Cambodia is becoming a dedicated follower of fashion

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Royal Palace, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Cambodia’s air cargo sector is driven by sharply rising garment exports, Michael Mackey writes.

Signs of Cambodia’s increasingly active air cargo sector come from a third carrier from the country, Lanmei Airlines, appointing Hong Kong’s Asia Airfreight Terminal as its cargo terminal operator.

Lanmei launched a new link between Sihanoukville in Cambodia and Hong Kong using an A321. Sihanoukville is an emerging hub due to its deepwater port and designated industrial zone.

This follows on similar deals with JC (Cambodia) International Airlines who operate direct services from to Phnom Penh (pictured) and Siem Reap with an A320 and Cambodia Angkor Air, the national flag carrier of the south east Asian kingdom.

News which is exciting interest is the recent announcement of a new airport near the existing Phnom Penh airport.

The proposed new $1.5 billion airport will have a 2,600-hectare site in Kandal province south of the capital, the official Agence Kampuchea Presse said.

“(This) will be made possible through a co-investment of 90 per cent from a domestic group OCIC (Overseas Cambodia Investment Corporation) and 10 per cent from the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation,” AKP.gov.kh said.

Details however are scarce but local media have reported the new facility will be able to accommodate long haul flights, a significant upgrade if true. No time line is available and China’s role, following the recent signing of a number of infrastructure co-operation deals with Cambodia, is unclear but said to be sizeable.

What is raising eyebrows as one source, who asked not to be named, pointed out to Air Cargo Week is the scale of the venture. Especially when put against the estimated cost.

At 2,600 hectares this would be the ninth-largest airport in the world (Chicago O’Hare in the US is 2,610 hectares for comparison and Beijing Capital International in China is 2,330 hectares).

More tellingly the current Phnom Penh International Airport is about 400 hectares. “Key actors have yet to work out the details and open questions remain. So it is too early to say what the implications could be, but we are keeping a close eye on the development,” the source says.