Virgin plans Boeing 747 retirement

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Heathrow, North America, UK, USA, Western Europe | Posted on 18-05-2015

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Virgin 747

Virgin Atlantic has penciled in the retirement of its Boeing 747 fleet.

Unless further changes occur, the final flight will be VS006 from Miami to London Heathrow on 17 April, 2016, arriving on 18 April at 1130am.

This will be a significant moment for the airline, which began services using a Boeing 747-200B in 1984 and has never been without the jumbo ever since. However, today the airline has a growing number of modern types such as the Airbus A330 and Boeing 787, and is still due to receive Airbus A380 superjumbos at some point (they have been deferred by the airline).

So now’s the chance to get a Virgin 747 flight booked if you haven’t yet!

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.

Wizz Air A321 routes revealed

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Belgium, Eastern Europe, Hungary, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 28-04-2015

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Wizz Air

Wizz Air will shortly take delivery of its second aircraft type, the larger Airbus A321, which will complement its large fleet of A320s.

From November 2015, the type will enter service from its Budapest base on the following routes:

  • Budapest – London Luton – Starts 20 November 2015
  • Budapest – Eindhoven – Starts 16 December 2015
  • Budapest – Brussels Charleroi – Starts 16 December 2015
  • Budapest – Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen – Starts 16 December 2015
  • Budapest – Stockholm Skavsta – Starts 26 February 2016
  • Budapest – Tel Aviv – Starts 26 February 2016
  • Budapest – Alicante – Starts 27 February 2016
  • Budapest – Maastricht – Starts 27 February 2016

The airline has 26 Airbus A321s on order.

In other news, Wizz Air has announced its first flights to Iceland, with a twice-weekly link from Gdansk to Reykjavik starting in July.

Finnair flying the A350 to Europe on familiarisation flights

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Frankfurt, Germany, Heathrow, Miscellaneous Spotting, Spain, Spotting News, Sweden, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 09-04-2015

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A350XWB Finnair

Finnair is due to be the third airline customer of the Airbus A350XWB in September, after Qatar Airways and Vietnam Airlines.

The airline has announced that it will fly the new aircraft between Helsinki and a variety of European destinations on crew familiarisation flights before it begins service on Finnair’s long-haul network.

In addition it will also fly the A350 domestically from Helsinki to Oulu and Rovaniemi as part of the familiarisation schedule.

European destinations include Barcelona, Berlin, Brussels, Copenhagen, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, London Heathrow, Malaga, Paris CDG, Stockholm Arlanda and Vienna.

At the time of writing the following schedule is planned:

Helsinki–Rovaniemi 05-Oct-15 AY421
Rovaniemi–Helsinki 05-Oct-15 AY428
Helsinki–Oulu 05-Oct-15 AY2369
Oulu–Helsinki 05-Oct-15 AY2370
Helsinki–London 06-Oct-15 AY831
London–Helsinki 06-Oct-15 AY840
Helsinki–Frankfurt 07-Oct-15 AY821
Frankfurt–Helsinki 07-Oct-15 AY822
Helsinki–Stockholm (Arlanda) 07-Oct-15 AY645
Stockholm (Arlanda)–Helsinki 07-Oct-15 AY650
Helsinki–Paris 08-Oct-15 AY871
Paris–Helsinki 08-Oct-15 AY890
Helsinki–Copenhagen 08-Oct-15 AY667
Copenhagen–Helsinki 08-Oct-15 AY668
Helsinki–Amsterdam 09-Oct-15 AY841
Amsterdam–Helsinki 09-Oct-15 AY842
Helsinki–Oslo 09-Oct-15 AY659
Oslo–Helsinki 09-Oct-15 AY658
Helsinki–Barcelona 10-Oct-15 AY3271
Barcelona–Helsinki 10-Oct-15 AY3270
Helsinki–Málaga 10-Oct-15 AY735
Málaga–Helsinki 11-Oct-15 AY736
Helsinki–Hamburg 11-Oct-15 AY851
Hamburg–Helsinki 11-Oct-15 AY852
Helsinki–Barcelona 11-Oct-15 AY3269
Barcelona–Helsinki 11-Oct-15 AY3272
Helsinki–Brussels 12-Oct-15 AY811
Brussels–Helsinki 12-Oct-15 AY812
Helsinki–Málaga 12-Oct-15 AY735
Málaga–Helsinki 13-Oct-15 AY736
Helsinki–Berlin 13-Oct-15 AY911
Berlin–Helsinki 13-Oct-15 AY912
Helsinki–Gothenburg 13-Oct-15 AY677
Gothenburg–Helsinki 13-Oct-15 AY674
Helsinki–Düsseldorf 14-Oct-15 AY703
Düsseldorf–Helsinki 14-Oct-15 AY704
Helsinki–Vienna 14-Oct-15 AY767
Vienna–Helsinki 14-Oct-15 AY768
Helsinki–Munich 15-Oct-15 AY803
Munich–Helsinki 15-Oct-15 AY804
Helsinki–London 15-Oct-15 AY995
London–Helsinki 15-Oct-15 AY996
Helsinki–Brussels 16-Oct-15 AY811
Brussels–Helsinki 16-Oct-15 AY812
Helsinki–London 16-Oct-15 AY995
London–Helsinki 16-Oct-15 AY996
Helsinki–Barcelona 17-Oct-15 AY3271
Barcelona–Helsinki 17-Oct-15 AY3270
Helsinki–Málaga 17-Oct-15 AY735
Málaga–Helsinki 18-Oct-15 AY736
Helsinki–Copenhagen 18-Oct-15 AY661
Copenhagen–Helsinki 18-Oct-15 AY666
Helsinki–Barcelona 18-Oct-15 AY3269
Barcelona–Helsinki 18-Oct-15 AY3272

