Monarch close to 737 MAX order

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, North America, Spotting News, UK, USA, Western Europe | Posted on 14-07-2014

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Monarch 737 MAX

Monarch Airlines is close to finalising a deal with Boeing to order 30 737 MAX 8 aircraft as part of its fleet upgrade.

Although it operates a couple of 757-200s, and in the past operated 737-300s, Monarch has been primarily an Airbus operator over recent years. It has a fleet of A320s and A321s, and recently retired its A300-600s. So this move is an interesting development for the UK holiday carrier.

The order is valued at $3.1 billion at current list prices.

“Today’s announcement is an important milestone in an exhaustive three year evaluation process, and a key part of The Monarch Group’s transformation and renewal,” said Iain Rawlinson, Executive Chairman, The Monarch Group. “Boeing truly understood our business and put together a complete package that fits extremely well with our ambitions for the Group.”

“We are delighted that Monarch intends to structure its future fleet around the 737 MAX,” said Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and CEO Ray Conner. “We look forward to finalizing the order and can’t wait to see the Monarch livery on 737s once again. Today is a proud moment for everyone at Boeing, as we welcome back a prestigious U.K. operator. We are confident that the 737 MAX will play a significant role in Monarch’s continued success.”

Airbus announces A330neo

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Miscellaneous Spotting, Spotting News | Posted on 14-07-2014

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A330-900neo

Airbus has announced the anticipated A330neo (new engine option) variant of its popular twin-engined, widebody airliner at the Farnborough Air Show.

The European manufacturer is showing off its new A350XWB at the event, but has chosen the moment to also build on the popularity of its existing model with this announcement.

The A330-800neo and -900neo will offer greater fuel savings (around 14%), quieter engines (the latest Rolls-Royce Trent 7000) with larger fan blades, as well as more seats and improved cabin features. Much of the construction will be of composite material, based on the A350XWB.

A330neo cabin

As well as having operational commonality with other members of the Airbus Family – including the same pilot type rating as the A330, common type rating with the A350 XWB and the same “Code-E” gate category as the A330-200 and -300 – the NEO will also retain 95% airframe spares commonality with A330 and inherit its marketing-leading reliability.

The first deliveries of the newest A330 members are scheduled to start in Q4 2017.

Boeing 727 services return to Europe!

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Azerbaijan, Eastern Europe, Spotting News, Switzerland, Western Europe | Posted on 28-06-2014

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Photo (c) Babak T

Photo (c) Babak Taghvaee

A new Boeing 727 scheduled service is to begin in Europe, a number of years since the last was seen.

The route is to be flown by Azerbaijan Airlines, and will link Baku with Geneva, flying twice weekly (Friday and Sunday) using a specially configured aircraft with executive interior. It will seat 65 passengers in a First and Business Class layout.

The route will begin on 11th July, and it is expected that the aircraft used on the service will be 4K-8888, a 727-251 originally operated by Northwest Airlines, and now in a striking livery with immaculate interior.

Flights will be operated with the schedule as follows:

Baku – Geneva, departure 7:55am arrival 9:55am
Geneva – Baku, departure 11:15am arrival 6:55pm

But it will come at a cost. Premium fares will be charged to the mainly business clientèle using the service. Let’s hope it lasts a long time!

 

 

Virgin Atlantic reaches 30. Announces first 787 route

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Heathrow, North America, Spotting News, UK, USA, Western Europe | Posted on 24-06-2014

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The first Virgin Atlantic service to New York (c) Steve Fitzgerald

The first Virgin Atlantic service to New York (c) Steve Fitzgerald

Richard Branson’s revolutionary airline, Virgin Atlantic, which was first conceived after he chartered an aircraft in the Caribbean to rescue the travel plans of himself and fellow passengers following a flight cancellation, is now 30 years old.

Richard was caught up in the idea of setting up a new airline arm to his Virgin empire, and soon took delivery of a Boeing 747 to start low fare flights from London Gatwick to New York on 22 June 1984. Passengers would experience staff hired for their fresh outlook on service, and flights with better entertainment and food options.

Virgin Atlantic launch press conference

It would grow to become a major player in long haul travel, both from Gatwick and Heathrow airports. It also opened Virgin Atlantic Little Red, a low-cost domestic airline, in 2013.

Fleet Upgrades

Virgin Atlantic VAA 787-9 Artwork K64012-01

Virgin operates a fleet of Airbus A340 and Boeing 747-400 aircraft, but it has been looking to upgrade with more fuel efficient aircraft.

The airline has been considering what to do about its Airbus A380 order since it deferred delivery, and will make a decision soon.

However, Virgin is due to take delivery of its first Boeing 787-9 aircraft later this year and, to coincide with its 30th anniversary, has announced that the first route of the type will be from London Heathrow to Boston Logan, starting on 28th October.

It is likely the aircraft will be used on crew familiarisation sectors before then, possibly on the Little Red network. We’ll let you know as soon as we hear.

