Cathay Pacific A350 Routes

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Asia, Hong Kong | Posted on 09-09-2015



Cathay Pacific’s first Airbus A350-900 has appeared in the production hangar, and it won’t be long till delivery of the type to the airline.  It currently has 22 -900s on order, and 26 of the longer A350-1000s.

Entry into service is expected in February 2016, and the airline has announced the first international routes.

Cathay Pacific A350 Routes

  • Hong Kong to Copenhagen
  • Hong Kong to London Gatwick
  • Hong Kong to Madrid

It is interesting that all are European destinations. Presumably the airline will undertake regional Asian routes for crew familiarisation

As always, keep an eye on our Airbus A350 Routes Page for a list of all the destinations served by different A350 operators.

Comac ARJ21 to enter service in February 2016

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Asia, China, Miscellaneous Spotting | Posted on 04-09-2015


Comac ARJ21

By Peng Chen (Flickr: China ARJ-21) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The long-delayed Comac ARJ21 regional jet is to finally enter service in February 2016, eight years after its first flight.

Chengdu Airlines will be the first operator of the type, taking delivery of two examples later this year. They will undertake pilot training, before entering service on domestic regional flights from its home base. The airline, which is owned by Comac, will eventually take 30 of the smaller ARJ21-700 variants.

To date there are orders for 342 ARJ21-700s from carriers mainly situated in China and the Far East. The larget ARJ21-900 is still on hold, with no orders.

Despite this entry into service of the first two aircraft, Comac does not anticipate beginning the production until later in 2016 when the relevant certification has been received. It has also abandoned plans to have the aircraft certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) after ongoing delays.

The Comac ARJ21 very much resembles the Douglas DC-9 and Boeing 717 in my eyes, and has similarities to the Bombardier CRJ. The ARJ21-700 model can carry up to 90 passengers and has a range of 2,000 miles in the ER version, making it ideal for covering the Chinese regional market.

The two aircraft expected to enter service with Chengdu Airlines are B-010L and B-938L (c/n 105 and 106 respectively). B-1110L (c/n 104) has also been part of the testing process.


Korean Air’s first 747-8i delivered

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Asia, Frankfurt, Germany, South Korea, Spotting News, Western Europe | Posted on 26-08-2015


747-8I KAL #1506-RC051

747-8I KAL HL7630

Korean Air has had its first Boeing 747-8i delivered – the first of ten it has on order of the passenger variant of the latest jumbo jet.

With this delivery, Korean Air becomes the first airline in the world to operate both the passenger and freighter versions of the 747-8. Korean Air currently operates seven 747-8 Freighters.

Korea’s flag carrier currently operates a fleet of 87 Boeing passenger airplanes that includes 737, 747 and 777s. The airline also operates an all-Boeing cargo fleet of 28 747-400, 747-8 and 777 Freighters.

Its new 747-8i’s will fly on the route from Seoul Incheon to Frankfurt from 2 September 2015, going daily from 1 October.

Other routes will be Singapore and San Francisco from November, followed at some stage by London Heathrow, which was announced initially before changing to Frankfurt.

The first aircraft is registered HL7630.

Iran Air Boeing 747SP Schedule

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Asia, China, India, Iran, Malaysia, Middle East | Posted on 21-08-2015


"Iran Air Boeing 747SP Wedelstaedt" by Konstantin von Wedelstaedt - Website: Licensed under GNU Free Documentation License 1.2 via Wikimedia Commons -

(c) Konstantin von Wedelstaedt

Despite planning to retire the type a year ago and operating enthusiast flights, Iran Air still continues to fly the world’s last passenger-carrying Boeing 747SP aircraft.

The stubby ‘Special Performance’ variant is one of the rarer passenger aircraft still flying. So I thought I’d look at the schedules it is operating, in case you want to grab a flight before it’s too late.

0705 1200 Tehran IKA Mumbai Int’l IR810 Tue
0735 1230 Tehran IKA Mumbai Int’l IR810 Fri
1205 1655 Kuala Lumpur Int’l Tehran IKA IR815 Wed
1330 1710 Mumbai Int’l Tehran IKA IR811 Tue
1330 1820 Kuala Lumpur Int’l Tehran IKA IR815 Mon, Sat
1400 1710 Mumbai Int’l Tehran IKA IR811 Fri
1925 0625+1 Tehran IKA Beijing Capital IR800 Wed
2155 0925+1 Tehran IKA Kuala Lumpur Int’l IR814 Tue
2240 0325+1 Beijing Capital Tehran IKA IR801 Thu
2325 1055+1 Tehran IKA Kuala Lumpur Int’l IR814 Fri, Sun

At present the 747SP still appears on some services beyond 25th October, when the winter timetable starts. So it may be flying for a while yet!


