Battambang Airport Upgrade Under Review

Battambang Governor Sok Lu speaking during a press conference. Photo: Government's spokesperson Unit

PHNOM PENH – Veal Bek Chan Airport in Battambang province is being studied for an upgrade from 3C to the 4C category, allowing bigger jets to take off and land.

Battambang Governor Sok Lu said the province has been preparing more than 800 Khmer traditional houses for the arrival of tourists along with smart city infrastructure and Steung Sangke riverside development.

The government decided to upgrade the airport to the same category as the current Siem Reap airport in line with a statement by Prime Minister Hun Sen in 2019, Sok Lu said on Jan. 24.

The 4C category has a runway of 1800 meters and takes aircraft with wingspans of up to 36 meters.

Although the approval was three years ago, the study was delayed due to the outbreak of COVID-19 in early 2020.  

“Through a series of discussions, the team is working on the study on the impacts and safety factors of the construction of the upgrading of the Veal Bek Chan airport, and to seek solutions to the effects of the development,” Sok Lu said.

He added that study had just started and he could not yet say how much progress had been made. No more information on the study was available.

He hoped that the upgraded airport would make it easier for tourists and investors.  It would also boost the provincial economy, which already shares around 8.8% of the national GDP.

Veal Baek Chan Airport was built in 1967 but its use stopped in 1975 during the Khmer Rouge regime.

The airport was operated between 1979 until 1991 for military use only. It was shut again and became a park for local people.

Battambang province alone welcomed more than 2.5 million national and international tourists, among which around 2.3 million were nationals.

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