A US company announced plans Friday to begin badly needed renovation work on Siem Reap Airport’s navigational and communications systems.
Airport Systems International is to start work next month and plans to set up a non-directional beacon, a tower, a communications system and a high-frequency omni-range system.
The construction is part of a larger $14 million project sponsored in part by the Asian Development Bank, said Keo Sophal, the director-general of the State Secretariat for Civil Aviation.
Work on Siem Reap Airport is scheduled to be finished in August, the aviation official said.
Keo Sophal also renewed calls to end direct Bangkok-Siem Reap flights, making Pochentong Airport the sole gateway for international flights after its renovation.
“Flying direct [to Siem Reap] is just a short-term decision done because of the fighting in Phnom Penh in 1997, when tourists were too scared to come here,” Keo Sophal said referring to street battles that ousted Prince Norodom Ranariddh as first premier .
However, Director-General of Tourism So Mara said he had not heard of any plans to phase out Bangkok-Siem Reap flights. He reiterated his stance that two international gateways into Cambodia are vital for tourism.
“I don’t think we need to cancel the flights,” So Mara said. “We are not just working for Phnom Penh. We are working for the whole country.”
Bangkok Airways and Royal Air Cambodge are the only carriers making the direct flight. Since then, businesses in the capital have complained the direct flights cost them tourist revenues. (Additional reporting by Mhari Saito)