ANA Star Wars planes coming to a galaxy near you

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Asia, Japan | Posted on 18-08-2015


ANA Star Wars Planes

ANA All Nippon Airways has released details of yet more Star Wars liveries for its aircraft, which will be appearing in a galaxy – or at least an airport – near you soon!

In an agreement with The Walt Disney Company, which owns the Star Wars franchise, the airline will now be painting three aircraft in total in special schemes to promote the upcoming release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which is due for release in December.

The aircraft chosen for the special Star Wars planes include a Boeing 767-300, a 777-300ER and a 787-9 Dreamliner.

ANA launched the Star Wars Project in April 2015 after signing a five year promotion license contract for the Star Wars brand with The Walt Disney Company (Japan) Ltd. As part of the agreement, the ANA Star Wars planes’ will also display in-flight decorations, such as headrest covers, paper napkins and cups featuring Star Wars characters – more details will be announced at a later date. The partnership also means ANA will be the only airline in the world to offer all six of the currently released Star Wars films as part of its extensive in-flight entertainment options on international routes. This will be the first time that any of the Star Wars movies have been included as part of an in-flight entertainment system.




The three ANA Star Wars planes will fly international and domestic routes. On October 18, the R2-D2™ ANA Jet (787-9) is scheduled to go into service on international routes, initially as flight NH116 between Tokyo and Vancouver, and then fly between Japan and other cities in ANA’s robust international network including the US (Seattle and San Jose), Europe (Munich, Paris and Brussels), Australia (Sydney), China (Beijing), and Indonesia (Jakarta).

In November, the Star Wars™ ANA Jet will fly domestic Japanese routes, and then in March 2016 the BB-8™ ANA Jet (777-300ER) is scheduled to start serving international routes principally between Japan and North America.

You’ll be able to follow the schedules on the special website,

All About AirAsia

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Asia, Australasia, Australia | Posted on 12-08-2015


By Jakkrit Prasertwit [GFDL 1.2 ( or GFDL 1.2 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Jakkrit Prasertwit [GFDL 1.2 or GFDL 1.2], via Wikimedia Commons

AirAsia is a pioneering airline and has grown into one of the largest low cost airlines in Asia.

Its reach covers many countries and a fleet of almost 200 aircraft operates across a variety of different brands under the one banner. We thought we’d take a look at this inspirational airline to help you get to know all about AirAsia.


AirAsia was founded in 1993, but didn’t commence operations until November 1996. It initially operated leased Boeing 737-300 aircraft from its Kuala Lumpur International Airport base to domestic and regional destinations around the Far East, modelling itself on the growing importance of low cost “no frills” carriers which were emerging in the USA and Europe.

The first subsidiaries of the airline emerged in 2004 when Thai AirAsia began operating from Bangkok to various international destinations.

A long haul subsidiary, AirAsia X was also opened in 2007, offering low cost long-haul travel using Airbus A340-300 aircraft, which flew to Australia, France and the United Kingdom.

By M Radzi Desa [GFDL 1.2 ( or GFDL 1.2 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By M Radzi Desa [GFDL 1.2 or GFDL 1.2], via Wikimedia Commons

AirAsia Today

Today AirAsia has transitioned to an all-Airbus A320 fleet after retiring its Boeing 737-300s. At present, there are 188 A320s in the fleet, split across the different brands.

AirAsia placed an order in 2011 for the new Airbus A320neo. The first of 300 on order will arrive in 2016, boosting the fleet and replacing older A320s. It also operates Airbus A330s with its X subsidiaries.


By Mehdi Nazarinia [GFDL 1.2 ( or GFDL 1.2 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Mehdi Nazarinia [GFDL 1.2 or GFDL 1.2], via Wikimedia Commons

AirAsia brands

There are nine affiliated airlines which operate under the AirAsia brand in addition to the parent Malaysian airline. These are:

AirAsia India

Starting operations in June 2014, AirAsia India operates five A320s from two bases – Delhi Indira Gandhi International, and Bengaluru Kempegowda. All of its flights are domestic routes.

AirAsia X

The original long-haul arm still operates despite a few ups and downs. Today its fleet consists of Airbus A330-300s, and it has a number of A330-900neos and A350-900s on order. The latter is due to enter the fleet next year.

Its base is Kuala Lumpur International, with destinations in Australia, South Korea, China, United Arab Emirates, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Saudi Arabia, Japan and Taiwan. It is planned to reinstate services to Paris, London and Honolulu as new aircraft arrive.

