St. Helena Airport Takes Shape

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Africa, Airport News, Miscellaneous Spotting | Posted on 24-07-2015



The brand new international airport on the island of St. Helena in the south Atlantic Ocean is finally taking shape almost four years since the contract was signed to herald its development.

The British Overseas Territory – one of the most remote islands on earth – has always relied on the sea for communication and transport to the outside world. But with the regular passenger-carrying vessel, the RMS St. Helena, due to be retired next year, the need for an airport became a priority.

St. Helena Airport is now taking shape, with the final concrete poured onto the runway and work now beginning on lighting, navaids and other infrastructure.

Following this, calibration work will be carried out.

It is expected that St. Helena Airport will see its first scheduled flights in Easter 2016. Carriers confirmed so far are Comair, with a Boeing 737 link to Johannesburg, and Atlantic Star Airlines, which is a new carrier planning to operate a Boeing 757 to the island from the UK.StHelenaAirport

Recently the airport unveiled its new logo, and announced that its official IATA identification code would be HLE, and ICAO code FHSH.

The single runway is 1,950m long and has necessitated the infill of a gorge in order to provide enough flat space for its construction. This length will allow Airbus A320 and Boeing 737/757 aircraft, plus the military C-130 Hercules to fly in. But it would preclude any Category D aircraft, such as the Boeing 767.


Tunisair’s first Airbus A330 delivered

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Africa, Airline News, Tunisia | Posted on 12-06-2015



Tunisair has taken delivery of its first Airbus A330-200 airliner.

Named “Tunis”, the wide-body aircraft flew out from Toulouse and landed at Tunis-Carthage Airport in the evening, thus joining the airline’s existing fleet of Airbus aircraft comprising four A319s and seventeen A320s.

“I am extremely happy to welcome the A330-200 to our fleet, its unique profitability and unrivalled operating costs will allow us to develop our operations and win new market shares, thus supporting our country’s growth in the areas of tourism and economic development,” said Sara Rejeb, President and Chief Operating Officer of Tunisair, during this ceremony held at the Airbus Delivery Centre in Toulouse.

The aircraft is registered TF-IFM.

Kenya Airways phasing out Boeing 777s

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Africa, Airline News, Kenya | Posted on 28-04-2015


By Andre Wadman [GFDL 1.2 ( or GFDL 1.2 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Andre Wadman [GFDL 1.2 or GFDL 1.2], via Wikimedia Commons

Kenya Airways will phase out its Boeing 777 fleet by the end of the year, according to this link.

The airline’s 777-200ERs will be retired next month, following the return Nairobi-Dubai-Nairobi flight on 18 May.

Then, on 26 September the 777-300ER fleet will be retired following the Nairobi-London Heathrow-Nairobi flight that day.

Kenya Airways has been increasing its Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet, which are increasingly taking over routes formerly flown by he 767s and 777s operated by the airline.

RwandAir selects A330

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Africa, Airline News, Miscellaneous Spotting | Posted on 24-03-2015



RwandAir has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Airbus to order two A330-200 aircraft. These will be the airline’s first wide-body jets, although it is expected to take delivery of Boeing 787s.

“As we look to introduce wide body aircraft for the first time into our fleet, with its proven economics, reliability and passenger comfort, we have found the A330 to perfectly support our plans to expand into Europe and Asia, to enhance our regional presence, to open up new routes and to grow our market share,’’ said John Mirenge, Chief Executive Officer of RwandAir.

RwandAir’s A330s will be delivered in the second half of 2016 and will be equipped with Rolls Royce Trent 772B engines.

Rwanda’s flagship carrier will deploy the new A330 aircraft on medium and long haul routes from their Kigali home base to long-haul destinations throughout Europe, the Middle-East and Asia.

Boeing finding homes for ‘terrible teen’ 787s

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Africa, Airline News, Asia, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Morocco, North America, USA | Posted on 03-03-2015


Ethiopian 787 (c) Konstantin von Wedelstaedt

Boeing is making progress on finding homes for the early Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft which have been sat in storage at its Everett Paine Field manufacturing site since the early days of the aircraft.

These particular aircraft were built shortly after the prototypes began flying, with Boeing seeking to catch up on the delays it had incurred. The aircraft were completed, and most had the basic liveries of the airlines who had ordered them applied. But then they didn’t go anywhere.

When I visited Paine Field in early 2012 there were a number of these aircraft scattered around, painted in the colours of Royal Air Maroc, ANA All Nippon Airways, Air India and others.

Since these aircraft were among the first 20 built (hence the nickname ‘terrible teens’) they also incurred vital modifications which were necessary as a result of testing on the prototypes and first delivery aircraft. Notably, there were problems with electrical fires and the strength of the wing assemblies.

All future Dreamliners were built with fixes for these problems, but for the terrible teens a process of modifications took place to make them airworthy; this in turn added extra weight to the airframe and they incurred a range penalty of around 1,000 miles.

Naturally the planned operators of these aircraft demanded newer airframes, leaving the early examples looking for a new home.

Terrible Teen 787s at Paine Field

Terrible Teen 787s at Paine Field

But now Boeing seems set to announce where they’ll be heading. Since the backlog for orders is so great, taking a terrible teen will be a way to jump the queue for any airline – especially those who don’t mind the range restrictions so much, and would prefer to pay a reduced price tag, which presumably is the case for the unwanted aircraft.

Last week it was confirmed that Air Austral would be taking two of the aircraft, to operate from Reunion Island.

Now it looks like Ethiopian Airlines will take up to eight examples.

