Two Boeing 747-400s heading to museums. It’s really that old!

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Airport News, Australasia, Australia, North America, Spotting News, USA | Posted on 31-01-2015

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The first Boeing 747-400 flew in February 1989 – that’s almost 26 years ago!

Although it remained in production until 2009, the early airframes in this penultimate model in the ‘jumbo jet’ line are now starting to look a little long in the tooth. Many have already been retired, scrapped, put in long-term storage, or converted to freighters as passenger carriers look to modern twin-engine long haul replacements.

Today I heard of two Boeing 747-400 examples that are earmarked for preservation in museums. This is incredible news for aircraft enthusiasts, but very scary when I remember watching footage of the first flight and it doesn’t seem that long ago!

Photo: Paul Spijkers

Photo: Paul Spijkers

First off, Qantas is to donate VH-OJA – their first 747-400, and the record-holder for the world’s longest ever commercial non-stop flight. Named the City of Canberra, the aircraft flew non-stop from London to Sydney in August 1989 in 20 hours and 9 minutes.

VH-OJA is to be donated to the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) at Illawara Regional Airport, only ten minutes flying time from Sydney for public display – something that will be a sight to behold at the small regional airport. The official handover will take place on 15th March, although the positioning flight may take place earlier.

Secondly, Delta Air Lines is rumoured to have earmarked the first ever Boeing 747-400, N661US, to be preserved at the Delta Flight Museum at Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport later this year once its current flying commitments are finished.

Photo: Paul Spijkers

Photo: Paul Spijkers

This particular aircraft undertook the initial flight testing during certification for the new type in 1989, prior to entering service with Northwest Airlines. It has flown in Delta colours since the airlines merged in 2008.

The Delta Flight Museum is already home to a number of retired types flown by the airline and Northwest, including a Boeing 757-200, 767-200, Douglas DC-9, part of a L1011 TriStar, and a Douglas DC-3.

Transavia gets a new look

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, France, Miscellaneous Spotting, Netherlands, Spotting News, Western Europe | Posted on 30-01-2015

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Transavia new livery

Transavia Airlines and Transavia France have introduced a new branding and colour scheme across the company, including its aircraft livery.

It only seems a shot time since their last rebrand, but apparently it’s been ten years!

The first aircraft to wear the new, brighter look is Boeing 737-700 PH-XRX and is already flying.

Transavia new scheme

The new branding was completed by Studio Dumbar, and you can see more examples of the new look on their website. Most notably, the airline is no longer called transavia.com. It’s apparently old news to do that now.

What do you think of the new scheme? Have you see it in real life yet?

 

 

Airbus A350 routes page

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Miscellaneous Spotting | Posted on 21-01-2015

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A350 Routes Page

A new resource we’ve recently added to the site is a list of planned Airbus A350 XWB routes that will be operated by the many different airlines who have ordered it.

The type is now in service with Qatar Airways, and will soon start flying with airlines such as Finnair and Vietnam Airlines.

Like our extremely popular Boeing 787 routes page, our new page will constantly evolve as we hear about new planned routes, training routes, and new airlines taking delivery of the type. It will hopefully be a really useful resource for those planning to see this new aircraft in service, or even to plan a route and fly on it!

You can find the Airbus A350 routes page here: www.airportspotting.com/airbus-a350-routes

SATA rebranding as competition heats up in Azores

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Airport News, North America, Portugal, Western Europe | Posted on 20-01-2015

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SATA A320

SATA International will be rebranded as Azores Airlines this year as it begins taking steps to secure its business as the aviation scene in the island chain heats up.

We reported last month that Ryanair is to set up a base in Ponta Delgada from April 1st, bringing low-cost flights to the Portuguese mainland and further afield for the first time. easyJet is also set to enter the Azores market.

SATA, which offers intra-island services as well as links to Portugal, Europe and North America, will begin a five year scheme to reduce its fleet size and refocus its core business to ensure it remains profitable in the face of increasing competition. Part of this will see the airline focus more on flights to the Canary Islands, Cape Verde islands, Madeira through its SATA Air Acores subsidiary, and to North America.

In 2016 the airline will also establish SATA Serviços, a ground handling company, to be based at the islands’ airports and make money from the new low-cost airlines’ flights.

Part of the airline’s woes have also come from the US Air Force’s decision to remove 500 troops from the joint civil-military airport at Lajes in the Azores. The airline relied upon the presence of the air base here and it will be felt in the local economy once they have gone.

