Cambodia Copes with Double-Digit Traffic Growth

 - February 5, 2014, 9:00 AM
Phnom Penh International Airport saw a 15-percent increase in traffic last year. (Photo: Gabriele Stoia)

The operator of Cambodia's three international airports recently received more than $100 million for upgrades in an effort to accommodate strong passenger growth driven by the country’s nascent tourism industry. Cambodia Airports—a subsidiary of French firm Vinci, which serves as the concession company for the international gateways at Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville—has begun construction and expects it to progress in stages over the next two years.  Plans call for the extension of the existing terminal in Phnom Penh by more than 200,000 square feet and include a third floor to offer better services to business travelers. The upgrades will include new IT systems, check-in counters, boarding gates and traveler services. Last year, the airport received 2.4 million visitors, an increase of 15 percent compared with 2012. Phnom Penh offers 26 routes through 20 airlines and serves as a hub for national carrier Cambodia Angkor Air.

Meanwhile, construction on an extension to Siem Reap’s terminal continues. Plans call for it to double in size by next year, with an expansion of arrival and immigration facilities and more check-in counters. Last year, the airport handled 2.6 million passengers, 20 percent more than in 2012.

Since 2009, Siem Reap has emerged as the fastest growing airport in Cambodia and has become a popular holiday destination, particularly among Asian tourists attracted by low fares and direct routes. South Korean visitors account for 28 percent of traffic, followed by Chinese passengers at 22 percent. Six carriers launched services to Siem Reap in 2013, including Spring Airlines, Thai AirAsia, Dragonair, Air Busan, Air China and Jin Air. Planners expect passenger traffic to reach five million at both Phnom Penh and Siem Reap by 2025.

World renowned for its Buddhist temples, including the Unesco heritage site Angkor Wat, Cambodia last year attracted 5.1 million passengers, up 18 percent on 2012. Tourists account for 90 percent of the Cambodian market. The country has consistently posted double-digit traffic growth for the last four years and has emerged as one of the fastest growing markets in Southeast Asia.