$100-Million Airport Expansion Project Begins

A $100 million project to expand the passenger terminals at Phnom Penh and Siem Reap international airports has begun, as Cambodia strives to accommodate vigorous passenger growth.

Khek Norinda, communications director for Cambodia Airports, said the development, which started in January, will see an extension of the parking lots and terminals, including more check-in and immigration counters and new baggage handling systems.

“The commercial area will be enlarged for more retail shops offering a larger range of brands, new [food and beverage] outlets and a mezzanine CIP [commercially important person] lounge to cater to first-class and business travelers,” he added.

The current construction is the first phase of an expansion program to upgrade facilities and address the rising number of visitors to Cambodia, which reached 4.2 million in 2013 compared with 3.68 million the year before, according to Ministry of Tourism statistics.

“Each airport will double its capacity to 5 million [passengers per year] from the current 2.5 million [passengers per year]” Mr. Norinda said.

Last year, families living in Choam Chao commune’s Thmar Kaul village, near Phnom Penh airport, protested to authorities and Cambodia Airports over a decision to evict the villagers from their homes, which were deemed too close to the runway and posed a safety threat.

Mr. Norinda said the airport expansions will be within the company’s boundaries.

“There are no expansions that go beyond the airports’ boundaries and they mostly involve the extensions of the terminals and car parks,” he said.

It is estimated the extensions will be completed by the end of 2015 for Siem Reap airport and 2016 for Phnom Penh.

According to a recent report by Sydney-based Center for Asia-Pacific Aviation, “Cambodia has emerged as one of the fastest growing markets in Southeast Asia, recording 18 percent passenger growth for the second consecutive year in 2013.”

Siem Reap is Cambodia’s fastest growing airport, with traffic up 20 percent to 2.7 million passengers in 2013, while Phnom Penh’s traffic was up 15 percent to 2.2 million.

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