Prime Minister Hun Sen has asked China to build a new airport in Siem Reap province “in the near future,” according to a post on the premier’s Facebook page, but aviation and provincial officials said they knew nothing about the proposal.
Mr. Hun Sen made the request in a meeting with Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang in China’s Hainan province on Wednesday. He was in the country for the first Mekong-Lancang Leaders’ Meeting, during which China pledged $11.5 billion in loans and credit lines to Cambodia, Burma, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.
“Samdech Hun Sen requested that our Chinese friends build an expressway from Sihanoukville to Phnom Penh and a new airport in Siem Reap province,” read the Facebook post. “Our Chinese friends supported the requests and will review the proposals soon, so that construction can begin on the projects in the near future.”
The post did not say how much the airport might cost or when construction might begin.
Keo Sivorn, a spokesman for the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA), said he knew nothing about the prime minister’s request.
“He may be referring to a project that was proposed about seven to eight years ago, about 40 km from Siem Reap City,” he said. “But there has been no action on that project yet.”
A provincial official also said he was in the dark. “I know he raised this proposal recently, but I don’t know about it,” deputy provincial governor Sin Run said.
Norinda Khek, communications director for Cambodia Airports, which operates the country’s international airports in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville, did not answer emailed questions about the proposal but said the Siem Reap airport had recently been expanded.
“The extension of the present facilities was just completed and their handling capacity doubles from 2.5 million passengers to 5 million passengers a year,” he said. “At its present location, with additional expansion works, the airport can accommodate up to 6 to 7 million passengers.”