Top 10 airports to number crunch at

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, Asia, China, Dubai, Eastern Europe, Frankfurt, Germany, Heathrow, Japan, Middle East, North America, Turkey, UK, USA, Western Europe | Posted on 30-04-2015

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If you’re the kind of spotter who likes to number crunch… that is, collect aircraft registration (or tail) numbers… then there are certain airports and spotting locations that are made for you. At these locations you’re likely to see lots of aircraft in a short period of time, and make the most numbers in your book possible.

Whilst everyone reading this will live in a different location and probably already have seen the aircraft of certain airlines, hopefully at least some of the airports will be an inspiration of how to make more inroads into filling your logbooks on future spotting trips.

If you have a particular favourite, or would like to suggest another airport, leave a comment below!

 

1. Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson International

 

Atlanta Airport

Atlanta has been for many years the busiest airport in the world. Last year it handled almost 900,000 aircraft movements and, as home to Delta Air Lines, most of them were flown by its aircraft and those of its feeder partners. Southwest Airlines is also a major carrier here, along with a number of interesting international airlines.

Atlanta doesn’t offer any official viewing areas, but for most spotters here the only place to go is the Renaissance Concourse Hotel on the southern perimeter. A room (which will have a balcony) facing the airport on a higher floor will be paradise for plane spotters. It is a bit distant to photograph airliners on anything but the nearest runway, but with good binoculars and the help of flight tracking software you will log hundreds of aircraft registrations each day.

 

2. Dallas Fort Worth

 

Dallas Ft Worth

A huge airport in Texas, with seven runways and a complex of five terminals in the central area. Dallas Fort Worth is the home base of American Airlines, whose fleet of aircraft numbers almost 1,000 including that of regional partner Envoy and the former US Airways fleet. So if you need to add these aircraft to your log books, this airport is a good place to begin as movements are non-stop all day long.

The best place to watch aircraft at Dallas Fort Worth is the official Founders Plaza observation area off Highway 114. You’ll see a lot of aircraft movements from here, but with so many runways it’s hard to catch everything!

You can also do a loop on the Skylink Train monorail which passes all terminals with elevated views over many gate areas.

 

3. Oshkosh Wittman Regional

 

Oshkosh

Oshkosh for most of the year is a quiet regional airport with various general aviation and executive aircraft movements, along with historic aircraft from the interesting EAA Museum on site. However, come here for a week at the end of July each year and you’ll encounter the world’s busiest airport as it plays host to the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh Air Show. In recent years up to 15,000 aircraft have flown into the airport over the course of the air show week, with number crunchers filling multiple notebooks and all available time trying to catch everything! One pro tip is to photograph rows of aircraft and note them down later when you have more time, as logging everything simply becomes too demanding.

Most aircraft visiting Oshkosh during the air show are light aircraft, however you will also see many interesting experimental, historic, military and airliner aircraft in attendance to sweeten the log.

 

4. London Heathrow

 

Airbus A380 at Heathrow's Myrtle Avenue Spotting Location

Airbus A380 approaching Heathrow’s Myrtle Avenue Spotting Location

The busiest airport in the United Kingdom, and one of the busiest airports for international flights. Heathrow is great for its mix of airlines arriving from all over the world. Although there are a lot of European and North American carriers, plus British Airways and Virgin Atlantic aircraft, interesting carriers more than make up for it. The airport is also one of the busiest for Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 aircraft.

There are a number of places to spot around the perimeter, plus the Renaissance Hotel has great views and even does spotter packages! One of the favourite spotting locations when arrivals are from the east is Myrtle Avenue.

 

5. Dubai International

 

Dubai Airport © Dubai Airports

Having newly taken the crown of the busiest international airport in the world from Heathrow (see above), Dubai continues to offer a mouthwatering mix of aircraft from around the world. True, most movements are by the impressive Emirates Airline, with its huge fleet of Airbus A380s and Boeing 777s, but other types from around the Middle East and Asia are fascinating to see and often very rare to the log book.

Spotting can be tricky (and misunderstood) here, so it’s best to find a hotel with a view, such as the excellent Sheraton Deira or the Nojoum Apartments.

 

6. Istanbul Ataturk International

 

Istanbul Spotting

Turkish Airlines’ phenomenal growth over recent years has thrust Istanbul’s two airports into the major leagues. Almost 57 million passengers used the larger Ataturk airport last year, mainly on Turkish Airlines’ flights, but also on a variety of other interesting carriers from around the world. It’s also a great airport for interesting cargo movements, often using some older airliners.

There is a shopping mall alongside one of the runways at Ataturk, with a seating area as part of the food court that overlooks the runway and is close enough to see all movements. Spotters are rarely bothered as long as they buy food and drink. Then, on an evening you can retire to a room at the Radisson Blu hotel, which has rooms overlooking the runway and taxiways.

