Cambodia’s most recent and largest airport has commenced commercial operations in the province of Siem Reap in the country’s northwest.

The Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport, funded by China, now serves as the principal gateway to one of Cambodia’s most popular tourist destinations, the UNESCO-listed Angkor Archaeological Complex.

On Monday morning, a flight operated by Thailand’s Bangkok Airways became the first to touch down at the new airport, situated approximately 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the protected heritage area.

Designated with the International Air Transport Association code “SAI,” this new airport supersedes the Siem Reap International Airport (REP), which first opened in 1932 and is located just a few kilometers from the Angkor complex.

This state-of-the-art airport, funded by China as part of its Belt and Road Initiative at a cost of around $1.1 billion, was designed to accommodate an initial annual passenger capacity of 7 million travelers—2 million more than REP—and boasts a 3,600-meter-long runway.

According to the Economic and Commercial Office of the Chinese Embassy in Cambodia, it is the first overseas international airport constructed under a “Build-Operate-Transfer” model by Chinese enterprises and is operated and managed by the Yunnan Aviation Industry Investment Group. As a “4E airport,” it can facilitate larger commercial aircraft, including many utilized on global long-haul routes.

Construction of the airport commenced in 2020, with its design reportedly drawing inspiration from traditional Cambodian architectural styles. While the official airport website offers minimal information on available services, shops, and restaurants at the new facility, it provides a comprehensive schedule of departing and arriving flights.