Passenger and cargo traffic continues to grow at Cambodian three international airports. According to the private airports’ company Cambodia Airports – a subsidiary of Vinci Airports- the three airports of Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville handled a record number of passengers in the first three months of the year. Airports in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville received over 2 million passengers between January and March, an increase of 4.9% over the same period last year, Cambodia Airports said in its latest monthly newsletter. Total flight movements topped 20,000 during the period, a 6.6 year-on-year increase.
After many years of slower growth than in Siem Reap, Phnom Penh Pochentong International Airport catches up with faster growth rates: total passengers’ number grew by 10.1% to 863,000 during the first quarter of the year on more air connectivity. Siem Reap saw a modest 1.3 per cent year-on-year increase during the period, handling in excess of 1 million passengers, while Sihanoukville saw a 1.6% decline in passenger traffic despite 33.8 per cent more flight movements.
Talking to Cambodia’s English daily “The Phnom Penh Post”, Cambodia Airports Routes Development Manager Pichr Sopontara indicated that the Kingdom’s three airports should receive close to seven million passengers this year. According to calculation taking into consideration the current growth trend, Phnom Penh could even take over Siem Reap as Cambodia’s busiest airport by reaching 3.4 million passengers.
“Previously we had 28 airlines flying to Cambodia, but right now we have 30 airlines flying and more to come,” he declared to the Phnom Penh Post. “For us, we always expect the number [of passengers handled] to keep increasing.”
The growth in air traffic is driving plans to expand airport capacity. Early March, Cambodia Airports opened the expansion of both Phnom Penh and Siem Reap international airports. The capacity of both airports is now doubled, each airport is now able to welcome five million passengers per year.
Last week, Malaysian-based Muhibbah Engineering, which holds a 30 per cent stake in Cambodia Airports next to VINCI Airports, announced that it is planning to invest another $23 million to build a new domestic terminal in Phnom Penh to free up more space at the existing terminal for international arrivals. The project is expected to be completed in 2017. They are no plans for now to build a second runway either at Phnom Penh or Siem Reap.