VLM bringing Superjet to Europe

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 30-10-2014

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VLM Superjet

VLM Airlines is undergoing restructuring following a management buyout, and will be the first airline in Europe to introduce the Sukhoi Superjet.

The airline, based in Antwerp, currently operates a fleet of Fokker 50 aircraft on contract and charter work, and also flies on behalf of Cityjet on a number of business routes.

“We received an offer from the management of VLM Airlines that we felt we could not refuse.” said Peter Oncken, Managing Director at Intro Aviation. “We are happy to see VLM now to develop as a wholly independent airline in the ownership of a management which is dedicated to VLM”.

The airline has agreed a lease with Ilyushin Finance for two Sukhoi Superjet 100s, with options on a further two, and purchase rights on an additional ten examples.

The aircraft will be used to help VLM return to its independent scheduled service roots, beginning a network of short-haul services from Antwerp from April 2015. The Fokker 50 fleet will also be used on the scheduled services, and the Cityjet deal will continue.

“We looked at a number of aircraft types in the 100-seat range to see which would give the best passenger experience, flexibility in short-to-medium range destinations and low operating costs – the SSJ100 LR won hands down. It has been great working with IFC and Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Company and I am looking forward to a mutually profitable long-term relationship.”

CitizenM Paris Charles de Gaulle Spotting Hotel

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport News, France, Spotting Hotels, Spotting News, Western Europe | Posted on 25-10-2014

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CitizenM Paris Airport Spotting

A new citizenM hotel opened recently at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport which is proving to be a useful option for aircraft spotters looking for a Paris spotting hotel.

The hotel also offers a less expensive alternative to the other hotels at Charles de Gaulle, such as the Hyatt and Hilton. Rooms can be booked from €70 per night, and the hotel operates a self-service check-in, with a snack bar available.

When checking in to the hotel, visitors are offered either a ‘Runway View’ or ‘Office View’ room. No prizes for guessing which you should pick if you’re wanting to watch aircraft movements from your room. Naturally, a higher room would be more advantageous, and it’s possible to select a different room if you’re offered an unacceptable one at first.

Views from the ‘Runway View’ rooms face the northerly runways, alongside Terminal 2, and the taxiways which link the northerly part with Terminal 1 and the southern runways.

Paris Spotting Hotel

citizenM offer free wi-fi internet in their rooms, which is ideal for using SBS equipment or flight tracking websites to tie up aircraft seen out of the window or on distant runways.

The hotel is only a short walk to what remains of the Mound viewing area at Paris Charles de Gaulle. This is one of the only places to easily log and photograph movements at the airport, even with its recent remodeling. Here’s a map of where the hotel is located in relation to other parts of the airport.

citizenM Paris location

The Citizen M Paris CDG hotel can be found and booked here: http://www.citizenm.com/destinations/paris/paris-charles-de-gaulle-hotel

 

Monarch retiring Boeing 757 in November

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Spotting News, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 23-10-2014

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Monarch 757

Monarch will retire its Boeing 757 fleet in November according to the airline’s latest plans.

Unlike its Airbus A300 retirement earlier this year, which saw a specially laid-on enthusiast flight to celebrate the event, the 757 will go quietly after performing its final flights on 2nd November.

A couple of ad-hoc charter flights are planned for the type following that date, after which it will be disposed of as the airline focuses on its modern fleet of Airbus A320s, A321s and A330s

Monarch is currently undergoing a change of ownership as the Mantegazza family sells the longstanding airline to Greybull Capital. Already announced this week is the departure of strategy director Stuart Jackson, among hundreds of job layoffs planned for the restructuring of the airline, which will only focus on scheduled services in the future.

Whilst visiting Gatwick recently I took this time lapse sequence of a Monarch Boeing 757 during preparation for departure, which is a nice tribute to the type.

Monarch was one of the first airlines in the world to operate the Boeing 757 when it took delivery in 1983, alongside other UK operators Air Europe and British Airways. The fleet could be seen on charters across Europe, Africa and North America, but the natural life of the airframes is coming to an end and the airline must look forward to a brand new fleet. It recently ordered 30 Boeing 737 MAX 8s, and has taken a number of second hand A321s recently to bolster its capacity.

 

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Frankfurt will be Qatar’s first A350 route

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Airport News, Frankfurt, Germany, Middle East, Qatar, Spotting News, Western Europe | Posted on 21-10-2014

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Qatar A350

Qatar Airways will introduce its new Airbus A350XWB aircraft on the Doha – Frankfurt route once delivered next year.

The A350-900 was certified recently, with one aircraft now wearing the full Qatar Airways livery. It is anticipated that delivery to the airline of the first of its 80 aircraft order will be in late 2015.

It will then operate on both of the airline’s daily flights to Frankfurt.

Qatar Airways took delivery of its first double-decker A380 aircraft in September this year and it is currently operated daily on the Doha – London Heathrow route.

Blackpool Airport closes today

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport News, Miscellaneous Spotting, Spotting News, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 15-10-2014

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Blackpool Airport

Blackpool Airport will close today after it was announced that owners Balfour Beatty could not find a buyer to take over.

The airport has been loss-making for a number of years, despite having a number of based operators and regular scheduled flights with Jet2, Aer Lingus and Citywing.

The final commercial flight will leave Blackpool at 6pm on 15th October, ending over 100 years of aviation use on the site at Squire’s Gate, close to the heart of the seaside resort in northern England.

