Siem Reap Angkor International Airport (SAI) has officially opened its doors, becoming the main gateway to one of the country's most iconic tourist sites, the UNESCO-listed Angkor Archaeological Complex.
Last Monday (October 16), Bangkok Airways made its first flight to the new airport, marking a new chapter in Cambodian aviation history. With the code SAI assigned by the International Air Transport Association, the airport takes over the role of Siem Reap International Airport (REP), which has been the heart of transportation since 1932. The airport is located about 40 kilometers from the protected area and only a few kilometers from the magnificent Angkor complex.
Funded by China as part of the Belt and Road Initiative, the $1.1 billion airport, built on 700 acres of land, has attracted international attention. No wonder the runway is 3,600 meters long. With an initial plan to handle 7 million passengers a year, the airport is designed to be the region's main transportation hub.
This is 2 million passengers more than Siem Reap International Airport (REP). In fact, the airport plans to increase its capacity to 12 million passengers per year by 2040. This is an important step in accommodating the growing tourism boom in the region.
According to a report by the Economic and Commercial Office of the Chinese Embassy in Cambodia, the airport is attracting attention as the first overseas project to be undertaken by a Chinese company under the "build-operate-transfer" approach. Under the management of Yunnan Aviation Industry Investment Group, the airport has been categorized as a "4E airport", ready to accommodate large commercial aircraft that frequently fly on global long-haul routes.
The project began in 2020 with a design inspired by the beauty of traditional Cambodian architecture. While the airport's official website still provides limited information on the facilities and services available at the airport, a comprehensive flight schedule has been made available to eager passengers. The airport is sure to be an important milestone in the expansion of tourism and business in Cambodia.
After the new Siem Reap-Angkor airport opened its doors for commercial operations, the good news came in a series of numbers. Earlier, Cambodia's Ministry of Tourism released the latest data showing that the country welcomed 3.5 million international tourists in the first eight months of 2023. This figure represents a significant jump of 250.8% compared to the same period last year.
This development brings Cambodia closer to its goal of welcoming around 4.5 to 5 million international tourists by the end of this year, according to the ministry. Many of these visitors choose Siem Reap as their destination, especially to explore the wonders of the Angkor complex. This magnificent archaeological site is considered one of the most important in Southeast Asia and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Flights to the new airport will serve a variety of regional routes, including flights from Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, and Singapore, according to FlightAware.
In an important announcement, Deputy Prime Minister Vongsey Vissoth, who presided over the inauguration of the new airport's operations, also revealed that the airport will be officially inaugurated by Prime Minister Hun Manet along with top officials from China on November 16.
Source: CNN | euronews.com | travelandleisure.com