It’s Heathrow! UK Airports Commission publishes recommendation

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport News, Heathrow, Miscellaneous Spotting, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 01-07-2015

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Heathrow R3 south west option

The UK Airports Commission, led by Sir Howard Davies, has given its recommendation that Heathrow be the London airport that gets an extra runway, it has been announced.

The Commission was given the task in 2012 of settling the decades-long argument over where extra capacity should be considered in the south east of England. The two primary airports in the region – Gatwick and Heathrow – are both close to capacity, with Gatwick being the busiest single-runway airport in the world.

However, Heathrow is the busiest hub in the country and has the most need for a new runway (its third), according to the report. It said that, whilst Gatwick’s proposal was plausible, not expanding Heathrow would put the UK at risk of losing out to continental Europe.

Airports at Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Paris Charles de Gaulle are already way ahead in runway capacity and are attracting growth from airlines.

Whilst this is only the recommendation, the government will make a decision in 2016 on any expansion.

Davies said: “Heathrow … provides the greatest benefits for business passengers, freight operators and the broader economy,” adding “Further delay will be increasingly costly and will be seen nationally and internationally as a sign that the UK is unwilling or unable to take the steps needed to maintain its position as a well-connected, open trading economy,”

Heathrow has estimated that building could start in 2020 and the new runway would be ready in 2025, but that could be held up by the government’s decision and tough planning laws.

Frankfurt Terminal 2 Visitors Terrace Reopens

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport News, Frankfurt, Germany, Spotting News, Western Europe | Posted on 05-04-2015

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Frankfurt Terminal 2 Visitors Terrace

After a length period of closure and renovation, the visitors terrace on Frankfurt’s Terminal 2 will reopen this month.

The new terrace has a new floor, and also now has a glazed frontage and protective overhang which means photography is not going to be as good as before.

The other big change is that you no longer need to have your bags screened before entering the visitors terrace, which is as a result of the new protective glass and overhang.

Work is still ongoing to improve more floor area, and also to install seating. But for spotters, one of the more useful areas will now be back in action.

Frankfurt Terminal 2 Visitors Terrace is open daily 10am to 6pm (7pm on weekends and public holidays). It is accessed upstairs in the food court area.

  • Adults €3
  • Family (5 people) €12
  • Under 4’s and disabled people FREE

For more information see http://www.frankfurt-airport.com/content/frankfurt_airport/en/services/visitors-terrace.html

Marana Pinal Airpark opens to visitors

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport News, Airport Spotting Guide, North America, Spotting News, USA | Posted on 29-03-2015

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Marana Pinal Airpark

There are a number of storage airports in the western United States known to aviation enthusiasts, with row upon row of retired and stored airliners parked up awaiting their fate. Largest among these are Mojave, Victorville, and Marana Pinal Airpark.

The latter, located to the north of Tucson in Arizona, is notoriously difficult to get close to for the enthusiast, with guards manning the entrance, which in itself is a long way from any views of aircraft.

In fact, the standard way for an enthusiast to see airliners parked at Marana is to hire a private aircraft and pilot to fly them from Tucson to Marana, performing a number of low approaches, or a landing and slow taxi for takeoff, snapping photographs frantically in the hope of catching everything parked there, and preferably the registrations. Then a period of research would begin to work out exactly what was seen.

However, times are hard for Marana. It urgently needs to repair its runway, and to find new income streams to keep it in business. As a result it is looking at ways to attract more people to the site, and one of the first changes has been the removal of the guard posts blocking the entrance to the former military airport.

Jim Petty is the airport’s economic development director and knows exactly the draw that Marana has on enthusiasts and the curious public who have a fascination with the huge hulks of metal glinting in the sun, some sporting airline liveries of yesteryear, whilst others appear to be factory fresh. For most enthusiasts, storage airports have been a place to catch up with missed aircraft, sometimes classic old jets rarely seen in active service anymore. However, places like Marana offer a good mix, with some aircraft temporarily stored straight from the factory as airlines face economic problems or leasing companies find it difficult to place them.

