After nine months of construction, the Societe Concessionaire de l’Aeroport handed over the $1.5 million VIP terminal at Pochentong Airport to the government in an inauguration ceremony on Tuesday.
The French-owned Vinci Co, a parent of SCA, financed 70 percent of the project, while the Malaysian-owned Muhibbah Group covered the rest with funding from the Exim Bank of Malaysia. The Malaysian government facilitated the loan, said Khek Norinda, head of SCA’s Communication and Marketing Department.
The new facility was designed by a team of French-Khmer architects who incorporated Angkorian principles, such as strict adherence to geometry and a centered, symmetrical composition, said Ros Borath, the team’s head.
Minister of Cabinet Sok An said the building is dedicated to welcoming official guests of the Kingdom, particularly those who will soon arrive for next week’s Asean Summit. The government expects the summit to draw up to 2,000 foreign delegates.
Sok An also said airport security is a priority, especially at the VIP facility. “Up until now, the security system for the old VIP terminal was not very strict,” he said. “So the new VIP hall needs to be properly controlled. From now on we need to have strong management and security because this [building] will only serve VIP guests.”
More guards than usual were visibly stationed around the VIP terminal Tuesday, but one foreign guest said he was alarmed by the ceremony’s poor security. He said that anyone properly attired was waved into the facility without being asked for credentials, much less checked for weapons.
Khek Norinda said SCA has so far spent about $100 million renovating the airport. He said the total cost could reach more than $120 million when it is completed.
The rest of the renovations should be finished in a few weeks and open to all travelers, said Joel Velasque, SCA’s chairman. Its official inauguration is scheduled for February 2003.