Construction on $1 Billion Airport in Siem Reap Set for Mid-2011

South Korean-funded development firm NSRIA Co announced on Wednesday that it would begin construction in mid-2011 on a new $1 billion international airport in Siem Reap that will include an attached 40 square km “new city.”

According to the statement, the completed project will include a 100,000 square meter terminal and facilities that will be able to take on 33 aircrafts at a time, making it possible to handle 15 million passengers annually.

“This represents Cambodia’s largest national project and Korea’s first-ever export of its airport development and operation expertise,” the statement said.

According to Seoyoung Park, a general manager at Lees Aviation & Airport Co, one of the two major investors in the project, a “special economic zone or new city will accompany the airport,” and include a dry port, resorts, and other leisure facilities.

The first phase of the project, expected to start in mid-2011, will use an initial $500 million to build a 40,000 square meter terminal capable of handling 4 million passengers a year, the statement says. The rest of the $1 billion will go into the final phase of development. The completion date is not yet known.

The new airport will also be the first facility in the country capable of handling direct long-haul flights from Europe and North America, helping to increase the influx of visitors, the statement said.

Siem Reap provincial deputy governor Bun Tharith said he was excited for the project because it would help bring jobs and capital and would increase tourism to the area. “The Cambodian people will have jobs to do, and [the project] could help to reduce poverty when completed.”

Through October this year, Cambodia has welcomed about 2,009,000 million visitors in total, with about half arriving by air, and only about 1 million visiting Siem Reap, the Tourism Ministry said yesterday. By 2015, tourism specifically to Siem Reap is expected to increase to 4 million annually, and 7 million by 2020.

Societe Concessionnaire des Aeroports, in charge of Phnom Penh International Airport, and Siem Reap International Airport, said yesterday that plans are in the works to increase the Siem Reap airport’s passenger traffic capacity from 1.56 million now to 6 million, although the dates for the plans were unspecified. The group declined to comment on the development of the new airport.

(Additional reporting by Khuon Narim)


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