KLM to arrive in Ireland

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Airport News, Ireland, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 06-01-2015

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KLM Fokker 70 at Durham Tees Valley

KLM is to begin its first flights to Ireland in May when it commences a new Belfast service.

George Best Belfast City Airport is the only airport in the UK or Ireland included in expansion plans announced today by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines who will commence a daily service to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport from May 2015 providing greater access to global destinations through KLM’s extensive network.

Belfast City Airport’s Commercial and Marketing Director, Katy Best, said: “Attracting an airline such as KLM to Northern Ireland, is a major win for the airport, tourism within the region and local businesses who will benefit from KLM’s worldwide network.”

KLM ANNOUNCES ARRIVAL TO NORTHERN IRELAND

The airport, situated in Belfast’s docklands, competes against the larger Belfast International Airport 18 miles to the west. Attracting an airline such as KLM is a majour coup and will no doubt attract a lot of business passenger to the city, and a lot of outbound travellers onto KLM’s worldwide network.

US Airways Boeing 767-200 retiring in February

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, North America, Spotting News, USA | Posted on 05-01-2015

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USAirways767

US Airways is set to retire its Boeing 767-200 fleet in February, marking the end of passenger operations with the type in the USA.

The final flight is currently scheduled as US1798 from Charlotte to Philadelphia and return on 11th February.

Other flights operating with the type that day, according to Airline Route, include:

  • Charlotte-Cancun-Charlotte
  • Charlotte-Orlando-Charlotte
  • Charlotte-St Thomas-Charlotte

These aircraft have a long heritage, with some of the fleet being operated by Piedmont Airlines in the 1980s before its merger with USAir.

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

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MostPopular2014

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.

 

BrazilThemeWeek

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.

 

Norwegian planning South America and Caribbean routes

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Airport News, Caribbean, South America, Spain, Western Europe | Posted on 23-12-2014

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Norwegian 737-800

Norwegian’s relentless push into new bases and new markets could take an even bigger step next year as it plans a possible new base which would give low-cost access to South America and the Caribbean.

The airline is looking at opening a new base at Las Palmas in the Canary Islands, which puts its Boeing 737s – and especially the future 737MAX fleet – in easy reach of destinations such as Brazil and the various holiday islands of the Caribbean.

Norwegian is currently suffering set backs in its plans to establish an Irish subsidiary which would offer low-cost flights to America from the island with its Boeing 787 Dreamliners. However, given that it already operates a number of Spanish bases and would bring about significant employment and income to the country with this new venture, it seems more likely to succeed should it go ahead.

This could open up a lot of opportunities for cheap, one-stop flights to destinations which are usually quite expensive to get to, and offers an interesting alternative to the full service airlines flying the routes.

Iberia to launch 13 new routes in 2015

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Airport News, Eastern Europe, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Spain, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 11-12-2014

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Iberia A321

Iberia and its partner Iberia Express will launch 13 new routes in the summer 2015 season.

The airlines will operate non-stop flights from Madrid to Florence, Naples, Palermo, Catania and Verona in Italy, Manchester and Edinburgh in the UK, Hamburg in Germany, Funchal in Madeira, Portugal, and Budapest in Hungary.

They will also launch non-stop flights from Asturias to Tenerife in the Canary Islands, from Madrid to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris and from Madrid to London Gatwick.

In addition the airlines will add 65 weekly flights to 24 existing Spanish, European and long-haul routes

Luis Gallego, Iberia’s Chairman and CEO, commented that “The introduction of additional routes and frequencies in such a competitive short- and medium-haul market is an indication of the effectiveness of our cost-cutting measures, and also of the quality of the new product and services that we offer our customers.”

The new routes and additional frequencies follow the eight destinations launched by Iberia in 2014 (Montevideo, Santo Domingo, Amsterdam, Athens, Hanover, Istanbul, Stockholm and Stuttgart), the capacity increase to Panama City and Santiago in Chile, as well as the summer destinations operated by the airline (St. Petersburg, Ibiza, Dubrovnik and Zagreb)

Ryanair adding Azores base

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Airport News, Portugal, Western Europe | Posted on 09-12-2014

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Ryanair Marrakech

Ryanair is stretching out into the Atlantic with the announcement of a new base at Ponta Delgada in the Azores.

The base will open on 1 April 2015 (no fool!), with one Boeing  737-800 based initially.

The first routes will be to Lisbon and Porto in mainland Portgual, along with a 1x weekly flight to London Stansted.

It remains to be seen whether this is some stepping stone across the Atlantic or into Africa.