Commercial operations began Monday at Cambodia’s newest and biggest airport, designed to serve as an upgraded gateway to the country’s major tourist attraction, the centuries-old Angkor Wat temple complex in the northwestern province of Siem Reap.A Bangkok Airways flight from Thailand was the first to land, with 16 additional flights scheduled for the first day of operations at the Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport.CAMBODIA’S PRIME MINISTER REACTIVATES FACEBOOK ACCOUNT 3 WEEKS AFTER BREAKUP WITH THE PLATFORMThe airport, which was built at a cost of about $1.1 billion on 1,730 acres of land about 25 miles east of Angkor Wat, boasts an 11,810-foot long runway. Construction began in 2020 to replace the old airport, about 3.1 miles from the temple site, which is being retired in part because of fear that vibrations from frequent flights were damaging the temples’ foundations. In this Friday, March 20, 2015, file photo, the sun rises behind Angkor Wat at the eastern site of Siem Reap province, some 143 miles northwest of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith, File)The new airport can handle 7 million passengers a year, with plans to augment it to handle 12 million passengers annually from 2040. It was constructed under a 55-year build-operate-transfer (BOT) program between Cambodia and China.UNITED NATIONS GROUP URGES CAMBODIA TO RELEASE CAMBODIAN-AMERICAN HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTAccording to the Ministry of Tourism, Cambodia received some 3.5 million international tourists in the first eight months of 2023, while for the whole of 2019 — the last year before the coronavirus pandemic — it received some 6.6 million foreign visitors. Tourism is considered one of the main pillars supporting Cambodia’s economy.Deputy Prime Minister Vongsey Vissoth, who headed the ceremony marking the start of operations, said the new airport will be officially inaugurated on Nov. 16 by Prime Minister Hun Manet and top Chinese officials.CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APPAnother Chinese-funded airport is being constructed at a cost of $1.5 billion to serve the capital Phnom Penh. The new Phnom Penh international airport, formally known as the Techo International Airport, is set on 6,425 acres and scheduled for completion in 2024.