Other aircraft still have a lot of life in them, but come to Marana to await a new customer.

Whilst enthusiasts will not be given free reign of the airport under its new relaxed rules, Petty has begun offering tours of Pinal Airpark in an SUV, stopping off to take in the different areas of parked airliners, and to watch a variety of different aircraft that still use the active airport.

Marana Map

Marana’s former locked-down security stance came from its long-standing involvement with the CIA, acting as a staging post for secret operations which were closely guarded from the public eye. It was also a military training post. However, Marana is officially listed as a general aviation airfield, and as such should be accessible to the general public. And so it now is.

Jim Petty may live to regret news of this opening of Marana for tours becoming public, as enthusiasts are sure to be planning trips already. But nevertheless, this is great news and I’m sure will be very much appreciated. I will certainly be taking the opportunity if I am in the area!

Free tours are by appointment only and subject to availability. Call Jim Petty, 520-866-6545.

Maribor Airport flying passengers again

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Airport News, Eastern Europe, Slovenia, Spotting News | Posted on 26-03-2015

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Adria CRJ

Maribor Airport is to gain passenger services again.

The small Slovenian airport in the east of the country has a single runway and small, modern terminal, and is mainly used as a pilot training airfield.

In the past the airport was briefly served by Ryanair for a few months, and even further back (before the break up of Yugoslavia), it was on the network of Jat Airways.

Now, Maribor is to gain a new scheduled service to London Southend from national carrier Adria Airways, operated by a mixture of CRJ and Airbus A319 aircraft.

The airport will also see some charter flights this summer to Greece and Turkey, operated by Aegean Airlines and Freebird respectively.

MariborObservation

Interestingly the airport now boasts a ‘Bar and Observation Deck’ within its terminal, which presumably offers views across the ramp and runway. If you’ve visited, please leave a comment below telling us what the views are like!

For those who hunt stored and preserved airliners, Maribor has a McDonnell Douglas MD-82, S5-ACC, preserved on the opposite side of the runway to the terminal. It is occasionally open for visits by school groups.

Emirates bolsters US network with Orlando and Seattle additions

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Airport News, Dubai, Middle East, North America, USA | Posted on 25-03-2015

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Emirates 777

Emirates is to increase its coverage of the United States with two new daily flights from Dubai.

For the first time, a direct link from the Middle East to Orlando International will be established when Emirates begins a daily Boeing 777-200LR service from 1st September 2015.

“This is a landmark new route for Orlando that for the first time offers our customers non-stop service to the high-growth Middle East region with convenient connections to India, China, Africa, and Southeast Asia,” said Phil Brown, Executive Director of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority.

Meanwhile, from 1st July Emirates will provide a second daily flight from Dubai to Seattle/Tacoma, again operated by Boeing 777-200LR aircraft and adding significant long-haul passenger and cargo capacity to the airport.

Castellon “ghost airport” gains Ryanair routes

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Airport News, Spain, Western Europe | Posted on 12-03-2015

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Castellon Airport

One of Spain’s infamous “ghost airports”, built amid a period of wasteful spending by the Spanish government, is to gain its first commercial airline service.

Castellon Costa Azahar Airport in the east of Spain, situated to the north of Valencia, was built for €150 million despite having no formal offers from airlines.

Ryanair_B737-800_EI-DYC

Now, Ryanair has committed to starting 3x weekly flights to London Stansted and 2x weekly flights to Bristol, presumably to test its potential. The flights will commence in September 2015.

Castellon Airport has a single runway and small terminal building. For spotters, although I haven’t visited, it looks like roads passing either end of the runway offer opportunities for watching aircraft arrivals and departures. But I don’t think it’s worth the visit just yet!

Kelowna Flightcraft rebranding and shifting focus

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Airport News, Belgium, Canada, North America, Western Europe | Posted on 12-03-2015

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Kelowna Flightcraft

Canada’s specialist cargo operator Kelowna Flightcraft is rebranding in a bid to reestablish itself following the loss of a major contract.

