AviationAnticipations rise for Cambodia's tourism as Siem Reap Angkor International Airport prepares for October opening.

Up, up, and away for Siem Reap as new Angkor airport takes off

The US$880m Siem Reap Angkor International Airport (SRAI) opens on 16 October.
The US$880m Siem Reap Angkor International Airport (SRAI) opens on 16 October. Photo Credit: Adobe Stock/Leonid Andronov

The Cambodian State Secretariat for Civil Aviation (SSCA) has announced that Siem Reap Angkor International Airport (SRAI), constructed by Yunnan Investment Holdings Limited at a cost of US$880 million, is set to commence operations on 16 October 2023.

The airport spans 304 hectares and is situated approximately 50km away from the city centre to preserve the historical Angkor Wat Archaeological Complex from air pollution.

At the start, the airport is expected to handle about seven million passengers annually. The airport's passenger capacity is projected to rise to 10 million by 2030 and 20 million by 2050.

SRAI will conduct test flights between October 5 and 15 before its official opening. Afterward, all commercial passenger flights and cargo from Siem Reap International Airport will be transferred to SRAI. The new airport is expected to improve airspace and airport capacity and enhance the travel experience in Cambodia.

Anticipation soars for new airports

So far, there are 26 airlines flying in and out of Cambodia, SSCA spokesman Sinn Chansereyvutha said, noting that 23 of them are international airlines.

The figure is around 50% of the total number of airlines operating before the Covid-19 pandemic, though this is set to rise with the operation of three new airports in Cambodia.

These include Techo Takhmau International Airport (TIA) in Phnom Penh and Dara Sakor International Airport in Koh Kong province.

With that, Chansereyvutha said the issue of airspace and airport capacity constraint is void, pointing out that TIA is slated to manage 13 million to 20 million passengers by 2040 while Dara Sakor can handle up to three million passengers by 2030.

Siem Reap's aviation sector poised for growth

In Siem Reap, nine airlines currently operate. Similarly, Chansereyvutha foresees growth with the new airport, though he was not able to indicate how many, seeing that airlines submit their flight schedule for flight permit just a week or two before flying into Cambodia.

“This month, Siem Reap recorded 102 flights per week, which is equivalent to the 204 flight movements. Let’s see how it is by 16 October,” he told Travel Weekly Asia.

Interestingly, he added, the month of October is considered “peak season”, which is timely with the opening of SRAI.

Based on Ministry of Tourism data, up to 201,490 passengers arrived by air in Siem Reap between January and May this year, which is up by more than 10 times from a year ago.

In 2019, 6.6 million people visited Cambodia, the record highest, with Siem Reap airport welcoming 1.6 million visitors, though it was 14% lower than the year before when 1.9 million people flew into the province.

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