PM mulls Sihanoukville airport expansion

PHNOM PENH, 30 November 2018: Tourist arrivals to Cambodia’s Preah Sihanouk province are growing, but air connectivity and the capacity of Sihanoukville airport urgently requires an upgrade.

Khmer Times quoted Prime Minister Hun Sen, Wednesday, who stressed the need for improvements at Sihanoukville International Airport.

He was speaking to 18,000 garment workers in Kandal province’s Kandal Stung district, when he suggested the airport’s runway and terminal, among other facilities, were in need of an overhaul to meet future demand.

Cambodia is expected to welcome around 6 million international tourists this year and the government has set an ambitious target of 12 million a year by 2025.

“Due to the increase in international visitors, Cambodia’s three international airports will not be able to accommodate all tourists by 2025,” the PM said. “New airports in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh need to be built to serve 12 million visitors in 2025.”

Vinci Airports, the French company that holds a majority stake in the Kingdom’s international airports according to the PM supports the idea of building new airports in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.

There are already plans to extend the runway and upgrade facilities at Sihanoukville’s airport. To cater to tourist arrival growth, the airport must be able to handle mid-sized Airbus and Boeing aircraft and that would require extending the runway from the current 2,500 metres to at least 3,000 metres.

Last June, Sihanoukville International Airport completed an extensive remake of its passenger terminal, while taxi-ways were widened.

The 2016 to 2017 upgrade included an 80% expansion of floor space in the terminal, a revamp of facilities such as the check-in area, boarding lounge, baggage claim zone, and the installation of new equipment, including a baggage handling system.

First built in the 1960s as a military air base, Sihanoukville International Airport now handles 47 international and 56 domestic flights weekly.

In 2017 it handled 338,000 passengers up 114% on 2016, mainly due to the opening of expanded terminal and a subsequent increase in airline services.

Airlines flying to Sihanoukville

Sky Angkor Airlines Charter:ChengduSiem ReapWuhan
Sichuan Airlines Chongqing[18]
Ruili Airlines Fuzhou,[17] Kunming
Loong Air Hangzhou (begins 1 December 2018)
Lanmei Airlines Macau,[14] Phnom PenhJieyang[15]Siem Reap
Charter: Changsha [16]
KC International Airlines MacauSiem Reap
JC International Airlines Chongqing,[12] Guangzhou,[12] HangzhouPhnom Penh,[13] Siem Reap[13] Xi’an
Hainan Airlines Shenzhen[11]
Cambodia Bayon Airlines Siem ReapPhnom Penh
Cambodia Angkor Air Ho Chi Minh City,[10] Phnom PenhSiem Reap
Charter: Macau
Cambodia Airways Macau,[9] Phnom Penh
AirAsia Kuala Lumpur–International
9 Air

(Wikipedia chart)

This year, Sihanoukville will welcome around 2 million tourists, a 20% year-on-year increase. But as long as larger aircraft  cannot land at the airport, growth will be limited to the capacity of 180-seat A320s or Boeing 737s.

Nearly 1.2 million locals visited the province from January to September, a 2.72% increase. International tourist arrivals increased by 19.45% to reach 415,000.