Etihad A321 routes

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Abu Dhabi, Airline News, Asia, Eastern Europe, India, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Turkey | Posted on 19-09-2013

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Etihad Airways will take delivery of its first Airbus A321 in December.

This will be the first of 11 the airline has on order. They will initially fly on the following routes:

Abu Dhabi – Chennai
Abu Dhabi – Istanbul Ataturk
Abu Dhabi – Riyadh

More destinations will be introduced as more aircraft arrive.

Record breaking airports

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Africa, Asia, Caribbean, Heathrow, Lesotho, Middle East, North America, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Tibet, UK, USA, Western Europe | Posted on 01-08-2013

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Dubai Airport © Dubai AirportsAir travel has gone from strength to strength since the Wright brothers invented the first pilot controlled aircraft in 1903. After a steep increase in aircraft production during the World Wars, a move was made towards commercial air travel by the 1950s when the large body planes took to the sky. By 1976, Concorde’s luxury supersonic flight reduced crossing the Atlantic to just three hours.

Over the last three decades, the industry has been striving to create bigger, better, faster, sleeker, safer, greener and more efficient ways to travel. The industry took a leap forward in 2007 with the introduction of the A380, the world’s largest commercial aircraft that has the ability to carry more passengers than any other.

The progress of design and technology has also extended to airports around the world. If you fly with Emirates to Dubai you’ll arrive at the Emirates hub in Terminal 3, one of the largest buildings in the world in terms of floor space. The first class facilities include an on-site hotel, so you can relax between connections, as well as plenty of restaurants and shops to keep you entertained. Airport terminals like this now feel like small, self-contained towns, in fact some are bigger than small towns!

 

Unique airports around the world

Read our mini-guide to extreme airports around the world.

 

Busiest airport
All big city airports feel busy, but London Heathrow is officially the world’s busiest airport in terms of international passengers travelling through its terminals. The airport reports that during 2012, an incredible 69.98 million passengers (65.3 million of which were international passengers) arrived and departed. The airport’s busiest day was 31 July 2011, when 233,561 passengers passed through the airport.

Atlanta at night (c) Omoo at en.wikipediaGuinness Book of World Records lists Harsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport as the busiest airport in terms of the number of aircraft taking off and landing. In 2011, 924,000 planes used the airport, and with a staggering 92 million passengers travelling through, it is the busiest airport in the world for both domestic and international travellers combined.

 

Largest airport
King Fahd International Airport in Saudi Arabia is the largest airport in the world. It takes up 780 square kilometres, roughly the same size as New York or larger than the neighbouring country of Bahrain!

The impressive terminal has six stories, including an area that is reserved entirely for the Royal Family.

 

Highest airport
Sitting at 4,334m above sea level, and hugged by the surrounding mountains, Bangda Airport in Tibet is a scenic (if nail biting) destination to land in. Thankfully the runway is longer to account for the longer stopping distance due to the atmospheric resistance caused by the altitude. However, construction is underway to build an even higher airport. Naggu, also in Tibet, is due to open in 2014 and will be at an altitude of 4,436m. With average temperatures remaining below zero throughout the year, this is a difficult part of the world to build and operate an airport.

 

Saba AirportShortest runway
The shortest runway in the world can be found on Saba, a tiny island in the Caribbean that is administered by the Netherlands. Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport is flanked on one side by high hills and the landing strip is just 396m long, with cliffs dropping off into the sea at each end. Only small planes and helicopters can land and take off from the airport, as most commercial liners are far too large for such a short space.

 

Scariest runway
In the mountainous monarchy of Lesotho lies the scariest runway in the world. The take-off strip literally runs off a cliff due to the lack of flat space in the region to fit a full length runway. Often planes are forced to plunge off the 610m high cliff and take flight during the drop in order to get airborne.

 

Best airport
Singapore’s Changi Airport has been announced as the World’s Best Airport 2013 at the World Airport Awards. The awards are voted for by customers and this year the survey had 12.1 million responses. It has been in the top three of the awards for the last 14 years and has won the award four times. It also won the Best Airport in Asia and Best Airport Leisure Amenities, proving Changi is a great place for a layover.

Barra Airport

Unusual airport
Barra Airport in Scotland may look like any other small island airport, but pilots have to check the tide chart as well as the weather and air traffic before setting off for the destination. This is because one of the three runways used for commercial aircraft is underwater a high tide!