The airline, which flies Boeing 727, Convair 580 and Douglas DC-10 freighters, will now be known as KF Cargo. It will also relocate one of its bases to Toronto Pearson International Airport from Hamilton.

Its aircraft will now be seen travelling to Europe more often, with a 4x weekly DC-10 flight to Brussels National starting on 17 May.

It will also fly from Vancouver to both Anchorage, AK, and Calgary, as well as between Toronto and Halifax, from July.

“We’ve lost our single source of revenue and cargo, and now the majority of the customers we want to fly for are based in Toronto,” Flightcraft spokesman Grant Stevens told Canada’s Spectator magazine. “Now we’re trying to break into a new market, so we have to be in Toronto.”

“There is a lot of cargo from Europe, Africa and South America destined for Canada, but we are concentrating on the EU market through Brussels right now. The rest we’ll worry about later,” Bryan Akerstream, Director of Business Development, said.

(Source: CH-Aviation)

Dusseldorf railway station spotting area closed

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport News, Airport Spotting Guide, Germany, Spotting News, Western Europe | Posted on 08-03-2015

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By Konstantin von Wedelstaedt [GFDL 1.2 (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html) or GFDL 1.2 (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Konstantin von Wedelstaedt [GFDL 1.2 or GFDL 1.2], via Wikimedia Commons

Unfortunately one of the two official spotting locations at Dusseldorf Airport has been closed.

The railway station, linked to the national and local rail network, as well as to the terminal via a monorail, featured an open air viewing area which overlooked the ends of runways 23L and 23R, as well as the taxiways linking them. As such it was a great place for photographing airliners both on the ground and in the air.

But sadly the viewing area is now closed, and it is reportedly a permanent closure.

A.Savin [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or FAL], via Wikimedia Commons

A.Savin [CC BY-SA 3.0 or FAL], via Wikimedia Commons

The other official viewing area, atop the terminal building, remains open. It is on top of concourse B, and reached via the third floor. There is a small entrance fee.

Opening times are now 10am-7pm year-round (no early summer opening now)

CSA to open Stuttgart focus city

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Airport News, Czech Republic, Eastern Europe, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 26-02-2015

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CSA A320

CSA Czech Airlines is slowly emerging from its self-imposed retreat by announcing more expansion and route updates.

Earlier this month the airline announced its return to the UK with a new twice-weekly link to Liverpool from Prague starting on 4th June.

Now, it has announced the inauguration of a focus city at Stuttgart Airport which will commence in May.

A 3x weekly ATR42-500 route from Prague to Stuttgart had already been announced, starting 26th May. But now, on the same day, the airline has said it will start flights from Stuttgart to Bologna, Geneva and Marseilles (via Geneva). All routes will use the ATR42 aircraft.

New Toulouse aviation museum opens its doors

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport News, France, Miscellaneous Spotting, Western Europe | Posted on 18-02-2015

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Aeroscopia_museum_aircraft_display_1

A new attraction for aircraft enthusiasts visiting Toulouse has now opened.

The Aeroscopia museum was developed with the support of Airbus, and is situated alongside the manufacturer’s huge assembly lines – an aviation attraction in their own right!

Attractions at the museum houses about 27 historic aircraft, including:

  • The first Airbus A300B2 prototype (F-WUAB)
  • An Airbus Skyling Super Guppy (2/F-BPPA)
  • Sud Caravelle 12 (F-BTOE)
  • BAC/Aerospatiale Concorde 201 (F-WTSB)
  • BAC/Aerospatiale Concorde 209 (F-BVFC)
  • Plus various light, executive and military aircraft of historic value.

Aeroscopia_museum_aircraft_display_4

Many of these aircraft featured in a previous aviation museum at Toulouse Airport, but under the new development it is arranged in a much better way. A new hangar-like structure houses many of the aircraft, whilst others are still displayed outside. There is also an aircraft restoration workshop which you can visit, and a gift shop full of aviation goodies.

Aeroscopia is open daily from 9.30am to 6pm.

You can find out more on the Aeroscopia website.