Garuda Indonesia and Malaysia Airlines have been approached to take some of the jets, according to ch-aviation, and it seems likely Rwandair will take two of the Royal Air Maroc candidates.


KLM’s Boeing 787 routes

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Abu Dhabi, Africa, Airline News, Asia, Bahrain, China, Ecuador, Egypt, Middle East, Netherlands, South America, Western Europe | Posted on 12-02-2015


KLM 787-9

KLM has added some more route details for its upcoming Boeing 787 fleet, with six initial destinations.

The airline will take the stretched 787-9 model, with the first flights due to commence in October.

The routes KLM will initially fly with its Boeing 787s are:

  • Amsterdam – Abu Dhabi – Bahrain – Starts 25th October
  • Amsterdam – Cairo – Starts 30th November
  • Amsterdam – Quito – Guayaquil – Amsterdam – Starts 2nd December
  • Amsterdam – Xiamen – Starts 3rd December


I’m looking forward to seeing the plane in the smart blue colour scheme of KLM, and it will be delivered in the updated scheme which is currently being rolled out across the existing fleet.

Keep up to date with KLM and all other airlines’ Boeing 787 routes on our dedicated page here.

2014’s most popular Airport Spotting posts

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Africa, Airline News, Airport News, Asia, Australasia, Australia, Eastern Europe, Germany, Ghana, Heathrow, India, Indonesia, Miscellaneous Spotting, Spotting News, Turkey, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 27-12-2014



With 2014 coming to an end and lots to look forward to next year, I wanted to revisit some of our most popular articles from the past year.

These have all had the most views, shares and comments.

What has been your aviation or spotting highlight of 2014? Leave a comment below!



Spotting News

Jakarta Airport FM7 Spotting Hotel
This new spotting hotel was a welcome addition to one of the most interesting airports for spotters to visit.

Guide to aviation and spotting in India
Spotting is notoriously difficult and misunderstood in India, so I put together this guide on what to expect and where to spot in this huge country.

Sydney to close observation deck
Sad new for spotters this year when Sydney’s International Terminal observation deck closed. But all was not lost.

Heathrow opens new viewing area
Few saw this coming – Heathrow opening an official viewing area again! But there was a catch…

ex-Ghana DC-10 turned into a restaurant
A former Ghana Airways Douglas DC-10 has been converted into a restaurant next to the main international airport.

BLOC Hotel Gatwick – Spotting Hotel Review
London’s second busiest airport got a new spotting hotel. I visited this summer and reported here on the excellent views and opportunities.

9 top spotting airports to reach by budget airline
This little guide offers some inspiration on the major international airports that are great to spot at, and also easily reached by budget airlines, helping keep the cost down.



Airline and Aircraft News

SunExpress expand with up to 50 Boeing 737 order
A large order for aircraft from the joint German/Turkish leisure airline SunExpress.

Farnborough Air Show Orders Summary
This year’s Farnborough Air Show brought an unprecedented number of aircraft orders from around the world. We put a summary together here.

Brazil World Cup Special Liveries
This year’s Football World Cup in Brazil brought a number of special airline liveries. See them here!

McDonnell Douglas MD-11 Farewell
The final passenger MD-11 flights took place in 2014. In this farewell piece we look at the history or the aircraft and where you can still see them flying today.


Lufthansa launching low-cost long-haul subsidiary

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Africa, Airline News, Asia, Germany, North America, USA, Western Europe | Posted on 05-12-2014



A new subsidiary will be launched by Lufthansa which will operate long-haul flights at low-cost prices.

The carrier will operate seven of Airbus A330-300s from its base at Cologne/Bonn Airport.

A name has not yet been announced for the carrier, nor a final list of routes. However, it is anticipated that it will fly to destinations in Florida, southern Africa and around the Indian Ocean.

The operation is part of Lufthansa’s plans for a “new Eurowings”, which is being reorganised. The Air Operator’s Certificate of SunExpress will be used for the long-haul carrier, along with crews trained by the Turkish operator (which is jointly owned by Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines).


FlySafair opening Johannesburg base

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Africa, Airline News, Airport News, South Africa | Posted on 06-11-2014


FlySafair 737

FlySafair has announced it will open a new base at Johannesburg OR Tambo Airport from 3rd December.

The base, the airline’s second (after Cape Town) will initially offer flights to George and Port Elizabeth using Boeing 737-400 aircraft.

“Our intention has always been to grow our schedule of operations and it makes most sense for us to open a second base and connect all of our current destinations, therefore offering flights from Johannesburg as well as from Cape Town. Further, we have had overwhelming feedback from our passengers to introduce these routes, we have listened to their suggestions and we have great pleasure in being able to now offer these routes,” explains Lorna Terblanche, Vice President of Passenger Services for FlySafair.

Air Leisure to revive Airbus A340-200s in Egypt

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Africa, Airline News, Asia, Egypt, Spotting News | Posted on 27-10-2014


By Paul Spijkers [GFDL ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Paul Spijkers [GFDL ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

A new leisure carrier in Egypt, named (suitably) Air Leisure, is planning to lease a number of the retired Airbus A340-200s from EgyptAir (although one recently returned to flying for the national carrier).

The wide-body type is the original model of A340 and is now pretty rare, with Aerolineas Argentinas retiring theirs, and a sole example still flying sporadically in Venezuela.

Air Leisure plans to use the aircraft on flights from regional airports such as Aswan, Hurghada and Luxor to destinations in the Far East.

At present Air Leisure operates a single McDonnell Douglas MD-83 aircraft. No date has been set for the launch of A340 flights yet.