Gone are the days of limited domestic flights in Cambodia. Now, there are any number of options for domestic flights in Cambodia: between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap and Siem Reap and Sihanoukville. JC Airlines is the latest addition to the market, and are offering cheap flights on both of these routes.
JC Airlines are operating two full-size A320 planes — these are not the nerve-wracking propeller planes flown by some of the other airlines in Cambodia. The hard product is pretty basic, with cheap but not uncomfortable seats. If you’ve flown budget airlines like Ryanair you’ll have an idea of what I’m talking about.
The soft product is fine, though. Even though the flight is only 40 minutes, they come around and offer passengers a water and half of a ham sandwich, crusts removed. The onboard crew was very nice, and the check-in was smooth (it’s handled by the airport staff that do all airlines). You must check in for JC Airlines domestic flights at least 40 minutes in advance.
The airline is closely affiliated with a Chinese budget airline, Ruili Airlines, which flies domestic routes in the Chinese mainland. JC Airlines has plans to expand and offer flights to Macau, China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, and have dreams of operating even further in Asia, but it remains to be seen if that will happen.
My only concern about JC Airlines is that I am not sure what experience level or training the pilots have. Although it’s cheaper than Cambodia’s national airline, Cambodia Angkor Air, my gut feeling is that it might not be as safe. The JC Airlines staff who post on Facebook haven’t soothed my nerves at all. That said, I’d definitely fly them again just because of the price.
One-way tickets between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap cost between $40 and $80, and Siem Reap to Sihanoukville are usually between $45 and $100, but they do have special deals that you can find on their Facebook page. At the time of writing, despite having the motto “easy to fly, easy to buy” tickets for JC Airlines could only be booked through a travel agent.