No more CSA to the UK

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Czech Republic, Eastern Europe, Heathrow | Posted on 31-08-2010

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CSA Czech Airlines has announced that it will no longer serve its two routes to the UK from the Winter 2010/11 timetable.

It will cancel its services from Prague to London Heathrow and Manchester from 30th and 29th October respectively.

The rest of their network continues as normal.

Spotting at Brize Norton

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 23-08-2010

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Ever fancied seeing a classic VC-10 buzz just a few feet over your head in a scene reminiscent of St. Maarten’s famous Maho Beach? How about a mix of military and civil types of yesteryear all in one place? Brize Norton is one of the UK’s busiest military transport bases. It is located in Oxfordshire, closed to Abingdon, and around 65 miles northwest of London. Brize is home to the RAF’s VC-10 and L1011 Tristar fleets, as well as the C-17s and a number of Hercules aircraft. Since it is a major staging post for troops and supplies, it also handles a lot of large cargo aircraft, such as DC-8′s and AN-124′s. It also plays host to a number of private airlines being used for troop movements, flying 757s, 767s and DC-10s. The primary spotting location is at the end of Runway 26. The A4095 road leading north from Bampton towards Brize passes very close to the end of the runway. With care you can park near a crash gate as long as you do not block it. Alternatively, park on a nearby road and walk to the spot. Here you will be just a few feet under the aircraft as they approach the runway. It is perfect for photos, and has some views over the ramp (it’s difficult to read things off). To get close to the ramps usually used by the VC-10s, head west from Bampton on the A4095 and follow signs for Black Bourton. If you follow the road through this village as far as it goes, you will come to the perimeter fence. A footpath leads in either direction, and has some close-up views of the VC-10s and the runway. Eventually you can walk to the Runway 08 end too. Here’s a nice aerial view of the airfield . As always, tread with care. Military bases have incredibly tight security. Although spotters are common and tolerated at Brize Norton, don’t push your luck by trespassing or blocking a gate.

Amsterdam Schiphol hotel with airport views

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Netherlands | Posted on 18-08-2010

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Simon Brooke has recently written a report of a new-ish hotel at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport which has airport views and very reasonable prices.

The CitizenM hotel is a cross between a boutique hotel and the Starship Enterprise.
It is located a short (3 minutes or so) walk from the terminal at AMS (with a covered walkway) and overlooks the easyJet stands and everything to the north of that.

It is almost totally computerised so there is, for example, no reception – just six self-service check-in screens. As the screens give a “runway view”
room choice, this shouldn’t be a problem for enthusiasts.

The view from the fifth (top) floor is pretty good!

The rooms are not very big, and the bed takes up the whole width of the room
for a couple of metres from the window into the room (so the only way to get
a really good view out of the window is to lie on the bed – spotting in
comfort!!!!). No good for photography as the venetian blinds are adjustable
but immovable.

Wi-Fi is free, and there is a British 13 Amp socket in the room (as well as
several European sockets) but the 2 tables are tiny. However the bed is so
big that the SBS box and laptop can happily lie on it beside a single
sleeper….

The bar/coffee shop is open H24 and snacks (hot & cold) are available H24 as
well. There are, of course, plenty of other eating options in the Schiphol
terminal.

There is no parking at the hotel, and the hotels is all non-smoking.

The computerised check-in system allows you to check in early – before 14:00
- for a fee (I checked in at 10:30 in the morning) and offers you a similar
facility for late check-out – after 11:00.

It’s rather twee and amusing – especially for technocrats – but it’s
reasonably priced, convenient for the airport, totally B-S free and the
“runway view” rooms on the higher floors are pretty damned good. The staff
are very friendly and helpful. It also has the best lounge area – virtually
the whole ground floor – of any hotel I’ve ever used!

I hope this is of interest as an alternative to the Ibis and Etap.

JAL retiring the MD-81 – Farewell tour planned

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Asia, Japan | Posted on 13-08-2010

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JAL (Japan Air Lines) are to retire their MD-81 (DC-9-81) fleet this September after serving the airline since the 1980s.

On 19-20 September the airline will send one of the MD-81 aircraft on a farewell tour of Japan to mark the occasion with the following schedule:

19 September: It will fly from Osaka (KIX) at 8:45 am, arriving at Oki (OKI) at 9:45 am. At Oki passengers will be able to walk around the tarmac to take photos of the aircraft. At 3 pm the airliner will leave Oki for Sapporo (CTS), arriving at 5 pm.

20 September: The aircraft will leave CTS at 7:45 am, arriving at OKI at 9:45 am. Passengers on the special flight will again be able to take photos, plus the aircraft will perform touch-and-go’s on this day. At 4:30 pm the airliner will leave OKI for KIX, arriving at 5:35 pm. Tickets are being sold by JALTours.

Heathrow Runway Alterations from September

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Heathrow, UK | Posted on 09-08-2010

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London Heathrow Airport will have runway and taxiway work taking place from 13 September 2010, and is expected to take six weeks to complete.

During this time, normal daytime operations will be affected. When arrivals are from the west (over London), only the southern runway will be used for arrivals, and the northern runway for departures. They will not switch at 3pm as usual.

Whilst this will no doubt cause a lack of noise respite for those living under the flightpath, it is also something for spotters to note when planning where to spot at Heathrow.

The full BAA news release can be found here