by Saigon Charlie
Sihanoukville Airport's re-opening took place without a hitch just before the Khmer New Year's celebration. As the 48-passenger, Russian made AN-24 made a picture perfect landing and taxied to the new and very modern terminal building, the assembled guests and dignitaries made their way out to the tarmac to greet those flying down from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville for the historical event.
Prior to the landing, a ceremony was held in which the Monks blessed the airport and said prayers for the success and happiness of everyone involved. After this important event and arrival of the VIPs from Phnom Penh, another ceremony was held in the main terminal facility for guests numbering over 100.
His Excellency, Mr. Pok Sam Ell, Secretary of State for the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation, spoke first. He was followed by Geoff Rider, the new General Manager of Sihanoukville Airport.
Mr. Rider stated that, "The new opening of the Sokha Beach Resort (a photo gallery) last Thursday which is the first International Beach Resort in Cambodia and the opening of the airport today will put Sihanoukville on the regional and international tourist map."
Mr. Rider also indicated that he expected large numbers of travelers between Siem Reap and Sihanoukville and that "as the tourism industry in Sihanoukville expands the airport will grow with the industry". He also indicated that there was additional provisions for the passenger terminal and customs and immigration services.
He also went on to mention the importance of working closely with the Sihanoukville Tourism Forum as well as local industry such as Cambrew which is the Sihanoukville brewer and bottler of Angkor and Pepsi products.
After these comments, airport guests and staff were treated to a buffet provided by Ariston Holdings, which is the group responsible for the management, maintenance and development of the new Sihanoukville Airport as well as partners in the development of the new 9-hole golf course alongside Ochheuteal Beach, Sihanoukville's most popular beach.
Airport operations are the responsibility of Ariston Holdings with the airport itself under the control of the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA). The airport's runway is 1,300 meters long and 34 meters wide and is capable of handling both general aviation and large, multi-engine, turbo-props such as the AN-24 and ATR-72. Plans are in place to expand the runway to accommodate even larger regional jet aircraft as well.
The 5 parking slots on the 275 x 90 meter tarmac in front of the very modern terminal building will hopefully soon be used to accommodate daily air operations from the capital of Phnom Penh and the resorts and temples of Siem Reap. Airport air traffic control is to be provided by Cambodia's C.A.T.S. - Cambodian Air Traffic Services both from their center in Phnom Penh as well as from the control tower located on top of the new terminal.
With the 'soft opening' of the airport in April 2004, it marks the first time since 1998 that regularly scheduled air operations and charter flights are expected to begin.
His Excellency, Mr. Pok Sam Ell and Mr. Geoff Rider sharing some ideas about Sihanoukville's airport future development and growth.
Mr. Rider with C.A.T.S. personnel in the new and modern airport control tower.
Progress Multitrade Captain Sergey with an airport opening guest in front of the modern terminal facilities. Captain Sergey and his crew of 5 answered many questions for members of the press and guests.
Ms. Khin Chaw Su (on right), Office Administrator for Nagacorp in Phnom Penh was very helpful and friendly with her efforts at making guests comfortable.by Saigon Charlie