Flights are on sale now from the Finnair website’s A350 page: http://www.finnair.com/a350

 

A350RoutesSidebar

Remember to check out our Airbus A350 Routes Page for details of Finnair’s long-haul destinations, and routes by other A350 airlines.

Frankfurt Terminal 2 Visitors Terrace Reopens

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport News, Frankfurt, Germany, Spotting News, Western Europe | Posted on 05-04-2015

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Frankfurt Terminal 2 Visitors Terrace

After a length period of closure and renovation, the visitors terrace on Frankfurt’s Terminal 2 will reopen this month.

The new terrace has a new floor, and also now has a glazed frontage and protective overhang which means photography is not going to be as good as before.

The other big change is that you no longer need to have your bags screened before entering the visitors terrace, which is as a result of the new protective glass and overhang.

Work is still ongoing to improve more floor area, and also to install seating. But for spotters, one of the more useful areas will now be back in action.

Frankfurt Terminal 2 Visitors Terrace is open daily 10am to 6pm (7pm on weekends and public holidays). It is accessed upstairs in the food court area.

  • Adults €3
  • Family (5 people) €12
  • Under 4’s and disabled people FREE

For more information see http://www.frankfurt-airport.com/content/frankfurt_airport/en/services/visitors-terrace.html

Heathrow Terminal 4 viewing area – spotting video

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, Heathrow, Spotting Videos, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 03-04-2015

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If you weren’t aware, London Heathrow airport relented recently and installed a new viewing area for plane spotting (here’s our report about its opening). The major drawback, however, was that it is located in the departures section of Terminal 4, so you’ll need an airline ticket to use it. Nevertheless, anything is better than nothing and you can also show up for your flight really early to make sure you get chance to enjoy it.

To give you an idea of what the Terminal 4 viewing area is like, here’s a decent video (by Dantorp Aviation) showing arrivals, departures and aircraft taxiing around the airport as seen from this area. The view is pretty good and you won’t miss much.

Spotting at Teruel – Spain’s storage and maintenance airport

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, Spain, Spotting News, Western Europe | Posted on 19-03-2015

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Spotters watch the first 747 land (Photo: EL PAÍS)

Spotters watch the first 747 land (Photo: EL PAÍS)

Teruel Airport has suddenly started making waves amongst the spotter community as it has sprung up in no time from the dry land of eastern Spain.

Unlike other new Spanish airports built to attract passengers and ultimately languishing semi-mothballed, Teruel was designed from the start to act as a storage, maintenance and recycling base for airlines and other operators to bring their aircraft to.

Teruel2

The airport has a single, long runway, with ramp space and a tiny terminal. However, behind this is a grid pattern of taxiways which are designed for long-term storage of airliners, much like you would see in Arizona or California. Teruel boasts the largest storage area in Europe for aircraft.

