Multiple Airport Projects Underpin Cambodia’s Growth Hopes

 - January 17, 2020, 9:07 AM

Plans to build a second international airport at Cambodia’s capital are slowly coming to fruition after authorities shortlisted three Chinese firms to participate in the final bidding for the $1.5 billion mega-project. Speaking with AIN on Thursday, Cambodian State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) senior deputy director Sinn Chanserey Vutha said that while five companies had expressed interest, three will move forward in the application process, adding that planners had completed more than 60 percent of the design concept.

A joint venture between local real estate conglomerate Overseas Cambodia Investment Corporation (OCIC) and the SSCA, Phnom Penh International Airport will cover an area of 2,600 hectares south of the capital in Kandal province, making it one of the world's largest airports by land area. OCIC holds a 90 percent ownership stake and will invest $280 million; the remaining $1.1 billion will come from foreign bank loans. According to the SSCA, the new airport will accommodate 27 million passengers by 2030 and 30 million by 2050.

Cambodia’s coastal area also stands to benefit from a new airport after the government on Monday approved the relocation of the planned Koh Kong International. A joint-venture between local conglomerate LYP Group and Bangkok Airways, the proposed airport would occupy 600 hectares in the Mondul Seima district in Cambodia’s southwest. Chanserey Vutha said the two sides will conduct a feasibility study over the next six months with an eye toward finalizing plans by year-end.

“The chosen site for the new airport is much larger than the previously proposed location,” he told AIN. “The new space will allow investors to build additional infrastructure, including hotels, restaurants, and an industrial zone.”

Meanwhile, earthworks continue at the proposed site of the new $900 million Siem Reap Angkor International Airport. Situated some 25 miles from Angkor Archaeological Park and covering an area of 700 hectares, the new airport—funded and built by Chinese interests—is part of a larger plan to connect main international corridors under China's ambitious Belt and Road Initiative. Once complete, the new airport will accommodate 7 million passengers annually.

Passenger traffic at Cambodia’s three existing airports grew by 12 percent, to 10.6 million, in the first 11 months of 2019, thanks to a proliferation of new air routes. Sihanouk International Airport saw the largest increase, at 177 percent, while Phnom Penh recorded a 12 percent increase. Meanwhile, Siem Reap International saw passenger traffic slip 11 percent, to 3.5 million passengers carried.