Balfour Beatty bought the airport in 2008. In recent years it has pushed for approval to use various parts of the site to generate capital for the business, but has been blocked. Blackpool handled 262,000 passengers in 2013.

The final flight will operate to the Isle of Man, with the airport closing an hour later. Based light aircraft are likely to be removed over coming weeks.

This is a sad fate for another regional airport fighting to make ends meet in the increasingly difficult passenger market. Other airports, such as Biggin Hill and Durham Tees Valley are making strides to change their business plans to rely less on aircraft income and more from other aviation activities and spare land on the site.

Do you have any memories of Blackpool Airport, either as a passenger or a spotter?

British Airways’ second hand A320 fleet details

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Airport News, Brazil, Eastern Europe, Hungary, South America, Spotting News, Turkey, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 08-10-2014

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British Airways A320

British Airways is taking on ten second-hand Airbus A320 aircraft to be based at London Gatwick airport.

The aircraft are all due for delivery between October 2014 and June 2015. Here’s a lowdown on the aircraft details.

G-GATH, c/n 1482, ex TC-OBH (Onur Air) – due November 2014
G-GATJ, c/n 1509, ex TC-OBI (Onur Air) – due October 2014
G-GATK, c/n 1902, ex HA-LPD (Wizz Air) – due January 2015
G-GATL, c/n 1834, ex HA-LPF (Wizz Air) – due January 2015
G-GATM, c/n 1892, ex HA-LPE (Wizz Air) – due March 2015
G-GATN, c/n 1613, ex PT-MZX (TAM) – due February 2015
G-GATO, c/n 1663, ex PR-MAB (TAM) – due March 2015
G-GATP, c/n 1804, ex PR-MAE (TAM) – due April 2015
G-GATR, c/n 1771, ex PR-MAD (TAM) – due May 2015
G-GATS, c/n 1672, ex PR-MAC (TAM) – due June 2015

These aircraft will operate the European schedules from Gatwick, mostly replacing the Boeing 737-400 and Airbus A319s based there currently.

Virgin Atlantic Little Red to close next year

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Heathrow, Spotting News, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 07-10-2014

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By Aero Icarus from Zürich, Switzerland [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Virgin Atlantic will close its Little Red domestic division early next year.

The airline flies Airbus A320s leased from Aer Lingus on routes out of London Heathrow to Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Manchester, which link in to its long haul flights out of the London hub.

Little Red was set up in March 2013 following IAG’s purchase of bmi British Midland when certain bmi slots at Heathrow were awarded to Virgin to ensure fair competition.

Loads on Little Red flights have been less than enthusiastic, and there have been fewer connecting passengers than Virgin had hoped.

Services to Manchester will end in March 2015, and to Aberdeen and Edinburgh in September 2015.

Airbus A350-900 receives type certification

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in France, Miscellaneous Spotting, Spotting News, Western Europe | Posted on 30-09-2014

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Airbus-A350XWB-Formation-Flight-02

Airbus flew five of its A350-900 aircraft in formation over France yesterday for some unique photographs.

The display was to celebrate the new aircraft receiving its EASA type certification.

The EASA A350-900 Type Certificate was signed by EASA’s Executive Director, Patrick Ky. The document was handed over to Airbus’ Executive Vice President Engineering, Charles Champion and Airbus’ A350 XWB Chief Engineer, Gordon McConnell.

“Receiving the A350-900 Type Certification from EASA is a great achievement for Airbus and for all our partners who have contributed to designing, building and certificating this fantastic, new generation aircraft. The A350-900 is now ready to fly from the nest and be enjoyed by airlines and passengers,” said Fabrice Brégier, Airbus President and CEO. “The A350 XWB embodies many extra innovative technologies which make all the difference in passenger comfort and airline efficiency.”

Etihad new livery on A380 reveal

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Abu Dhabi, Airline News, France, Middle East, Spotting News, Western Europe | Posted on 25-09-2014

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Etihad A380

Etihad Airways has used the completion of its first Airbus A380 aircraft to unveil a new livery.

Keen eyed spotters had been speculating for weeks as the airline’s first superjumbo was seen being tested with strange colours on the tail.

Now, all is clear as the airline presents its ‘Facets of Abu Dhabi’ scheme at the Airbus Hamburg facility.

The new design uses a colour palette which reflects the varying hues of the landscape of the UAE, from the darker sands of the Liwa desert to the lighter colours seen in the Northern Emirates. The result of extensive research, the design will also be a key feature of the new cabin interiors being introduced on Etihad Airways’ Airbus A380 aircraft.

The entire Etihad Airways fleet of more than 100 aircraft, as well as those to be delivered, will be painted in the new livery during the next three years ensuring that the Facets of Abu Dhabi is seen across the world.

Etihad Livery

Airbus A320neo first flight on Thursday

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in France, Miscellaneous Spotting, Spotting News, Western Europe | Posted on 23-09-2014

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A320_NEO_REVEAL-

Airbus is planning the first flight of its new A320neo (New Engine Option) aircraft on Thursday 25 September.

Subject to weather and no last minute problems, the state-of-the-art replacement to the current A320 model will fly from Toulouse Airport in southern France on a two-hour flight.

 

 

***UPDATE

Here’s a picture of it in flight

A320neo Flight