One of the first arrivals at Teruel was a Boeing 747 freighter of Air Cargo Germany. Since then the airport has filled with over 30 airliners, mainly from the fleet of struggling Russian carrier UT Air. Types include Boeing 737s, Airbus A321s and Bombardier CRJs.

There are also Airbus A330s from Libya and Brazil and Boeing 747s from France and the Netherlands present at the time of writing.

Teruel3

The airport is operated by Tarmac Aerosave (which also manages storage at Tarbes Airport in France). It is around 100 miles south of Zaragoza and 95 miles north-west of Valencia, just off the A-23 motorway and N-234 highway at Caude.

Teruel in relation to the main cities in Spain

Teruel in relation to the main cities in Spain

Early reports from spotters passing by are that aircraft can be seen with some perseverance and with the use of a car to explore the minor roads surrounding the field. However, security have also made their presence known, stopping spotters and asking what their business is. Therefore caution is advised.

The owners hope to grow this new business, and may even see passenger flights servicing the nearby ski resorts eventually.

 

Castellon “ghost airport” gains Ryanair routes

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Airport News, Spain, Western Europe | Posted on 12-03-2015

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Castellon Airport

One of Spain’s infamous “ghost airports”, built amid a period of wasteful spending by the Spanish government, is to gain its first commercial airline service.

Castellon Costa Azahar Airport in the east of Spain, situated to the north of Valencia, was built for €150 million despite having no formal offers from airlines.

Ryanair_B737-800_EI-DYC

Now, Ryanair has committed to starting 3x weekly flights to London Stansted and 2x weekly flights to Bristol, presumably to test its potential. The flights will commence in September 2015.

Castellon Airport has a single runway and small terminal building. For spotters, although I haven’t visited, it looks like roads passing either end of the runway offer opportunities for watching aircraft arrivals and departures. But I don’t think it’s worth the visit just yet!

Kelowna Flightcraft rebranding and shifting focus

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Airport News, Belgium, Canada, North America, Western Europe | Posted on 12-03-2015

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Kelowna Flightcraft

Canada’s specialist cargo operator Kelowna Flightcraft is rebranding in a bid to reestablish itself following the loss of a major contract.

The airline, which flies Boeing 727, Convair 580 and Douglas DC-10 freighters, will now be known as KF Cargo. It will also relocate one of its bases to Toronto Pearson International Airport from Hamilton.

Its aircraft will now be seen travelling to Europe more often, with a 4x weekly DC-10 flight to Brussels National starting on 17 May.

It will also fly from Vancouver to both Anchorage, AK, and Calgary, as well as between Toronto and Halifax, from July.

“We’ve lost our single source of revenue and cargo, and now the majority of the customers we want to fly for are based in Toronto,” Flightcraft spokesman Grant Stevens told Canada’s Spectator magazine. “Now we’re trying to break into a new market, so we have to be in Toronto.”

“There is a lot of cargo from Europe, Africa and South America destined for Canada, but we are concentrating on the EU market through Brussels right now. The rest we’ll worry about later,” Bryan Akerstream, Director of Business Development, said.

(Source: CH-Aviation)

Dusseldorf railway station spotting area closed

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport News, Airport Spotting Guide, Germany, Spotting News, Western Europe | Posted on 08-03-2015

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By Konstantin von Wedelstaedt [GFDL 1.2 (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html) or GFDL 1.2 (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Konstantin von Wedelstaedt [GFDL 1.2 or GFDL 1.2], via Wikimedia Commons

Unfortunately one of the two official spotting locations at Dusseldorf Airport has been closed.

The railway station, linked to the national and local rail network, as well as to the terminal via a monorail, featured an open air viewing area which overlooked the ends of runways 23L and 23R, as well as the taxiways linking them. As such it was a great place for photographing airliners both on the ground and in the air.

But sadly the viewing area is now closed, and it is reportedly a permanent closure.

A.Savin [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or FAL], via Wikimedia Commons

A.Savin [CC BY-SA 3.0 or FAL], via Wikimedia Commons

The other official viewing area, atop the terminal building, remains open. It is on top of concourse B, and reached via the third floor. There is a small entrance fee.

Opening times are now 10am-7pm year-round (no early summer opening now)