International travelers wait in line at an immigration check point in Phnom Penh International Airport last year. Vireak Mai
Plan for new airport remains vague
Thu, 23 June 2016 ppp
Pech Sotheary and Yesenia Amaro
Officials yesterday continued to withhold details of a planned airport outside Phnom Penh, though traveller figures raise questions as to whether such a plan is actually necessary.
Deputy Secretary of State for Civil Aviation Soy Sokhan yesterday confirmed the motivation for the new airport was a projected spike in tourism, as did Senior Minister Yem Nolla, director of the economic, social and cultural council, saying a study had pointed to tourism growth to 5 million by 2025. The airport “will be full, that’s why we need to build a new one, as Sokhan said – but where it is, we don’t know the location”, Nolla said.
However, the current airport’s terminal was recently expanded to “double its capacity to 5 million passengers”, said Norinda Khek, spokesman for Cambodia Airports, which operates the country’s airports. In 2015, the airport saw a record 3 million passengers.
“Further expansion within the current boundaries is possible,” Khek said, adding that the company was still always discussing “future developments in any forms”.
Another senior official with Cambodia Airports, who asked not to be named as he wasn’t authorised to speak to the media, said the existing airport “has a long way to go” to reach its capacity.
“It’s hard to say how seriously [the government] is thinking about the new airport.” Government spokesman Phay Siphan said the planned airport is “just an idea”.