 

7. Beijing Capital

 

Beijing

With almost 90 million passengers flying through last year, Beijing Capital is teetering on the verge of becoming the busiest in the world. It is certainly the busiest in Asia and China, and an obvious place to make dents into logging aircraft, particularly from the many domestic and regional airlines in China, and the airlines from around the Far East.

Although Capital is due to be superseded by a new airport in the coming years, for the time being it will keep on going, bursting at the seams.

The best place to spot is at the southern end of the airport, where there are a variety of locations just under the approach path to two of the runways. These can be walked to from the terminal, or ask a taxi driver to take you.

 

8. Tokyo Haneda

 

800px-Haneda_Airport_Terminal2_ObservationDeck

Haneda is the busiest airport in Japan, and home to most of the domestic aircraft fleets in the country – namely the ones you are unlikely to see anywhere else in the world… and there are lot of them! In addition to this, the airport is regaining international flights at a good rate after years of living in the shadow of nearby Narita.

The airport has three official observation decks – one on each terminal. These are the best, and easiest, places to spot from to log aircraft. However, the problem with them is that you can’t see all movements from just one deck. So you’ll have to move around a bit. The decks on Terminal 1 and 2 are probably the best.

 

9. Frankfurt Main

 

Frankfurt Terminal 2 Visitors Terrace

Frankfurt is another of Europe’s more interesting airports, and one of the busiest. Like Heathrow it has a really nice mix of international airlines flying in, as well as the fleet of Lufthansa and its partners, plus a variety of charter and low cost airlines.

Spotting at Frankfurt is possible from a few locations, but these are spread out and none is perfect for catching all movements. The observation area on Terminal 2 is good for seeing aircraft on the ground and the main runways. There is also a small viewing area alongside the departure-only runway 18, but you’ll need a taxi or car to get there.

 

10. Van Nuys

 

LosAngeles-VanNuys

Van Nuys Airport is in the north of Los Angeles, in the San Fernando Valley. It doesn’t handle any airline services at present, however it is on of the world’s busiest general aviation airports. It has two parallel runways, and last year handled over 260,000 aircraft movements. General aviation doesn’t just mean light aircraft… Van Nuys also handles a great number of executive movements, with all manner of biz jets.

The best place to spot aircraft at Van Nuys is the dedicated viewing area off Woodley Avenue at the end of Waterman Drive on the eastern side of the airport. You’ll see all runway movements from here.

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.

Dubai to become busiest international airport

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport News, Dubai, Heathrow, Middle East, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 16-01-2015

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Dubai Airport © Dubai Airports

London Heathrow’s long-held crown is about to be passed to a new airport as the old order of things starts to get left behind.

Dubai International Airport is expected to be named the world’s busiest international airport once 2014s statistics are published at the end of January. This is the airport which handles the most passenger traffic from international destinations.

Heathrow has had this title for many years, but has been stagnating as it operates at near 100% capacity, unable to grow any further until more runways and slots are made available.

Yet for Dubai, it can only look up. The existing airport has grown massively alongside hometown Emirates Airline, and has seen a number of expansion projects adding concourses and upgrades to its terminal and runways over recent years. The draw of the region for tourism, commerce and employment has meant many airlines from around the world adding flights to Dubai.

Meanwhile Heathrow has been struggling to cope with demand, with some airlines trading rare landing slots for millions of dollars. Passenger figures have settled with no room to grow, and few chances of adding a new runway in the immediate future as the UK government looks at options.

Although Heathrow will relinquish its ‘busiest international’ title, it is still expected to remain marginally busier than Dubai in total passengers handled.

Dubai is planning much greater growth. The new Dubai World Central (Al Maktoum) airport will eventually take over as the main international airport, with a planned five runways. In addition, Emirates Airlines’ growth continues with many more Airbus A380s and other widebody aircraft scheduled to join the fleet in the near future.

9 top spotting airports to reach by budget airline

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Asia, Caribbean, Dubai, Eastern Europe, Middle East, Miscellaneous Spotting, Netherlands, North America, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Sint Maarten, Spain, USA, Western Europe | Posted on 21-11-2014

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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 de Mallorca, Spain

Palma-Vueling

By Peter Bakema [GFDL 1.2], via Wikimedia Commons

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

Amsterdam easyJet

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.

 

Singapore Changi

Photo by Calvin Teo

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

Flydubai fleet

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

Southwest Airlines Heart Livery

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

Spirit Airlines

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

Wizz Air

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 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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

St Maarten Jetblue

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.

Arik Air coming to Dubai

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Africa, Dubai, Middle East, Nigeria | Posted on 05-06-2014

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Arik Air

Nigeria’s Arik Air will commence flights to Dubai from 28 July using Airbus A330-200 aircraft.

Outbound flights will depart from Murtala Muhammed International Airport (LOS), Lagos at 1905 (local time) arriving at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (ABV), Abuja at 2020 (local time). The flight will then continue on to Dubai, departing Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (ABV), Abuja at 2150 (local time) finally arriving at Dubai International Airport (DXB), Dubai Terminal 1 at 0720 (local time).

