New Siem Reap airport to expand city's tourism base for post-pandemic recovery
Updated on Oct. 25, 2020 – At its current progress rate, the New Siem Reap International Airport (NSRIA) may be fully operational by the end of 2023, spelling an optimistic revival of the Siem Reap tourism industry after a two-year lull due to covid-19 restrictions.
It is situated in Sot Nikum District, 51km slightly northeast of the city proper and 28km from National Road 6. The distant location is partly an effort to shield UNESCO World Heritage Site Angkor Wat from noise and other forms of pollution, an ongoing side effect it suffers from the current airport less than 9km from the temple complex.
Construction began in March 2020, coinciding with the start of the pandemic in the Kingdom, the Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport is almost halfway to complete Phase 1 at 44% rate as of October 2022.
A category 4E airport, the runway will measure 3,600 meters long and 45 meters wide, which will allow the NSRIA to accommodate large aircraft used for intercontinental travel.
Overall, the airport site measures 700 hectares, while 1000-hectare property nearby has been delineated as the venue of a special economic or industrial zone that will also operate as an expressway to Siem Reap City. This will foster rapid and easy transportation to classic destinations, while also featuring a buzzing commercial complex.
The new airport will be an opportune development as the entire Kingdom anticipates a rapid upturn in tourist activity and foreign arrivals after an effective covid-19 mitigation and pandemic response program.
Read: Q1 foreign arrivals up by 114% in Cambodia
The NSRIA project had already been a subject of discussion over a decade ago. By August 2017, the Cambodian government had signed an $880 million contract with Yunnan Investment Holdings Ltd. (YIHL) for its upcoming development. Land clearance had also begun then.
YIHL operates the Angkor International Airport Investment (Cambodia) Co Ltd, also Chinese-owned. The firm will also have exclusive rights to run and manage the airport for 55 years, following a build-operate-transfer scheme agreed open with the Cambodian government.
Over the three decades after its completion, the NSRIA will be set for continuous expansion of its passenger capacity targeted at 20 million by 2050.