I originally posted this a few days ago however I couldn't get the pictures to work. I have now re uploaded this time with the pictures for your perusal.
I have been a long time viewer of forums on airliners.net and have always wanted to post a trip report or in some way make a contribution to this forum. Finally I have done it with a story for you all about a domestic trip in Cambodia on a little known airline, Cambodia Bayon Airlines, on a relatively uncommon plane in the skies, the turboprop Xian MA60.
AIRLINE: Cambodia Bayon Airlines
ROUTE: Siem Reap (REP) to Sihanoukville (KHS)
AIRCRAFT: Xian MA60
A video presentation of this flight can be found on this link to my YouTube channel: Feel free to like and subscribe.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hfg42K_QDnE&t=26s
This trip report was just one small part of an epic trip that my wife and I made across to the Middle East and back to Australia. I intend to review some of the other legs of this “milk run” but in summary:
Jetstar Asia: Darwin-Singapore (320)
Sri Lankan Airlines: Singapore-Colombo-Abu Dhabi (320/321neo)
Qatar Airways: Muscat-Doha-Bangkok (332/77W)
Thai Smile: Bangkok-Siem Reap (320)
Cambodia Bayon Airlines: Siem Reap-Sihanoukville (MA60)
Jetstar Asia: Phnom Penh-Singapore (320)
Qantas: Singapore-Sydney (332)
Qantas: Sydney-Brisbane-Darwin (73H/73H)
So how did we come to flying on this relatively unknown aircraft and airline? Well, quite simply, it’s what came up on a Google search for ways to get from Siem Reap to the islands off the west coast of Cambodia. My wife informed me that the best place to get to the islands was from Sihanoukville, a port town and get a ferry from there. She let me know about this airline she had found called Cambodia Bayon Airlines and I proceeded to check out their website. Sure enough, they had what we were looking for, a flight from Siem Reap to Sihanoukville. Off on the website to book with the cost being a respectable US$62 per person for the one-way flight including 20 kg of baggage! Interestingly their main form of payment was trough PayPal so the following day I contacted the airline to ensure payment had been received and we were indeed confirmed for the flight.
Travel day came along but first thing in the morning we visited the historic temples of Angkor Wat near Siem Reap which took up most of our morning. Fortunately, being a domestic flight, the check-in time was 30 minutes before departure. Considering we spent a lot of time at Angkor Wat in the morning, this was fortuitous and after a few tense moments of watch checking, we arrived at the domestic terminal of Siem Reap Airport about 40 minutes before departure.
The domestic terminal is a small stand-alone building but shares a common ramp with the larger international terminal which caters for most of the flights into and out of Siem Reap. Check-in was quick with very few passengers in the terminal at the time and security was swiftly passed through. The main waiting area inside the terminal has a small cafe and gift shop along with a small number of boarding gates, all ones that involve walking to the aircraft. We took the chance to have some lunch at the small cafe there with a reasonably priced ham and cheese croissant and a latte (well needed after a 4am start that morning!).
Boarding was called for the flight and very quickly we were walking out on the ramp to our MA60 that would take us to Sihanoukville that afternoon. As my father said to me later on, it looked like a Fokker Friendship clone but it certainly was an impressive sight seeing it there. Boarding was through the rear stairs and for me being a tall man, a squeeze through the door and we were welcomed by the two flight attendants for this trip.
We took our seats, 12C and 12D, which was the last row of economy on the 2-2 configuration. But interestingly we weren't at the very back of the cabin. There were actually two business class seats behind us in a 1-1 configuration, partially seen in the picture below, with one of these seats being occupied. I imagine the reason for this would be to keep these passengers in a quieter part of the aircraft and not next to the noisy propellers.
Doors were closed, aircraft pushed back and safety demonstration was completed. Since there are no inflight entertainment screens on board, the lead flight attendant announced the safety instructions with the other flight attendant demonstrating. It was a short taxi to REP's Runway 23 for a short but powerful take off. The video of this take off can be viewed here:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ifhlwiCGJA
It was a quick climb-out from Siem Reap over the nearby countryside and lakes which provided spectacular views of the scenery. Soon enough we were at our cruising altitude for the flight in which both my wife and I fell asleep due to sheer exhaustion of our early start that day. Although I wasn’t able to observe, it did seem that the flight attendants had offered tea, coffee and water throughout the short flight.
We awoke to the descent into Sihanoukville, once again greeted by the wonderful green scenery of forests and farm land below. The descent and approach was fairly smooth with the odd bump here and there. We landed smoothly on the runway and after a quick deceleration we were on the taxiway and headed towards the terminal for de-boarding. The descent, landing and taxi can be seen in this video link.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rkHCcZXpgm0
Disembarking from the aircraft was via the stairs and a short walk to the terminal to the baggage claim area. There was just a short wait for our baggage and we were on our way outside the terminal to arrange a taxi to the town and off to enjoy our time on the wonderful islands of the coast of Cambodia.
My overall thoughts on the flight, aircraft and airline are generally positive. The aircraft was clean and quite modern looking inside. The airline gave good, friendly service and we had no problems with check-in, the whole flight or getting our bags afterwards. I would recommend this airline if you’re travelling internally within Cambodia as they provide good service at good value for money.