Metallurgical Corporation of China (MCC) has been awarded a won the 2.67 billion yuan (US$405 million) contract to design and construct the airfield for a new airport in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, according to a report from Nikkei Asia. The airport has a total cost estimated at US$1.5 billion price tag, most of which is being funded by China, a key ally of Cambodia. The airport is part of the Cambodian government’s strategy to boost tourism, but it comes as other planned projects, including a new resort near Angkor Wat, face questions over their long-term feasibility.
The new airport and the Chinese contract raise questions about the future of French airport developer Vinci, which has a joint venture called Cambodia Airports managing the country’s main airports in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville. The company is 70 percent owned by France’s Vinci and 30 percent by Malaysian-Cambodian joint venture Muhibbah Masteron Cambodia. Once the new airport is developed, Phnom Penh’s existing facility is expected to be kept for domestic flights, air cargo, state delegations and military use.
The new Phnom Penh airport, which will cover about 700 hectares and form part of a broader residential and commercial development of about 2,600 hectares, is being overseen by local conglomerate Overseas Cambodia Investment Corp, or OCIC, according to the Nikkei Asia report. Run by Sino-Khmer tycoon Pung Kheav Se, OCIC invested US$280 million and holds 90 percent of the project, while Cambodia’s State Secretariat of Civil Aviation owns the remaining 10 percent, media reports said. Other companies involved include China State Construction Engineering, another state-owned enterprise that is building the terminal, and Foster & Partners of the US, which is in charge of the airport’s design.
When contacted by Asian Aviation for comment, Cambodia Airports said they were unable to publicly make comments at this time.