Heathrow Terminal 2 Opens

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport News, Airport Spotting Guide, Heathrow, Spotting News, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 04-06-2014

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The first flight arrives at Heathrow's new Terminal 2

The first flight arrives at Heathrow’s new Terminal 2

London Heathrow Airport‘s Terminal 2 has opened to passengers this morning.

The first flight, arriving from Chicago O’Hare at 6am, was operated by United Airlines, who will be the only airline to use the terminal initially. Shortly, however, other Star Alliance carriers will also transfer their operations from other Heathrow terminals, along with Aer Lingus and Virgin Atlantic Little Red.

The £2.5 billion terminal replaces the original Terminal 2 and Queens Building, which was the first of the central terminals at Heathrow. The new one is much more spacious and has a greater capacity for passengers and aircraft. It features a huge sculpture.

It also has 28 gates, eight A380 piers, 33 shops and 17 restaurants.

What Terminal 2 is like for enthusiasts is not known yet, but we’d love to hear from you if you’re passing through or visiting in the coming days. Are there any views before security? Do the departure lounges have large windows?

You can find out more about spotting at Heathrow here.

First HondaJet executive aircraft nearing completion

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Miscellaneous Spotting, North America, Spotting News, USA | Posted on 28-05-2014

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HondaJet

The first HondaJet executive aircraft is approaching the end of construction at the company’s plant in North Carolina, reports Motoring.com.au.

The aircraft, known as the HA-420, is aimed at the growing biz jet market. It is a twin-jet T-tail design which it is hoped will begin deliveries to customers next year.

“Honda Aircraft Company’s most important goals are achieving Federal Aviation Administration Type Certification and delivering the first customer aircraft,” said Honda Aircraft Company President and CEO Michimasa Fujino. “Our total effort is focused on reaching these much anticipated milestones in the first quarter of 2015.”

The first aircraft will undergo ground tests soon, and will be followed by eight more test examples as part of the certification process.

Asiana Airbus A380 delivery

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Asia, South Korea, Spotting News | Posted on 26-05-2014

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A380 ASIANA AIRLINES

Asiana Airlines of South Korea has taken delivery of its first Airbus A380. It becomes the 11th airline to operate the type.

This aircraft, registered HL7625, is the first of six that the airline has on order.

Asiana Airlines will initially deploy its new flagship aircraft from Seoul on regional services in Asia to Tokyo, Hong Kong and Bangkok, followed by long-haul routes to Los Angeles.

“We are delighted to receive our first A380 today, which is key to our future vision and fleet modernisation strategy”, said Park Sam Koo, Chairman of Kumho Asiana Group. “I am confident that Asiana can further enhance its level of customer service and that the A380 will play a significant role in helping us to remain at the forefront of the airline business.”

Air Canada’s first Boeing 787 delivered

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Canada, France, Heathrow, Israel, Middle East, North America, Spotting News, Switzerland, UK | Posted on 19-05-2014

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787-8 ACN #160-ZA610

Air Canada has taken delivery of its first Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner aircraft, registered C-GHPQ.

The aircraft, the first of Air Canada’s 37 787s on order for delivery through 2019, departed Paine Field in Everett, Wash. on its delivery flight to Toronto on 18th May.

Air Canada has announced it will use the 787 on its Toronto-Tel Aviv routes, as well as launch a new destination – Tokyo’s Haneda Airport. The 787 is 20 percent more fuel efficient than similar-sized airplanes it will replace in Air Canada’s fleet.

Other routes scheduled to see Air Canada 787s include London Heathrow, Paris CDG and Zurich. See more on our Boeing 787 Routes page.

Whilst crews familiarise themselves with the aircraft, it will begin operating on the Toronto – Montreal domestic service at certain times over the next couple of months.

Manston Airport to close

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport News, Spotting News, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 07-05-2014

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This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. (c) James Stuart

This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. (c) James Stuart

The UK’s historic Manston Airport – famed for its role in the Battle of Britain, and popular with enthusiasts largely because of its collection of stored and abandoned airliners – has announced it is to close on 15th May.

The airport was bought for £1 last year by an investor who hoped to find a future for the airport. But recently, the only passenger operator at Manston, KLM Cityhopper, withdrew its flights to Amsterdam and the future looked bleak.

Since the airport is losing £10,000 per day, it entered a consultation period about closing and has now announced this date, despite offers from investors and business proposals by staff.

It’s a sad end to Manston, which interestingly has one of the widest runways in the world.

Air Malta Retro A320 flies

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Malta, Spotting News, Western Europe | Posted on 16-04-2014

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Air Malta Retro

Air Malta has painted its Airbus A320 9H-AEI in a retro livery, showing the airline’s 1970s and 80s colours.

It made its debut in a flypast at Malta Airport, with many spotters ready to take pictures.

Picture (c) Air Malta