Spotting at Tarbes Lourdes Airport

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, France, Spotting Trip Reports, Western Europe | Posted on 02-10-2015


Tarbes Lourdes Spotting Guide

Tarbes Lourdes is a regional airport in the south of France close to the Pyrennees, Andorra and the border with Spain. It is an airport worth visiting for spotters if you are in the area – not because of the regular aircraft traffic, but because it is an increasingly busy airport for storing and dismantling large airliners from around the world.

This guide to spotting at Tarbes Lourdes Airport will show you how to make the most of your visit and where the best places are for viewing aircraft.


The Airport

Tarbes Lourdes has a single, long runway, oriented 02/20. On the eastern side is the passenger terminal, general and business aviation terminal, and associated airport operations.

The western side is home to a large hangar and pans for parking aircraft.

The situation of the airport is quite spectacular, with the Pyrennees as a backdrop. It certainly helps liven up photographs, and there are a few locations to help with spotting on the ground.


Spotting at Tarbes Lourdes

Regular Traffic

Lourdes is a place of pilgrimage for Catholics and, as such, receives a regular stream of aircraft in relation to this. Pilgrims arrive on organised trips from airports all over Europe. These are usually flown on chartered aircraft from both French and international carriers. The mix is too varied and irregular to list here individually, but often includes airlines such as Air Medieterranee, Titan Airways, Germania, and Mistral Air.

Scheduled traffic is provided by Air France regional partner Hop!, which links to Paris a few times per day. TNT provides a cargo link.

In the summer there are a number of additional services by airlines such as Jetairfly, Enter Air, Ryanair, Air Nostrum, Albastar and Thomas Cook Airlines Belgium.



Tarbes Lourdes is now an important base for the storage and dismantling of airliners – in particular wide-body Airbus types, such as the A330 and A340.

Tarmac Aerosave operates a large hangar on the western side of the runway. This is the same company that operates the storage facility at Teruel Airport in Spain.

Many of the aircraft will find new homes, but a lot are also dismantled for spares on site, so it’s not uncommon to see fuselages and parts of aircraft lying around. One of the biggest problems I found whilst spotting at Tarbes Lourdes was the fact that many of the aircraft had their registrations removed, so it took a bit of effort to find some other identifying markings, such as fleet or construction numbers on the nosewheel doors. Many have also been given a temporary F- registration.

In addition to the aircraft stored on the west side of the runway, a number are also stored on a strip of apron to the south of the terminal.

On my visit there were 37 stored airliners visible, of which 27 were Airbus A340 variants (including the A340-600 prototype, F-WWCA). The rest were made up of Airbus A300 (2), A319 (1), A320 (1), A330 (3), Boeing 737 (2), McDonnell Douglas MD-80 (1).


Spotting at Tarbes Lourdes Airport


There are a few places to spot at Lourdes. It’s best if you have a car, but not essential. This map gives you an idea of the best locations I found.

Tarbes Lourdes Spotting

Spotting location 1

1. This is the place to go if you don’t have a car. The road ramp leading from the car park to the departures level of the passenger terminal has a good, elevated view across to the storage area. Whilst it’s hard to see registrations from here, it gives you a good overview of what’s parked on the western side.

Tarbes Lourdes Spotting

Spotting location 2

2. If you have a car, drive from the terminal and keep going straight. You’ll come to a small roundabout. Instead of joining the motorway, take the first exit and follow the road around the perimeter. At the next roundabout, turn right into an industrial estate. Then turn right again at the T-junction. An area of wasteground here offers a good view of the line of stored aircraft along this part of the airport. It’s also a good place to watch any movements on the runway.

Tarbes Lourdes Spotting

Spotting location 3

3. Continuing along the perimeter road, take a right at the next roundabout. The road turns into pretty much a stone track here. Where it turns left towards Ossun, take a right and you’ll come to a crash gate. Don’t linger here too long, but you’ll be able to see a few more of the parked airliners.

Tarbes Lourdes Spotting

Spotting location 4

4. Continue along the track parallel to the runway (not towards Ossun). This will be hemmed in by tall crops in the late summer, but eventually you’ll reach the back of Tarmac Aerosave. You can’t go in, but there are fleeting glimpses of aircraft parked around the hangar here – especially of those being dismantled.

Driving on, across the railway line, will eventually complete the loop of the airport, taking you back to the terminal or the N21 motorway.


Spotting Guide Bookdestin3d

Tarbes Lourdes is just one of over 300 airports to feature in my new World Airports Spotting Guides book. Find out more here:

The book has detailed spotting locations, maps, spotting hotels, museums and much more.

