Lu Wei, the head of Angkor International Airport Investment (Cambodia) Co Ltd (AIAI), has hailed the upcoming Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport as a landmark achievement in Cambodian-Chinese cooperation.

The airport, he says, embodies the realisation of the government’s Rectangular Strategy.

Visiting the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (CATA) at the airport on July 17, Lu expressed his optimistic outlook for the facility.

He was quoted by the provincial information department as saying the airport will play a vital role in boosting Cambodian tourism.

“The new airport is spacious and opulent. It’s set to invigorate aviation development, facilitate visitor access to Angkor Wat, attract Chinese tourists to Cambodia, and spur tourism development while fostering Sino-Cambodian relations,” he said.

He pointed out that the airport’s location, about 40km away from Siem Reap town and Angkor Wat, also helps protect Cambodian heritage.

With its sprawling 700ha and Level 4 standard, he said the airport is expected to contribute to tourism growth, job creation and economic development, as well as contribute to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Sinn Chanserey Vutha, a spokesman for the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA), shared that the airport is scheduled to open this year on October 16.

“When this expansive airport becomes fully operational, we anticipate it will spur Cambodian economic growth, with the tourism sector benefitting particularly,” he said.

CATA president Chhay Sivlin, who also joined the visit, voiced her high hopes for the airport’s positive impact on Cambodian tourism.

“We possess robust infrastructure. The task at hand is to uplift service quality and broaden tourist attractions. Not only do tourists crave fresh experiences alongside their journey, but they also seek high-quality accommodation, food and travel agents. These are areas we need to perfect after the inauguration of this magnificent airport,” she articulated.

An SSCA report reveals a substantial surge in the Cambodian civil aviation sector for the first half of the year.

Air passenger numbers have soared by 270 per cent, and flight movements have increased by nearly 150 per cent compared to the same period in 2022.

The report notes that, in early July 2023, an average of 850 flights carrying national and international passengers and cargo were recorded weekly at Cambodia’s three international airports.

Twenty-six national and international airlines are restoring flights with nine countries and territories, including ASEAN nations, mainland China, South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Qatar.

The aviation flights in Cambodia have returned to 50 per cent of pre-Covid-19 operations, indicating an encouraging move towards normality.