The inbound flight will depart Dubai at 1030 (local time) and arrives in Abuja at 1430 (local time). The flight continues on to Lagos, leaving Abuja at 1600 (local time) and arriving in Lagos at 1715 (local time).

Dr Michael Arumemi-Ikhide, Arik Air’s Global Chief Executive Officer, commented:

“This is another exciting moment for us all at Arik Air, not only launching a new international destination, but becoming the first airline to link the capital Abuja to Dubai. The importance of Dubai as the Middle East’s commercial capital makes it imperative for Arik Air to connect the city with Lagos which is a Nigeria’s commercial capital.

Etihad creates ‘The Residence’ aboard A380s

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Dubai, Middle East, Miscellaneous Spotting | Posted on 06-05-2014

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THE_RESIDENCE_BEDROOM_HORIZONTAL

Etihad Airways is due to take delivery of its first Airbus A380 at the end of 2014.

In a first for the aviation industry, the airline has created a unique concept on board these aircraft call The Residence.

The Residence will feature a living room, double bedroom, separate ensuite shower room, and for the first time in the airline industry, a dedicated, trained Butler. Designed for up to two guests travelling together, it has been created by leading interior designers and hospitality experts who understand the discernment and sophistication expected by the private traveler. Measuring an unparalleled 125 square feet in total area, The Residence will be located on the forward upper deck of the airline’s new fleet of Airbus A380s and will be available for single or double occupancy.

Etihad A380 Residence

Peter Baumgartner, Etihad Airways’ Chief Commercial Officer, said: “The Residence will set Etihad Airways apart from the rest of the industry and allow us to provide the complete range of world-class products and services to cater for the individual tastes of every VIP traveller.

“This is the culmination of five years of intensive effort and research into how Etihad Airways can provide an unparalleled VIP experience. Without doubt, we are ushering in a new era of luxury travel in commercial aviation.”

Here’s a video of the Residence:

I’m looking forward to seeing these aircraft in the skies and reading trip reports from people using The Residence. It sounds incredible.

TAAG Angola aims to develop Luanda into large hub

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Africa, Airline News, Airport News, Belgium, Brazil, China, Dubai, France, Heathrow, Italy, Middle East, Portugal, South America, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 01-04-2014

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TAAG_777-3M2ERTAAG Angola Airlines is planning to turn its Luanda Airport base into a hub to link Central Africa with worldwide destinations in association with Emirates Airline.

TAAG is currently on the EU banned airline list, but it is hoped it will emerge soon and begin expanding its connections to Europe, including Amsterdam, Brussels, Lisbon, London Heathrow, Paris CDG, and Rome Fiumicino.

Luanda will also be linked through Dubai via Emirates, who will also take on TAAG’s links to Beijing, Rio de Janeiro, and Sao Paulo.

A new airport is being built at Luanda which will be able to handle this increased traffic, and match modern standards expected at airports.

Dubai runway closure leads to reduced frequencies and aircraft grounding

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Airport News, Dubai, Middle East, Miscellaneous Spotting | Posted on 07-03-2014

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Dubai Airport © Dubai AirportsDubai International Airport will close one of its two runways on 1st May for heavy maintenance and resurfacing work to take place.

The closure will last for 80 days, and will mean the airport’s carriers – in particular based airline Emirates – will have to reduce frequencies and make other changes in order to cope with the restrictions in place.

Emirates has also confirmed that it will ground 20 aircraft during the period, including all of its Airbus A340-500s, some A330-200s, and some Boeing 777s.

The airline recently relocated its dedicated freight operations to the new Dubai World Central Airport.

A380 ban lifted in India

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport News, Asia, Dubai, Germany, India, Middle East, Miscellaneous Spotting, Singapore, Western Europe | Posted on 28-01-2014

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Filton A380In a move that is likely to see airlines such as Emirates and Singapore Airlines reviewing their operations to India, the government there has agreed to lift a ban on Airbus A380 flights to the country.

The ban was put in place to protect national carrier Air India from predatory carriers stealing passengers and market share to the country. It was also in part because of a lack of infrastructure to handle the huge superjumbo.

Now, however, A380s will be allowed to fly to the country’s four biggest airports: Bangalore, Delhi, Hyderabad, and Mumbai.

Both Emirates and Singapore Airlines have now said they will review their operations to India with a view to introducing A380 services. Lufthansa, which currently operates Boeing 747-8s to India said it would also not rule out the possibility of flying its A380s to the country.

 

Emirates A380 to start on Gatwick route

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Airport News, Dubai, Middle East, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 30-12-2013

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Emirates A380Emirates will upgrade one of its three daily flights from Dubai to London Gatwick airport to use Airbus A380 equipment.

The change will take effect from 30th March 2014.

Gatwick’s other two daily services will continue to be served by Boeing 777-300 equipment.