British Airways’ first 787-9 delivered

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Heathrow, Miscellaneous Spotting, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 01-10-2015


British Airways 787-9

British Airways yesterday took delivery of their first Boeing 787-9, G-ZBKA, at London Heathrow following a flight directly from Paine Field near Seattle.

The aircraft is the first of 18 that the airline has on order, and complements its fleet of eight shorter 787-8 aircraft operating on long haul services.

All of the aircraft will be based at London Heathrow, and will initially fly to destinations such as Abu Dhabi, Muscat, Austin, Kuala Lumpur and San Jose.

The 787-9 is likely to appear on a few domestic or European services for crew familiarisation. However, the first dedicated service is from London Heathrow to Delhi, starting 25th October 2015.


Keep an eye on our Boeing 787 Dreamliner Routes Page for all routes flown by each airline.

CityJet Rebranded

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Ireland, Western Europe | Posted on 14-09-2015


Irish regional airline CityJet has unveiled its new branding and colour scheme as it transitions its business for future expansion.

Avro RJ85 EI-RJT is the first of the airline’s aircraft to receive the new branding, which features a new logo and a pair of red and beige curves sweeping down the fuselage.


The aircraft was unveiled at CityJet’s Dublin base by The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Paschal Donohoe TD. The airline’s Executive Chairman Pat Byrne said: “This is a new look for a new era as we continue to grow our passenger numbers and invest in our staff and fleet. Today is a special day as we bring CityJet forward with a new dynamic branding, which I would refer to as inside-out branding as it based hugely on what our staff across the airline determined it should be.”

CityJet separated itself from owners Air France in 2014 and since then has been redefining its business and looking at future expansion. It still operates codeshare services for Air France, and maintains a crew base at Paris, but is also now focusing on its Dublin and London City bases.CityJet-logo

The airline, which operates a mix of RJ85 and Fokker 50 aircraft, is evaluating its future fleet needs. Both Bombardier CSeries and Embraer’s range of aircraft are under review.

With CityJet rebranded it is looking to further establish its links to mainland Europe from London City, as well as more growth on its UK-Ireland routes.

Where to catch the new SWISS Boeing 777-300

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Switzerland, Western Europe | Posted on 06-09-2015


Swiss International Boeing 777-300ER (c) Swiss International Air Lines Ltd

SWISS will start taking delivery of its nine Boeing 777-300ER aircraft in March 2016. The aircraft will replace older long haul aircraft in the fleet, and will be used on the carrier’s longest routes, adding greater capacity and comfort.

The SWISS Boeing 777-300 will be used initially on the following routes:

  • Zurich – Montreal – Starts 27 March 2016
  • Zurich – Hong Kong – Starts 10 April 2016
  • Zurich – Los Angeles – Starts 9 June 2016
  • Zurich – Bangkok – Starts 8 July 2016
  • Zurich – Sao Paulo – Starts 1 August 2016
  • Zurich – Tel Aviv – Starts 28 August 2016
  • Zurich – San Francisco – Starts 1 September 2016

Here’s a nice video about the new aircraft from SWISS


Estonian Air moving into Swedish domestic market

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Eastern Europe, Estonia, Miscellaneous Spotting, Sweden, Western Europe | Posted on 28-08-2015


Estonian Air CRJ900 at Stockholm Arlanda

Estonian Air has announced plans to move into the Swedish domestic market by announcing two new routes.

The airline will commence services from the winter timetable this year, starting on 25 October, on the following routes:4

  • Stockholm Arlanda – Arvidsjaur
  • Arvidsjaur – Gallivare

Both flights will operate 11x weekly and act as an extension of each other (ie Stockholm – Arvidsjaur – Gallivare). They will be operated by Estonian’s CRJ900 aircraft equipment.

The airline also operates from Tallinn to Stockholm Arlanda with the CRJ900.


First Finnair A350 rolled out

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Finland, Miscellaneous Spotting, Western Europe | Posted on 27-08-2015


Finnair A350

The first fully painted Airbus A350 for Finnair has rolled out of the paint shop at Toulouse and here’s the picture.

The aircraft is OH-LWA, and is one of 19 on order with the airline. The first delivery is due in September, with flights commencing in October.

See our Airbus A350 Routes Page for more information.


Korean Air’s first 747-8i delivered

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Asia, Frankfurt, Germany, South Korea, Spotting News, Western Europe | Posted on 26-08-2015


747-8I KAL #1506-RC051

747-8I KAL HL7630

Korean Air has had its first Boeing 747-8i delivered – the first of ten it has on order of the passenger variant of the latest jumbo jet.