Dubai World Central Airport will open to passengers in October

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport News, Dubai, Eastern Europe, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Spotting News | Posted on 03-04-2013

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Dubai World Central Passenger Terminal © Dubai AirportsDubai World Central Airport has announced that it will open to passengers on 27 October, 2013.

Construction of Dubai World Central’s passenger terminal building was completed in 2012. Upon opening, the new facility will offer full retail amenities. It is serviced by one A380 capable runway, 64 remote aircraft stands and has capacity for up to 7 million passengers per year. The terminal will undergo a full testing and trial programme over the coming months to ensure a seamless opening.

The first carriers to operate to the airport have been announced as nasair and Wizz Air. These will link Dubai World Central to Saudi Arabia and Eastern Europe respectively, and will likely offer a much cheaper alternative to reach Dubai from Europe than existing options through Emirates and other full service airlines.

József Váradi, Chief Executive Officer of Wizz Air, said: “I am honoured to announce Wizz Air as a launch customer and first international low fares airline operating at Dubai World Central. For us this is a hugely significant milestone, with our 10 year European success story now crossing borders far beyond Europe.”

Dubai World Central first opened for cargo operations in June 2010 and has quickly established itself as an emerging cargo airport in the region with 36 airlines (scheduled and chartered) handling 219,092 tonnes of air freight on 16,317 aircraft movements during 2012.

Best airports to see active Boeing 727s

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, Asia, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Iran, Malaysia, Mexico, Middle East, North America, Saudi Arabia, South America, Thailand, USA | Posted on 15-02-2013

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Fedex 727-233The Boeing 727 is becoming quite a rare aircraft to see in action these days. Thankfully there are still a number stored and preserved around the world.

Most of the active examples are flown in cargo configuration, with only a few examples still flying passengers (see my Last Chance to Fly ebook for a list of airlines still flying 727s and other rare airliners).

So where can you catch Boeing 727s in action? Here’s a list of some of the airports which have a number of 727s based or visiting regularly.

USA
Memphis, TN – The main super hub for FedEx Express, which is the world’s largest operator of Boeing 727 aircraft. All of its -100 models are gone, but around 40 -200s are still flying and can be seen overnight at Memphis.

Detroit Willow Run, MI – Primarily a cargo airport, Willow Run is home to Kalitta Charters and its fleet of 727-200s.

Florida – A number of 727s operate out of Opa Locka in Florida, including a private example, and also out of Orlando International and Miami International airports.

Colombia
Bogota – One of the world’s busiest airports for Boeing 727 flights. Local cargo operators AeroSucre and Lineas Aereas Suramericanas operate a mixed fleet of -100s and -200s from the airport every day.

Lineas Aereas Suramericanas 727s

Brazil
Airlines such as Rio Linhas Aereas and Total Linhas Aereas operate a number of Boeing 727-200 cargo aircraft from airports throughout the country, with bases in Belo Horizonte, Curitiba and Rio de Janeiro.

 

Kuala Lumpur Subang
Formerly the main airport at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Subang is now a secondary airport used for cargo flights and aircraft receiving maintenance. It is also home to Transmile Air Services. Its fleet of Boeing 727-200 freighters can be seen every day, and photographed from a number of locations around the airport.

 

Tehran Mehrabad
The domestic airport in Iran is where you can catch the last passenger Boeing 727-200s on a daily basis, with both Iran Air and Iran Aseman Airlines operating the type for the time being. These operated to destinations such as Mashad, Kish Island, and Dubai.

Iran Aseman 727

Canada
One of the best places to catch Boeing 727s in action, the airlines Cargojet Airways, and Purolator operate throughout Canada. Their main bases, and thus the best places to catch their 727s, are Hamilton, ON, and Kelowna, BC respectively.

Mexico City
Mexico’s Police and Government both operate a number of Boeing 727-200s on official duties from the country’s main airport. Their flights are irregular, but not uncommon.

Saudi Arabia
Boeing 727-100s and -200s still operate in Saudi Arabia, with private and government examples, plus those operated for DHL out of Jeddah and Riyadh. Spotting is not easy in Saudi Arabia, however.

There are many more airports that both receive aircraft from the airlines listed above, and have their own based examples. Some that spring to mind at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi, Lasham and Southend in the UK, and Cochabamba in Bolivia, where passenger examples still flew until recently.

The chance to photograph a Boeing 727 is quite rare now, so why not post the pictures you’ve managed to take recently for us all to enjoy? And why not comment below if you’ve seen a 727 recently, telling us where you saw it.