Thai AirAsia

The first offshoot from the original AirAsia. Thai AirAsia is based at Bangkok Don Mueang Airport with over 40 A320s in service and more on order. It has a heavy domestic presence within Thailand, but also operates to all neighbouring countries.

Thai AirAsia X

Another long-haul subsidiary, operating two A330-300s from Bangkok Don Mueang to Osaka, Tokyo Narita and Seoul Incheon at present.

AirAsia Zest

Created from Zest Air and Asian Spirit, two low cost airlines, in the Philippines. Its main operating base is Manila Ninoy Aquino, but it is a regular at other main airports in the country as well as at international destinations. The airline works in close cooperation with Philippines AirAsia, also based at Manila. It operates 13 Airbus A320s, with more on order.

Indonesia AirAsia

Formed from Awair in 2005, Indonesia AirAsia is now one of the biggest international carriers in the country, seriously challenging Garuda and Lion Air. It operates 30 A320s, with 30 more on order. This subsidiary suffered the airline’s greatest tragedy in December 2014 when one of its A320s crashed into the sea killing 162 people.

The airline is based at Jakarta, Surabaya and Medan. Its primary destinations are in Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

Indonesia AirAsia X

Two Airbus A330-300s are operated by the spin-off from the main AirAsia X. They are flown from Bali to Australia, Taiwan and Saudi Arabia. This carrier will grow as the long-haul fleet is added to.

Philippines AirAsia

As with AirAsia Zest, Philippines AirAsia is based at Manila Ninoy Aquino and operates 10 A320s, with plans to treble its fleet in the coming years. It primarily operates domestic services on trunk routes in the country.

AirAsia Japan

Originally operated from 2012 until 2013. AirAsia Japan will be re-launched in early 2016 from its Nagoya Chubu Centrair base.

It will operate four A320s to domestic destinations, and to South Korea and Taiwan.


AirAsia Route Map

AirAsia for the spotter

Any spotters visiting airports in the Far East, India and Australasia are likely to see AirAsia aircraft in abundance. Like all large low cost carriers, it excels at making its business work by operating a single aircraft type fleet in large numbers. So for the number crunchers, AirAsia is a good bet, even if you do find modern airliners a little bland.

The AirAsia, you get the added bonus of its different subsidiaries, so registrations and titling do differ from location to location, adding a bit of variety.

You’ve also got the bonus of Airbus A330s operating on the long-haul routes under the ‘X’ brand.

The main hub airports that you’ll see a lot of AirAsia aircraft are:

  • Bangkok Dun Mueang, Thailand
  • Bengaluru, India
  • Delhi Indira Gandhi, India
  • Jakarta Soekarno Hatta, Indonesia
  • Kuala Lumpur International, Malaysia
  • Manila Ninoy Aquino, Philippines

Other popular destinations are Bali, Cebu, Kota Kinabalu, Macau, Penang, Phuket, Seoul Incheon, Singapore Changi, and Taipei Taoyuan



One other plus point for the spotter is the airline’s logojets. Many of its A320s bear full or partial schemes to advertise different companies, sports teams and travel brands.

Here’s a list of current AirAsia logojets and their registration:

9M-AFA – The Apprentice
9M-AFB – Junior Jet
9M-AFC – World’s Best Low Cost Airline
9M-AFD – Allstar
9M-AFE – ASEAN Basketball League
9M-AFG – Expedia
9M-AFI – Malaysian National Football Team
9M-AFL – SkyRider Club
9M-AFM – Hats off to Dato Pahamin
9M-AFP – 1 Malaysia
9M-AFT – mface
9M-AFV – Queens Park Rangers
9M-AFW – AirAsia mobile app
9M-AHD – Tune Insure
9M-AHE – Tune Talk
9M-AHG – ninetology
9M-AHJ – BIG Loyalty Scheme
9M-AHL – Prince Lubricants
9M-AHM – Taylor Swift
9M-AHX – Connecting ASEAN
9M-AQH – 100th Awesome Plane
9M-XXT (A330) – Xcintillating PhoeniX
HS-ABC – Thailand Womens Volleyball
HS-ABG – Thailand Post
HS-ABJ – Carabao Concert
HS-ABK – Thai Fight
HS-ABW – World’s Best Low Cost Airline
HS-ABX – Amazing Thailand
RP-C8974 – Solaire Resort
RP-C8988 – Manny Pacquiao
VT-JRT – The Pioneer Tribute to JRD Tata

To see our Pinterest page of AirAsia logojets, click here:




AirAsia Apprentice

First ATR 72-600 for Myanmar National Airlines

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Asia | Posted on 04-08-2015


Myanmar ATR 72-600

Myanmar National Airlines has taken delivery of its first ATR 72-600 aircraft from the factory in Toulouse.