With this delivery, Korean Air becomes the first airline in the world to operate both the passenger and freighter versions of the 747-8. Korean Air currently operates seven 747-8 Freighters.

Korea’s flag carrier currently operates a fleet of 87 Boeing passenger airplanes that includes 737, 747 and 777s. The airline also operates an all-Boeing cargo fleet of 28 747-400, 747-8 and 777 Freighters.

Its new 747-8i’s will fly on the route from Seoul Incheon to Frankfurt from 2 September 2015, going daily from 1 October.

Other routes will be Singapore and San Francisco from November, followed at some stage by London Heathrow, which was announced initially before changing to Frankfurt.

The first aircraft is registered HL7630.

Oman Air 787 Routes Announced

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Frankfurt, Germany, Italy, Middle East, Oman, Spotting News, Western Europe | Posted on 19-08-2015


Oman Air 787 Routes

Oman Air is due to take delivery of their first Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner in September. The airline has announced the first routes that the type will operate when in service from October. They are:

Oman Air 787 Routes

  • Muscat – Salalah – 1x daily from 25 October
  • Muscat – Frankfurt – 1x daily from 25 October
  • Muscat – Milan Malpensa – 1x daily from 1 December

Salalah is a short domestic route which will be operated initially to aid in training crews. It is not likely to feature as a long-term 787 route for the airline.


The airline has four 787-8s on order, and six 787-9s which are due for delivery between 2016-2018.


As always, keep an eye on our Boeing 787 Routes Page for a full list of all of the Dreamliner routes operated by different carriers.

Bristol Airport Aviation Fair

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport News, Miscellaneous Spotting, Spotting News, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 19-08-2015


Bristol Airport Aviation Fair

Following the success of last year’s inaugural event, Bristol Airport Spotting are hosting another Aviation Fair in partnership with Bristol Airport on Sunday 20th September 2015 between 10.30am and 4.30pm in aid of the airport charity of the year which this year is Children’s Hospice South West.

The event will take place within the Bristol Room which is located in the airport administration building. There will be free car parking.

Entry to the event is £1.50, and you will find a large amount of exhibitors coming along. Visitors to the fair this year can expect to see Bristol Aero Collection, miniature Bristol Airport project, IPMS Avon model club, T7 Models, Fly2Help aviation charity, Aviation Postcard Man, Bristol Airport Police and South West Aviation Photographers to name but a few.

The Bristol Room has great views across the apron of aircraft departing, arriving and taxiing just a short distance from the windows, ample seating will be available to sit and watch the activity.

For more information and directions to the event please visit –

Register your interest in attending the fair by joining the event on Facebook

10 Airports You Need to Visit

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, Asia, Colombia, Eastern Europe, France, Frankfurt, Germany, North America, North Korea, Portugal, South America, Turkey, UK, USA, Western Europe | Posted on 05-07-2015


The world is full of such a variety of airports and each has its own appeal to spotters. I’ve put together this list of airports which every spotter should try to visit at some time to help enrich their aviation interests and make the most of their hobby.


1. Everett Paine Field

Paine Field Spotting

Home of Boeing’s widebodie production lines and the world’s largest building – currently responsible for producing 747s, 777s, 787s and the occasional 767. Once aircraft have been completed they are taken to the paint assembly building, and then placed outside whilst final preparations are made.

Aircraft undertake testing regularly once complete, so you’ll always see something of interest using the airport’s single main runway.

Aircraft that have been completed are sometimes placed in storage at the airport – seen recently with some early 787s and 747-8s. You may also be lucky to see the first Boeing 727 aircraft, which is preserved at the airport, along with a De Havilland Comet 4 and some other historic aircraft.

Head to the Future of Flight centre for a grandstand view over the airport. Here’s a post about spotting at Paine Field.


2. Pyongyang

Pyongyang Line-Up

It’s not the busiest, and some might be a little sensitive about the way North Korea is run, but purely from an enthusiast’s point of view this is a very interesting place. Air Koryo, the national carrier, still flies classic Russian types such as the Tu-134, Tu-154, Tu-204, IL-62 and IL-18.

Pyongyang airport recently opened its brand new terminal, which looks much more akin to those found in the West. But to be able to experience the aircraft here you’ll need to take part in an organised tour, such as those on offer with Juche Travel Service.


3. London City

London City Airport Morning Ramp

The British capital is served by many airports, but London City is by far one of the world’s more unusual. Built on a former dock at the heart of the city, it makes for a challenging and restricted environment to operate large airliners in. Yet every day aircraft arrive from across Europe, and even New York. Its location among the skyscrapers of London’s financial district means the short runway requires a steep approach angle and only certified aircraft are permitted to operate there.

