Qantas Retro Roo II takes flight

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Australasia, Australia, Spotting News | Posted on 17-11-2015



Qantas has revealed its new Retro Roo II aircraft, which harks back to its classic early 1960s livery.

Boeing 737-800 VH-VXQ, which was painted in Townsville, wears the livery to celebrate the airline’s 95th anniversary.


The Retro Roo livery originally appeared on the airline’s first Boeing 707 jetliners from 1959-1961. The 707 represented a step-change in aviation and Qantas was the first carrier outside the United States to operate the jet. In 1959, Qantas used it to become the first airline to operate regular passenger jet services across the Pacific Ocean, connecting Sydney and San Francisco.
Qantas was also the first airline to offer a round-the-world jet service with the 707. The flying time was 70 hours compared to 127 hours with the Super Constellation aircraft that the 707 replaced. Today a Qantas flight from Sydney to London stops just once, in Dubai, and takes 21 flying hours.

Welcoming the freshly-painted Qantas retro jet into a hangar with more than 300 employees, Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce described the vintage livery as a flying tribute to the airline’s history of innovation.

“As we celebrate our 95th birthday today, I hope this livery inspires a sense of pride in what our national airline has achieved during all those years of taking Australians around the world and bringing them safely home again,” said Mr Joyce.

“A large part of the national pride people feel towards the flying kangaroo comes from the fact it has been responsible for so many innovations in global aviation.”

First Jetstar Q300 arrives

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Australasia, Australia, New Zealand | Posted on 27-08-2015




Jetstar Airways now has its first DHC-8 Q300 turboprop.

VH-TQM has been transferred from QantasLink to operate domestic services within New Zealand, and is painted in the full livery of the low cost airline.

The exact routes have not yet been announced, but eventually there will be five in the fleet and are operated by Eastern Australia Airlines on behalf of Jetstar.


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

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


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.

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.


Top 8 beach spotting locations

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, Asia, Australasia, Australia, Caribbean, Cyprus, Eastern Europe, France, North America, Sint Maarten, Spain, Thailand, USA, Western Europe | Posted on 28-11-2014


Many of the most enjoyable spotting trips are when you can relax in the sun or take photos in a stunning locations. A lot of the world’s airports and runways back onto beaches, which turn out to be great spotting locations.

All of the locations listed here are accessible, public places.


1. Phuket, Thailand

By Andy Mitchell (Flickr: Transaero Airlines B747-300SR VP-BGW) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Andy Mitchell (Flickr: Transaero Airlines B747-300SR VP-BGW) [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Thailand’s holiday island is popular with many airlines arriving from near and far, including both domestic and long-haul airliners. Probably the best location to spot at the airport is Nai Yang Beach running along the western side of the airport, which is accessed by walking around 15 minutes from the road.

Any aircraft approaching runway 09 can be easily photographed, and by finding an area of high ground you can also see over the perimeter fence and photograph aircraft on the ground easily.


2. Sydney, Australia

By Advanstra (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Advanstra (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

One of the best spots for photography and plane spotting at Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport is The Beach off General Holmes Drive, at the east side of the airport.

You can spot here from both the car park and the beach itself, with aircraft using the runways in view, especially 16R/34L which passes very close to you and can lead to some spectacular photographs.


3. St. Maarten, Caribbean

Air France A340-300 landing at St Maarten. (c) Yasu To

Air France A340-300 landing at St Maarten. (c) Yasu To

Not much can be written about Maho Beach that hasn’t already been said. Some of the most stunning aviation photography in recent times has been of aircraft passing incredibly low over the heads of people on this beach, on the island of St. Maarten in the Caribbean. This is especially fun since huge widebody airliners use the airport, and tend to land as early as possible, barely missing the perimeter fence.

The bar on the beach is known to list the arrivals due at the airport each day, meaning you can keep an eye on what’s due as you sip cocktails and soak up the sun.


4. Larnaca, Cyprus

Mackenzie Beach lies just off the northern perimeter of Larnaca Airport, with aircraft passing close by before landing or after takeoff. You can reach the beach off Piale Pasa, at the southern end of the city.


5. Lanzarote, Canary Islands

When aircraft are arriving on runway 03, the beach running around the southern portion of the airport is an ideal position to spot and photograph aircraft arriving at Lanzarote Arrecife Airport. Due to the position of the sun, this location is best in the morning for photography, and a fence can obstruct some shots of aircraft on the ground. But if you’re just watching the action it is perfect.

The location is reached along Avenida Playa Honda.