The airline, which currently operates a fleet of three ATR 72-500s, two ATR 72-200s and one ATR 42-300, had booked an order for six ATR 72-600s in 2014, along with options for six additional aircraft.

Than Tun, Managing Director of the airline, declared: “We are delighted to introduce the newest ATR-600 series aircraft into our fleet and to begin offering its world-class standards of comfort to our passengers. We are upgrading our fleet with an aircraft that is proving to be outstandingly successful, particularly in Asia, and which has shown itself to be the optimal choice both in terms of operational versatility and fuel efficiency. Upgrading to the newest ‘-600s’ came naturally after having successfully operated former ATR versions for years.”

The aircraft is XY-AJY, msn 1267.

10 Airports You Need to Visit

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, Asia, Colombia, Eastern Europe, France, Frankfurt, Germany, North America, North Korea, Portugal, South America, Turkey, UK, USA, Western Europe | Posted on 05-07-2015


The world is full of such a variety of airports and each has its own appeal to spotters. I’ve put together this list of airports which every spotter should try to visit at some time to help enrich their aviation interests and make the most of their hobby.


1. Everett Paine Field

Paine Field Spotting

Home of Boeing’s widebodie production lines and the world’s largest building – currently responsible for producing 747s, 777s, 787s and the occasional 767. Once aircraft have been completed they are taken to the paint assembly building, and then placed outside whilst final preparations are made.

Aircraft undertake testing regularly once complete, so you’ll always see something of interest using the airport’s single main runway.

Aircraft that have been completed are sometimes placed in storage at the airport – seen recently with some early 787s and 747-8s. You may also be lucky to see the first Boeing 727 aircraft, which is preserved at the airport, along with a De Havilland Comet 4 and some other historic aircraft.

Head to the Future of Flight centre for a grandstand view over the airport. Here’s a post about spotting at Paine Field.


2. Pyongyang

Pyongyang Line-Up

It’s not the busiest, and some might be a little sensitive about the way North Korea is run, but purely from an enthusiast’s point of view this is a very interesting place. Air Koryo, the national carrier, still flies classic Russian types such as the Tu-134, Tu-154, Tu-204, IL-62 and IL-18.

Pyongyang airport recently opened its brand new terminal, which looks much more akin to those found in the West. But to be able to experience the aircraft here you’ll need to take part in an organised tour, such as those on offer with Juche Travel Service.


3. London City

London City Airport Morning Ramp

The British capital is served by many airports, but London City is by far one of the world’s more unusual. Built on a former dock at the heart of the city, it makes for a challenging and restricted environment to operate large airliners in. Yet every day aircraft arrive from across Europe, and even New York. Its location among the skyscrapers of London’s financial district means the short runway requires a steep approach angle and only certified aircraft are permitted to operate there.

It’s easy to watch aircraft come and go here from the docks opposite the runway, or under the approach paths at either end.

Here’s a post about London City Behind The Scenes.


4. Los Angeles International


With California’s amazing climate, endless sunshine, and an incredible mix of aircraft, LAX should be on anyone’s list of must-visit airports.

Los Angeles has four runways and nine passenger terminals. Each major US airline has a decent presence here, as well as large airliners from across the globe, and leisure airlines from Mexico, Hawaii and the Caribbean. On the south side of the airport, cargo airliners and biz jets complete the lineup.

Head to Imperial Hill or the In ‘n’ Out Burger restaurant for the best views. Here’s a post about spotting at Los Angeles.


5. Frankfurt Main

Frankfurt Terminal 2 Visitors Terrace

Germany’s busiest airport, and one of the main gateways to Europe. Like LAX, its mix is mouthwatering to the enthusiast, comprising all main European carriers, low-cost airlines, leisure carriers, cargo, regional, and long-haul traffic.

Spotting is not as good here as in days gone by, but the airport still provides two official locations – at Terminal 2 and alongside runway 18 – and there are some other good spots to watch aircraft.


6. Toulouse Blagnac

A350 © Airbus S.A.S 2013 Photo by H. Goussé

Europe’s busiest aircraft manufacturing airport. Most Airbus A319, A320, A330, A340 and A380 aircraft are constructed here, as well as ATR turboprops. Regular airline traffic isn’t much to write home about, but who cares when you’ve got airliners destined for all corners of the globe undergoing completion and flight testing in the southern France sun?

