Current Cambodian airport near Angkor Wat to close in October

The new Siem Reap airport, opening in October 2023, has been built to end the environmental threat to the Angkor Wat temple heritage.

Following the near-completion of a brand new airport 50 km east of Siem Reap, the current flight base close to the Angor Wat temple complex will close in October 2023. The Cambodian civil aviation authorities have confirmed that the old airport will no longer be used for public flights. Government spokesman Chanserey Vutha said the new airport, though much further away, was necessary to boost the number of international flights and to end the environmental damage to the Siem Reap ancient ruins caused by aircraft vibrations and pollution.

The spokesman added that current tourist numbers are only about 40 percent of the boom year of 2019 during which over 6 million foreigners entered the kingdom. Once the new airport is operational in October, he expected at least 300 flights a week to and from a variety of Chinese cities. The US$1 billion dollar structure has been built largely with Chinese loans and grants, channeled through the Yunnan Investment Group.

Separately, Phnom Penh is also to have a new airport Techo Takhmao International which is scheduled to open in 2024. Situated in Kandal province and about 35 km from the city, it will be the ninth largest in the world and will contain the latest hi-tech features for communication and safety. Currently, the main limiting factor for international Cambodian tourism is the lack of direct flights from the USA, Europe, Russia and India with most passengers transiting in Bangkok. That brake will soon be lifted.