Ilyushin IL-96 lives on with Cubana and Red Wings

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Caribbean, Cuba, Eastern Europe, Russia, Spotting News | Posted on 11-09-2014



Aeroflot retired its fleet of Ilyushin IL-96 aircraft earlier this year as it moves towards more modern, Western types for its widebody operations.

One of the aircraft has even been destroyed by fire since it was retired.

However, now there’s a bit of hope for those who like to see Russian planes in the skies, or those who haven’t flown on the type yet (myself included) as both Cubana and Red Wings are taking on some of the former Aeroflot IL-96s for their own operations.

Cubana uses the type on some domestic schedules, and also to places like Buenos Aires, Madrid and Paris Orly from its Havana base. It will take one ex-Aeroflot aircraft.

Red Wings is planning to use the aircraft on flights from Moscow to Simferopol in Crimea. It will take three ex-Aeroflot aircraft. I think it’ll look fantastic in their colours!


Thomson announce a raft of 787 destinations

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Africa, Airline News, Asia, Barbados, Caribbean, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Kenya, Thailand | Posted on 15-01-2013


Thomson Airways are to be the first operator of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner in the UK, with their first aircraft due in the Spring.

The airline has announced a raft of destinations that the type will fly to from the Winter season, starting in November 2013. These include a number of long haul destinations, which will be served mainly from their London Gatwick base. However, regional bases at Manchester and Newcastle will also get 787 routes. The full list announced so far is:

London Gatwick – Punta Cana – Starts 1 November 2013
London Gatwick – Male – Starts 3 November 2013
London Gatwick – Mombasa – Starts 4 November 2013
London Gatwick – Phuket – Starts 5 November 2013
London Gatwick – Montego Bay – Starts 7 November 2013
London Gatwick – Puerto Plata – Starts 13 November 2013
London Gatwick – Holguin – Starts 11 December 2013
London Gatwick – Barbados – Starts 15 December 2013
Helsinki – Mombassa – Starts 22 December 2013
Newcastle – Cancun – Starts 1 April 2014
Manchester – Punta Cana – Starts 2 April 2014

For a full list of Boeing 787 routes from the airlines operating the type, head to the Boeing 787 Routes page.

Cubana planning Antonov 158 fleet

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Caribbean, Cuba, Miscellaneous Spotting | Posted on 24-09-2012


This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.Cubana is planning to order a fleet of six Antonov AN-158 aircraft.

These will be used on flights from its Havana base to destinations around the Caribbean and into Central America.

The AN-148 is a stretched version of the AN-148. It can seat 99 passengers and has a range of 1,600 miles (2,500km).

It is unclear whether this order is in addition to the three Antonov AN-148s already on order, or whether it is a modification of the original order.

Spotting in Cuba

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, Caribbean, Cuba, Spotting Trip Reports | Posted on 20-02-2009


David Stevens wrote this report about a trip to Cuba in 2006. It is still up-to-date, and useful if you plan on visiting Havana and spotting whilst there:

Logged on arrival at Havana were those around the international terminal (Terminal 3) which included:
CU-T1259 IL62 (used as a cafeteria / bar)
CU-T1280 IL62 Cubana
EI-TAD A320 TACA / Cubana
HP-1526CMP 738W Copa Airlines
N762MX 757 Mexicana

With the immigration formalities completed, we headed off to the resort of Varadero for the next 10 nights. Upon leaving the airport at Havana I noted that a NEOS 767, Icelandair 757 and Air France 747 were also now

Wednesday 24th May was to be the one aviation themed day of the trip.
Prior to leaving the UK I’d booked for us to undertake a short domestic flight with Cubana, from Havana to Nueva Gerona on the Isla De La Juventud (a.k.a Island of Youth) – which is located off of the southern coast
of Cuba. The flights costs circa £45 return and were scheduled to be operated by an Antonov 24.