It’s easy to watch aircraft come and go here from the docks opposite the runway, or under the approach paths at either end.

Here’s a post about London City Behind The Scenes.


4. Los Angeles International


With California’s amazing climate, endless sunshine, and an incredible mix of aircraft, LAX should be on anyone’s list of must-visit airports.

Los Angeles has four runways and nine passenger terminals. Each major US airline has a decent presence here, as well as large airliners from across the globe, and leisure airlines from Mexico, Hawaii and the Caribbean. On the south side of the airport, cargo airliners and biz jets complete the lineup.

Head to Imperial Hill or the In ‘n’ Out Burger restaurant for the best views. Here’s a post about spotting at Los Angeles.


5. Frankfurt Main

Frankfurt Terminal 2 Visitors Terrace

Germany’s busiest airport, and one of the main gateways to Europe. Like LAX, its mix is mouthwatering to the enthusiast, comprising all main European carriers, low-cost airlines, leisure carriers, cargo, regional, and long-haul traffic.

Spotting is not as good here as in days gone by, but the airport still provides two official locations – at Terminal 2 and alongside runway 18 – and there are some other good spots to watch aircraft.


6. Toulouse Blagnac

A350 © Airbus S.A.S 2013 Photo by H. Goussé

Europe’s busiest aircraft manufacturing airport. Most Airbus A319, A320, A330, A340 and A380 aircraft are constructed here, as well as ATR turboprops. Regular airline traffic isn’t much to write home about, but who cares when you’ve got airliners destined for all corners of the globe undergoing completion and flight testing in the southern France sun?

There are various places to watch aircraft around the airport perimeter, and an official viewing deck at the terminal. Plus, you can arrange tours of the Airbus plant, and visit historic aircraft at the on-site museum.


7. Funchal

By Thomas Klein (Own work (own photography)) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Thomas Klein (Own work (own photography)) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

When space is limited, sometimes the only option is to build your airport runway on stilts. That’s exactly what heppend at Funchal, on the Portuguese island of Madeira in the Atlantic Ocean. When demand from leisure airlines grew, the runway was extended out from the cliff-side that it occupies to allow larger aircraft to be handled. The position of this airport also means aircraft take an interesting approach path before landing, often in crosswind conditions.

Spotters can position themselves on the hillside above the runway for some excellent photographs and videos.


8. Phoenix Deer Valley

Phoenix Deer Valley

Unlike other airports on this list, Deer Valley isn’t on the route map of lots of scheduled airlines or a place to see the latest Dreamliners and Airbus A380s. Yet it is one of the busiest airports in the world. In particular, it is actually the busiest airport in the world for biz jet movements, according to recent statistics.

So if you’re looking for something different, or like to log and photograph Citations, Global Expresses and Gulfstreams, this is the place to head to.

The Arizona airport has two runways and is in the north east of the city. You can watch movements from the official observation deck on top of the terminal building, which even pipes in ATC broadcasts.


9. Bogota


Probably the most interesting of South America’s main airports. Bogota, in Colombia, is a hub for Aviana, LAN Colombia, Copa Airlines and VivaColombia. This is great in itself, but the airport is also one of the last bastions for some older jets, like Boeing 727s of AeroSucre and Lineas Aereas Suramericanas, and F-28s and DC-3s of the Colombian Government.

The airport also has a nice collection of preserved aircraft on the military side of the airport.

Spotting is possible inside the terminal, or from the end of the runways if you have a car.


10. Istanbul Ataturk

Istanbul Spotting

Europe’s latest up-and-coming airport thanks mainly to the explosive growth of Turkish Airlines, which is trying to emulate what Middle East carriers are doing in connecting east and west. As such, this main base for the airline (it also operates from nearby Sabiha Gokcen Airport) sees a constant stream of the carrier’s red tails coming and going.

Traffic comprises a good mix of European and long-haul flights, with the vast majority naturally made up of Turkish Airlines and AtlasJet. The draw for enthusiasts is the growing fleet of the national airline, and the opportunity for photography in the warm climate. A good mix of cargo carriers can also be seen.

There are a number of places to spot from round the perimeter, as well as the excellent FlyInn shopping mall which is great for viewing and photographing aircraft from the cafe balcony. There is also a nice aviation museum on the southern boundary.


World Airports Spotting Guides

World Airports Spotting Guide

My upcoming book, World Airports Spotting Guides covers over 300 of the world’s airports, including details on what you can see there, and where to spot from. Many of the guides also include the best spotting hotels and aviation museum attractions. Find out more and pre-order the book here: