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.
The Russian government has thrown a lifeline to the Ilyushin IL-96 – a type that has all but disappeared since Aeroflot retired its fleet in favour of western wide-body types recently.
Fourteen examples are expected to be taken over the coming decade, with the majority being new-build aircraft from the production factory at Voronezh.
The remaining examples will be converted from existing IL-96-400T freighter aircraft already in service or storage. One example, RA-96104, was recently converted into a IL-96-400VPU used for aerial command and control missions. Two aircraft will also be destined for use as presidential transports. Four older (and smaller) IL-96-300s are already used for this purpose and may be retired as a result.
With this news in mind, here’s a look at some other Russian types which have not yet succumbed to the dominance of western aircraft types:
Although it made its debut in 1990, the Tu-204 has only seen 76 examples built. It is still officially in production. The Tu-214 was a modernised version which first flew in 1996.
Airlines currently flying the type include Red Wings, Transaero, Cubana, Air Koryo, Cairo Aviation/TNT, and the Russian Government. Transaero and China Cargo have a number of examples on order for the most recent variant ,the Tu-204SM.
Sukhoi Superjet 100
Despite a slow start, things have been looking up lately for this modern Russian regional jet. Around 90 are in service, with airlines such as Aeroflot, Interjet, Gazpromavia, Yakutia and Lao Central Airlines. Future deliveries will include examples for Red Wings, UT Air, Yamal Airlines, Transaero, Comlux, VLM, and the Thai Government, along with examples placed through a number of leasing companies.
This type is the first Russian airliner for years to truly gain international reach, and potential to challenge the dominance of western airliners.
Despite Aeroflot retiring the type from passenger service in 2014, the type remains in active service with Cubana and can often be seen on routes to Europe.
Of the stored fleet of Aeroflot types, it is expected that some will go to Cubana to supplement its fleet. The remainder may also go to government use, or be used as spare part sources for active aircraft or rebuilds.
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)
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
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.
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
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
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!
CSA Czech Airlines has announced a bunch of new routes starting next year, following a period of cutting back and introspection over recent years.
The new routes to be opened by the airline are:
Prague – Bilbao – A319 (Starts 1 June 2015)
Prague – Billund – ATR42 (Starts 29 March 2015)
Prague – Bologna – ATR72 (Starts 29 March 2015)
Prague – Cork – A319 (Starts 14 May 2015)
Prague – Kaliningrad – ATR72 (Starts 29 March 2015)
Prague – Kazan – A319 (Starts 29 March 2015)
Prague – Oslo – A319 (Starts 30 March 2015)
The airline said:
“After a year of cutbacks, we plan to expand the existing Czech Airlines’ network starting the 2015 summer season. We feel that there is a significant business potential in our new destinations which we would like to use fully. At the same time, we would like to capitalise on Czech Airlines great reputation in the Russian market and, effective April 2015, service a total of nine destinations in Russia,” said Jozef Sinčák, Chairman of Czech Airlines Board of Directors, and added: “We have set the new destinations timetables in a way to best use the market potential and at the same time appeal to both local and transfer passengers as the connections were designed with the customers’ priorities in mind. We will operate all new destinations using the existing free capacity of Czech Airlines and thus improve the fleet use.”
Spotting isn’t the cheapest hobby, especially if you want to do a lot of it. So I thought I’d look at a few of the best spotting airports that are easily accessible by budget airlines. Hopefully it’ll give you some inspiration for your next trips!
Palma is one of the busiest holiday airports in Europe, particularly during the summer months. Airlines ferry holidaymakers in droves from all over northern Europe, so you’ll see charter and low-cost airlines as well as Spanish regional aircraft. Palma is a big base for Air Berlin, and plenty of other budget airlines also fly there year-round, including easyJet, Ryanair and Vueling.
Amsterdam Schiphol, Netherlands
By Aero Icarus from Zürich, Switzerland [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Although it is one of Europe’s busiest and largest airports, and is also a stronghold of national airline KLM, Schiphol is surprisingly easy to get to by budget airline. easyJet links many destinations across Europe, whilst Flybe and Jet2 link a number of additional points in the UK.
Photo by Calvin Teo
A major Asian powerhouse and the hub of the large Singapore Airlines. Changi is also on the route map of many low cost and budget airlines, including home-based Jetstar Asia, Tigerair and Valuair, plus regional carriers Air Asia and Lion Air. Long haul low-cost flights are provided by Jetstar and Scoot to destinations across Asia and Australia.
Dubai International, UAE
You may think of Emirates when you think of Dubai, but the second largest carrier at the Middle East hub is Flydubai, a budget airline serving destinations across Africa, the Middle East, Indian subcontinent They even fly into Europe. It makes a more affordable way to reach the airport for some spotting.
Atlanta Hartsfield International, GA
Atlanta was known as the busiest airport in the world for many years, largely because of the huge presence of Delta Air Lines reaching across the globe and to many points across the United States. However, the airport’s second largest carrier is Southwest Airlines following its acquisition of Airtran. This means you can get to Atlanta from destinations across America at great prices.
Dallas Ft Worth, TX
Another US airport which is dominated by a home based legacy carrier – in this case American Airlines – you may be surprised to find that you have good budget options that don’t require a trip to nearby Love Field. Spirit Airlines recently announced a number of new routes from Dallas to regional and leisure destinations to add to its existing network from the airport.
Warsaw Chopin, Poland
The capital of Poland is a major hub for budget carrier Wizz Air which fights bitterly with full service national carrier LOT. You can also reach Warsaw via carriers Norwegian, Air Berlin, Germanwings and Vueling.
Moscow Domodedovo, Russia
By Milad A380 (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
For years it was only possible to reach Moscow via traditional full service airlines, or one of Aeroflot’s classic Soviet airliners. However, recent agreements have led to a number of low cost airlines from outside Russia offering flights to Domodedovo. Most significant perhaps is easyJet, which flies from two points in the UK. Other budget airlines flying to Moscow include Air Berlin, Germania, Niki, Meridiana fly, Vueling and Air Arabia.
St Maarten, Caribbean
A spotters paradise which is on the bucket list of many who like to photograph airliners at close quarters. But it’s not necessary to spend mega bucks getting there with big airlines, particularly from North America, since budget airlines such as Jetblue, Sun Country and Westjet fly regularly to the island.
British Airways is taking on ten second-hand Airbus A320 aircraft to be based at London Gatwick airport.
The aircraft are all due for delivery between October 2014 and June 2015. Here’s a lowdown on the aircraft details.
G-GATH, c/n 1482, ex TC-OBH (Onur Air) – due November 2014
G-GATJ, c/n 1509, ex TC-OBI (Onur Air) – due October 2014
G-GATK, c/n 1902, ex HA-LPD (Wizz Air) – due January 2015
G-GATL, c/n 1834, ex HA-LPF (Wizz Air) – due January 2015
G-GATM, c/n 1892, ex HA-LPE (Wizz Air) – due March 2015
G-GATN, c/n 1613, ex PT-MZX (TAM) – due February 2015
G-GATO, c/n 1663, ex PR-MAB (TAM) – due March 2015
G-GATP, c/n 1804, ex PR-MAE (TAM) – due April 2015
G-GATR, c/n 1771, ex PR-MAD (TAM) – due May 2015
G-GATS, c/n 1672, ex PR-MAC (TAM) – due June 2015
These aircraft will operate the European schedules from Gatwick, mostly replacing the Boeing 737-400 and Airbus A319s based there currently.
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!