Noted from Terminal 1 at Havana prior to departure were:
CU-C1515 IL18 Aerocaribbean (cargo)
CU-T1236 An24 Cubana
CU-T1243 YAK42 Cubana
CU-T1247 YAK42 Cubana
CU-T1250 IL96 Cubana
CU-T1251 IL96 Cubana
CU-T1257 An24 Aerocaribbean / Cubana
CU-T1541 E.110 Aero Taxi
CU-T1546 IL18 Aerocaribbean
CU-T1547 ATR72 Aerocaribbean
F-GKMY DC-10 Air Lib (stored)
F-GTLY DC-10 AOM (stored)
N285AS E.120 Gulfstream International
XA-TWR 732 Conviasa Venezuela

I didn’t use binoculars within the terminal but instead relied upon using my trusty digital camera. Even then I was careful not to take any shots whilst anyone in a uniform (that seems to be about every 3rd person in
Havana!) was about and kept my camera in the bag when it wasn’t in use.

Havana has a total of 5 terminals with these being used as follows:
Terminal 1 – domestic. Mainly Cubana, Aerocaribbean and Aero Taxi
Terminal 2 – predominantly for charters from the US
Terminal 3 – the main international terminal
Terminal 4 – another domestic terminal. Mainly used by Aerocaribbean
Terminal 5 – currently used for handling the large number of flights that are bringing in Venezuelan workers to Cuba.

From the departure lounge in Terminal 1, Terminals 4 and 5 are completely out of sight as are most aircraft at terminal 3 and the main Cubana maintenance area.

It was then aboard CU-T1257 for the 30 minute flight to Nueva Gerona. This aircraft is in basic Aerocaribbean livery (excluding titles) but operates on behalf of Cubana.

Upon arrival at Nueva Gerona ours was the only aircraft present. It should be noted that there is a heavy police presence at the airport with no views of the ramp available from either landside or indeed airside (I didn’t explore much outside as we were greeted on arrival by a passing thunderstorm).

Just over 4 hours later it was back aboard the same aircraft for the return to Havana. This time she shared the Nueva Gerona tarmac with a Cubana An24.
Back at Havana the airport was very quiet although a Click / Mexicana Fokker 100 and Lineas Aereas Suramericanas (Columbia) 727 were noted before we headed back to Varadero.

The only other spotting completed in Cuba was during a 3 hour stint at Havana prior to our departure back to the UK. Here is what was noted:

C6-BFP DHC-8 Bahamasair
C-GBHM A319 Air Canada
CU-T1243 YAK42 Cubana
CU-T1247 YAK42 Cubana
CU-T1280 IL62 Cubana
CU-T1283 IL62 Cubana
CU-T1538 YAK40 Aerocaribbean
CU-T1547 ATR72 Aerocaribbean
EI-TAC A320 TACA / Cubana
G-VROM 744 Virgin (our ride home)
HP-1523CMP 738W Copa Airlines
N408AT ATR42 American Eagle
N488TA A320 TACA
N762MX 757 Mexicana
PH-MCJ 763 Martinair
TF-FII 757 Loftleidir Icelandic
TF-FIT 757 Loftleidir Icelandic
XA-SHJ FK100 Click / Mexicana
XA-TCH FK100 Click / Mexicana
YV-136T MD80 Aeropostal

Anything parked at the international terminal is easily identified from within the departure lounge. As there were large numbers of people about I decided to leave the camera in the bag and instead used my mini-bins.
In fact, photography from the departure lounge would be difficult as you are always looking though several layers of glass.

Luckily we were sitting on the right hand side of G-VROM as we taxied out and this allowed me to identify a few of the aircraft in the maintenance area as well as a few of the other stored aircraft. Noted were:

CU-T1244 An24 Cubana
(CU-T1253) TU54 Cubana
CU-T1263 An24 Cubana (appears to be WFU)
CU-T1282 IL62 Cubana (appears to be WFU)
CU-T1512 ATR42 Aerocaribbean
CU-T1558 C-47 Aerotaxi (stored without props)
CU-T1559 C-47 Aerotaxi

The registration of the TU-154 is unconfirmed but has been quoted as this in several previous reports. The aircraft is in bare metal and in a very poor condition – the tail has been separated from the fuselage and the
front half of the cabin roof is “missing”.
There is also a stored Aerocaribbean IL18 reasonably close to the threshold of the main runway which has had the registration painted out and is missing all of its engines and the nose cone. According to Soviet Transport this aircraft could be CU-T1517 although I am still attempting to verify this.