There are various places to watch aircraft around the airport perimeter, and an official viewing deck at the terminal. Plus, you can arrange tours of the Airbus plant, and visit historic aircraft at the on-site museum.


7. Funchal

By Thomas Klein (Own work (own photography)) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Thomas Klein (Own work (own photography)) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

When space is limited, sometimes the only option is to build your airport runway on stilts. That’s exactly what heppend at Funchal, on the Portuguese island of Madeira in the Atlantic Ocean. When demand from leisure airlines grew, the runway was extended out from the cliff-side that it occupies to allow larger aircraft to be handled. The position of this airport also means aircraft take an interesting approach path before landing, often in crosswind conditions.

Spotters can position themselves on the hillside above the runway for some excellent photographs and videos.


8. Phoenix Deer Valley

Phoenix Deer Valley

Unlike other airports on this list, Deer Valley isn’t on the route map of lots of scheduled airlines or a place to see the latest Dreamliners and Airbus A380s. Yet it is one of the busiest airports in the world. In particular, it is actually the busiest airport in the world for biz jet movements, according to recent statistics.

So if you’re looking for something different, or like to log and photograph Citations, Global Expresses and Gulfstreams, this is the place to head to.

The Arizona airport has two runways and is in the north east of the city. You can watch movements from the official observation deck on top of the terminal building, which even pipes in ATC broadcasts.


9. Bogota


Probably the most interesting of South America’s main airports. Bogota, in Colombia, is a hub for Aviana, LAN Colombia, Copa Airlines and VivaColombia. This is great in itself, but the airport is also one of the last bastions for some older jets, like Boeing 727s of AeroSucre and Lineas Aereas Suramericanas, and F-28s and DC-3s of the Colombian Government.

The airport also has a nice collection of preserved aircraft on the military side of the airport.

Spotting is possible inside the terminal, or from the end of the runways if you have a car.


10. Istanbul Ataturk

Istanbul Spotting

Europe’s latest up-and-coming airport thanks mainly to the explosive growth of Turkish Airlines, which is trying to emulate what Middle East carriers are doing in connecting east and west. As such, this main base for the airline (it also operates from nearby Sabiha Gokcen Airport) sees a constant stream of the carrier’s red tails coming and going.

Traffic comprises a good mix of European and long-haul flights, with the vast majority naturally made up of Turkish Airlines and AtlasJet. The draw for enthusiasts is the growing fleet of the national airline, and the opportunity for photography in the warm climate. A good mix of cargo carriers can also be seen.

There are a number of places to spot from round the perimeter, as well as the excellent FlyInn shopping mall which is great for viewing and photographing aircraft from the cafe balcony. There is also a nice aviation museum on the southern boundary.


World Airports Spotting Guides

World Airports Spotting Guide

My upcoming book, World Airports Spotting Guides covers over 300 of the world’s airports, including details on what you can see there, and where to spot from. Many of the guides also include the best spotting hotels and aviation museum attractions. Find out more and pre-order the book here:

First A350 delivered to Vietnam Airlines

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Asia, Vietnam | Posted on 30-06-2015



Today the first Airbus A350XWB for Vietnam Airlines was delivered to the carrier from the manufacturer’s Toulouse plant.

The aircraft is on lease from AerCap, and is registered VN-A886.

Today’s milestone delivery makes Vietnam Airlines the world’s second A350 XWB operator after the jetliner’s introduction in January by launch customer Qatar Airways.

The airline will initially operate their A350s on crew familiarisation flights between Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi from 5th July, before it commences international duties to Paris and Seoul after the summer.



Remember to check out our Airbus A350 Routes Page for up-to-date information on who flies the aircraft and on which routes.

Another Dreamliner donated to a museum

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Asia, Japan, North America, Spotting News, USA | Posted on 25-06-2015


Boeing has donated another of its prototype 787 Dreamliner aircraft to a museum.

This time the first prototype to fly, ZA001 / N787BA, has been sent to Japan for preservation!

The aircraft flew from Seattle to Nagoya Chubu Airport on 22nd June, where it will be put on display and made accessible to the public. Fittingly two of the crew members who flew this aircraft on the 787s maiden flight in 2009 were the ones to ferry it to Japan.

Japan had a lot of involvement in the 787 programme, helping to fund development. Its two main carriers, ANA and Japan Air Lines, were also the first to operate the type commercially.

Two other Dreamliners were recently donated to museums, with ZA002 / N787EX sent to the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, AZ, and ZA003 / N787BX retired at the Museum of Flight in Seattle.