CAMBODIA has a new airport to attract tourists to visit Angkor Wat. It is called Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport (SIA), which is about 40 kilometers away.

Indeed, it is located further from Angkor Wat than the old airport which was only five kilometers away. According to the local government, the old airport was no longer in use because there were concerns that vibrations from frequent flights would damage the temple’s foundations

Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport, this airport was built in collaboration with Cambodia and China at a cost of around US$1.1 billion or around IDR17.3 trillion. The area is 700 hectares with a runway 3,600 meters long. Construction began in 2020 to replace the old airport.

The airport, which is now the largest in Cambodia, welcomed its first flight, on Monday, October 16 2023. Starting with a Bangkok Airways flight from Thailand, and 16 other scheduled flights on the airport’s first day of operation.

It is hoped that the new airport can handle 7 million passengers per year. And it can gradually increase its capacity to 12 million passengers every year starting in 2040.

Tourism is considered one of the main pillars supporting the Cambodian economy. According to the Ministry of Tourism, Cambodia received around 3.5 million international tourists in the first eight months of 2023. Meanwhile, throughout 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic, it received around 6.6 million foreign visitors.

According to Deputy Prime Minister Vongsey Vissoth, who presided over the ceremony marking the start of the operation, said the new airport was completed on time, despite construction delays during the pandemic.

“The launch and operation of the first commercial flight to SAI is a turning point for Cambodia in promoting tourism development in its historic region, with the largest international airport in the Siem Reap Angkor region,” said Vongsey Vissoth

He confirmed that this airport would be officially inaugurated on November 16 2023 by Prime Minister Hun Manet and high-ranking Chinese officials.

Apart from Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport, there is another airport funded by China, namely Techo International Airport. The airport, which is scheduled to be completed in 2024, was built at a cost of US$1.5 billion or around IDR23.6 trillion. [sources/photo special]