6. Boston Logan, MA

By James Wang from Boston, Mass, USA (British Airways 747 (Oneworld livery)) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By James Wang from Boston, Mass, USA (British Airways 747 (Oneworld livery)) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

There are actually two beaches at Boston Logan Airport which are good for spotting.

Constitution Beach is best for aircraft using runways 22L and 22R, and the taxiways associated with these runways. You can get some good action shots of aircraft arriving and departing. Better in the afternoon and evening for photography. This beach is close to Saratoga Street.

Meanwhile, Yirrel Beach at Coughlin Park is great for aircraft approaching runway 27, and to a lesser degree departing runway 09. This location is good all day for photography. The park and beach are off Shirley Street, with parking nearby.


7. Nice, France

Not the best beach for aircraft photography, however the very popular area running the length of the Promenade des Anglais in Nice offers quite interesting views of aircraft departing from the nearby airport. Aircraft need to make an immediate turn to the right following departure, following the sweep of the bay. There are few main airports situated this close to the city they serve.


8. New York JFK


Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge off Cross Bay Blvd is a well known spotting location at New York JFK, alongside Howard Beach, which is good for getting distant after-takeoff shots of heavy airliners as they make a turn.


Do you know of any good beach spotting locations? Leave a tip in the comments section below!

Qantas 767 retirement plans

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Australasia, Australia, Miscellaneous Spotting | Posted on 17-09-2014


"Qantas Boeing 767-300; VH-OGS@SYD;31.07.2012 666id (7863496018)" by Aero Icarus from Zürich, Switzerland - Qantas Boeing 767-300; VH-OGS@SYD;31.07.2012/666idUploaded by russavia. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons -;_VH-OGS@SYD;31.07.2012_666id_(7863496018).jpg#mediaviewer/File:Qantas_Boeing_767-300;_VH-OGS@SYD;31.07.2012_666id_(7863496018).jpg

Qantas will retire its fleet of Boeing 767-300s at the end of 2014 as it proceeds with fleet upgrades.

Many 767s have already left the fleet, or been converted to cargo carriers.

The final day of Qantas 767 operations will be 27 December 2014, with the final flight operating from Melbourne to Sydney as QF490.

Flights will also operate between Sydney and Brisbane on the final day.

Qantas has operated Boeing 767s since 1985, with the -300 model joining in 1988.

Scoot’s 787 routes revealed

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Airport News, Asia, Australasia, Australia, China, Hong Kong, Miscellaneous Spotting, Singapore | Posted on 11-09-2014


(c) FlyScoot

Scoot, the low cost carrier owned by Singapore Airlines, has revealed the routes to be flown by its new Boeing 787 Dreamliners.

The first of these aircraft, a 787-9 model, is due to arrive in November and will likely begin flying for crew familiarisation on some of the carrier’s shorter routes.

Then, from 29 March 2015 the type will enter service on routes from Singapore to Hong Kong, Perth and Sydney.

The airline has 10 787-8 and 10 787-9 aircraft on order. Additional routes to be started in April and May 2015 include Bangkok, Gold Coast, Shenyang and Tianjin.

Eventually all of the airline’s Boeing 777-200s will be replaced by the 787.


You can find out more from our Boeing 787 Routes Page.

United’s first 787-9 delivered

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Australasia, Australia, North America, USA | Posted on 04-09-2014


787-9 CAL #181 ZB167

United Airlines is celebrating as it becomes the first North American airline to take delivery of the extended Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.

The first aircraft, N38950 (36401/181), was delivered on 4th September. United now has both -8 and -9 variants in its fleet.

“We’re proud that United has become the North America launch customer for both the 787-8 and 787-9, marking another important milestone in the successful history of Boeing and United working together,” said Brad McMullen, vice president of North America Sales, Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

United has announced a series of one-off domestic flights to aid in pilot training. From 26 October, the 787-9 will begin flights from Los Angeles to Melbourne.

Next year the Los Angeles – Shanghai route will be upgraded to the 787-9. See our Boeing 787 Routes Page for more information.

United operates 11 787 Dreamliners with an additional 54 on order, including the 787-10.

Qantas Dallas route upgraded to A380

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Airport News, Australasia, Australia, North America, USA | Posted on 14-05-2014



Qantas’ record-breaking route from Sydney to Dallas Ft. Worth is to be upgraded to Airbus A380 equipment from 29 September.

The route is currently operated by a Boeing 747-400ER six times weekly, and recently featured in our Greatest Flights series as it’s now the longest passenger flight in the world.

With the upgrade to A380, the flight will no longer need to stop in Brisbane on the inbound leg.

Coincidentally, this will also give Qantas the crown for the longest A380 flight. Currently Emirates holds the record on its Dubai – Los Angeles route.