haul aircraft like Boeing 777 and Airbus A340.
It will be located on Koh Kong’s Botum Sakor district, where the company was given a 99-year concession in 2008.
The Minister of the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) Mao Havanall told Khmer Times on Friday that construction of the Dara Sakor International Airport is going according to schedule.
“Among the five airports that are now being built, I think Dara Sakor International Airport in Koh Kong has a good chance of being the first one to become operational,” Mr Havanall said.
“It’s hard to say because it depends on the size of the development and the investment, but I think Dara Sakor will be the first one. It could be ready in 2021 or 2022,” he added.
During an interview with Khmer Times earlier this year, UDG vice president Wang Chao said the Dara Sakor International Airport will be partially operational by the end of 2020.
Mr Chao said it will take $200 million to complete the first phase of construction, in which 218 hectares of land will be developed, 187 of which will be used for the airfield.
Phase I includes the construction of a runway and a passenger terminal, both of which will be built before 2021, he said.
“The airport will be used by aircraft flying from countries around the world,” he said. “With Phase I completed, the airport will be able to handle 4 million tourists a year.”
Construction began in June 2018. Mr Chao said the first runway is almost ready.
“The construction of this airport is in line with the government’s vision of attracting millions of tourists to the country. It will be a key infrastructure connecting the coast with destinations around the world,” he said.
Yu Yong Yi, director of the Dara Sakor International Airport construction project, said the Phase I runway is 3.2 kilometres long and 60 metres wide. He said more than 67,000 square metres have been reserved for the tarmac.
Technicians, architects and other professionals employed in the project are all Chinese, while all construction workers are Cambodian.
Dara Sakor International Airport is a private-sector project but the management of flights and information will be carried out by SSCA, Mr Havanall said.
“The private sector can buy any equipment and build any facility in the airport but SSCA is in charge of managing information regarding flight arrivals and departures as well as all regulation,” he added.
Cambodia has three international airports – Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and Sihanoukville. The government and private partners have been studying the construction of five more – one in Phnom Penh near Kandal and Takhmao provinces as well as new airfields in Siem Reap, Poipet, Mondulkiri, and Koh Kong.
There are 44 airlines operating in the Kingdom’s airports.