The Council for the Development of Cambodia plans to ask Prime Minister Hun Sen to allow a Korean-owned company to build a new $973 million airport in Siem Reap province, CDC officials said yesterday.
CDC officials met last week with representatives of NSRIA Ltd, a Cambodian company financed by Korean investors who expressed their desire to invest in a new international airport, which would replace the current airport, said CDC Deputy Secretary-General Duy Thov.
“They have committed the money from South Korea for a new airport,” said Mr Thov.
According to the website of South Korea’s Yooshin Engineering Corporation, NSRIA Ltd has been actively researching the Siem Reap project since 2006, when it hired YEC to do a feasibility study. The abbreviated results of the study available on the Internet call for the construction of a 3.5-kilometer, 45-meter wide runway with a parallel taxiway the same length and roughly half the width. The Yooshin report said the project would require some 500 hectares.
Deputy Governor of Siem Reap province Bun Tharith said yesterday that the government had already purchased 500 hectares of land in Sotr Nikum district’s Ta Yek commune for the project. According to Mr Tharith, 11,500 Cambodian workers will be hired to construct the new airport.
“If approved, the project will take three years to complete,” said Mr Tharith.
According to Victor Craig, managing director of Leading Edge Aviation Planning Professionals, a firm hired by NSRIA Ltd to consult on the new airport, the new airport was proposed in order to allow for direct flight from Japan and Korea.
“All that I can say it is a replacement for the current airport that would allow for more international traffic from farther away and open Siem Reap to more tourists,” said Mr Craig by phone from Kuala Lumpur.
The reason for creating a new airport rather than expanding Siem Reap’s current airport is that the existing runway is pointed towards the Angkor Wat temple complex, Mr Craig said, adding that the UN and others asked that an expanded runway be placed farther away from the complex and re-oriented away from the temples to limit potential damage from noise and vibrations.
According to Tourism Ministry data, roughly 54 percent of visitors to Cambodia from January through May of this year, or 565,803 people, arrived in Siem Reap. In 2009, 47 percent of visitors to Cambodia arrived in Siem Reap while the majority arrived in Phnom Penh.