Austrian Airlines Fokker fleet sold to Alliance Aviation

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Australasia, Australia, Austria, Miscellaneous Spotting, Western Europe | Posted on 25-11-2015


Austrian Fokker 100

Austrian Airlines has completed a deal that will see its entire Fokker aircraft fleet sent to Australia’s Alliance Aviation.

Austrian currently flies 15 Fokker 100s and six Fokker 70s on regional and domestic routes.

All 21 aircraft will be heading to Australia from December 2015 to December 2017 as newer Embraer 195 aircraft enter the fleet, replacing the Fokkers on a one-for-one basis. The purchase price for the Fokker aircraft is USD 15 million, and will comprise an issue of new shares in Alliance and a cash component.

By Phil Vabre [GFDL ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Phil Vabre [GFDL or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

Alliance Aviation has a fleet of 15 Fokker 100 and eight Fokker 70 jet planes, and says it is the largest global operator of these types of aircraft. The company operates bases in Brisbane, Townsville, Cairns, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Auckland. For many years it has been a customer of Austrian Technik Bratislava, which specializes in the repair and maintenance of Fokker aircraft. A long-term service agreement between Alliance Aviation and Austrian Technik Bratislava was just concluded in the spring of 2015.

Fleet renewal at TAP Portugal with large Airbus order

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Miscellaneous Spotting, Portugal, Western Europe | Posted on 13-11-2015


TAP Portugal Airbus Order

TAP Portugal has announced its planned fleet renewal by placing a large order for 53 Airbus aircraft valued at $8.5 billion at list prices.

The new order will cover both its medium and long haul fleets, and comprises:

  • 15 A320neo
  • 24 A321neo
  • 14 A330-900neo

Interestingly, this new order will replace a previously placed order for 12 A350-900 aircraft.

“Our latest order for 14 Airbus A330-900neo aircraft and 39 A320neo Family aircraft reflects our ongoing commitment to provide our customers with the next generation of fuel efficient aircraft,” said Fernando Pinto, TAP Portugal CEO. “The A330neo, like the A320neo Family, will give us the flexibility to enter new markets and improve the frequency of existing ones due to its combination of high reliability, low operating costs and exceptional comfort,” he added.

TAP Portugal is an all Airbus customer, currently operating 43 A320 Family aircraft and 18 Widebody Family aircraft.

KLM Fokker 70 aircraft going to Air Niugini

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Asia, Miscellaneous Spotting, Netherlands, Western Europe | Posted on 26-10-2015


KLM Fokker 70 for Air Niugini

KLM Cityhopper’s fleet of ageing Fokker 70 aircraft are to be replaced by more Embraer 190s and 175s over the coming years.

Now it has been announced that Air Niugini is to purchase seven of the aircraft, adding to the one former KLM Fokker 70 example it is already operating.

The aircraft will operate on domestic and regional routes alongside its Fokker 100 aircraft. The aircraft may also be flown on routes to Cairns, Vanuatu and Honiara in the Solomon Islands.

Air Niugini Board Chairman, Sir Frederick Reiher said the airline’s board and management believes the F70s aircraft are perfectly suited to PNG market due to their performance and operating economics. Subsequently, they were chosen over the closest alternatives, the Dash -8 Q400 and ATR. In-fact, the Fokker 70’s will be replacing the existing Dash8 Q400 fleet at Air Niugini.

Five of the aircraft are due for delivery by the end of 2015, with two more following in 2016.

In addition to Air Niugini, some of the Fokker 70 fleet has already gone to Insel Air in the Caribbean, with three currently serving the airline and four more due for delivery from 2016.

Where to see the Vulcan

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Canada, Miscellaneous Spotting, North America, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 10-10-2015


Photo (c) Vulcan to the Sky Trust

Photo (c) Vulcan to the Sky Trust

Bear with me… this is going to be a slight departure from the usual focus of this site on airports and commercial aviation. I hope you will still read it!

I’ve always had a soft spot for the Avro Vulcan heavy bomber. I remember seeing them flying a lot in the 1980s, and have loved the fact that a last airworthy example has remained in flight for the past few years, performing at airshows all over the UK.

But the inevitable is now happening – the type is being retired from flight forever this month.

Surprisingly there are a number of Vulcans that you can still visit and see, and some of them are even kept in ‘working’ condition, if not actually flyable. So I thought I’d put together a list of where to see the Vulcan if you happen to be missing seeing it in the skies.



XH558 (G-VLCN)
Doncaster Sheffield Airport

The last airworthy example will retire to its base at Doncaster Sheffield Airport in northern England. Its hangar is being turned into a visitor experience and a working trust that will train young engineers to work on aircraft. Vulcan to the Sky Trust website,where you can donate to their excellent work.

This Vulcan will remain in ‘live’ condition and still taxi on occasion. But it will sadly be grounded.


Wellesbourne Mountford Airfield

Another complete example which has been restored into fantastic condition over the past couple of decades by the 655 Maintenance & Preservation Society. She is now capable of fast taxis. Unfortunately the future of Wellesbourne Mountford airfield is in doubt, so the future of this Vulcan is not entirely certain.


XL319 at Sunderland

XL319 at Sunderland

North East Land, Sea and Air Museum, Sunderland

As a regular volunteer at this museum, I see XL319 a lot. It flew into what was once Sunderland Airport in 1983 and took up residence in the new museum. It is still there, complete, and you can often go inside the cockpit. Museum website.


Royal Air Force Museum, Hendon, London

A significant part of the collection at the RAF Museum in Hendon is XL318. It is complete, but has been reassembled following delivery to the museum. Museum website.


London Southend Airport

This is another Vulcan that was kept in working order following retirement. It was fully decommissioned for a time, but has recently been returned to power by the Vulcan Restoration Trust and it is often opened to the public.


BAE Woodford

The airfield at Woodford, near Manchester, has recently been demolished for redevelopment. But a huge white Vulcan still sits on the site. There is a proposal to build a new museum around this aircraft, which is the only Vulcan to wear the original all-white colour scheme.


RAF Waddington

One of the Vulcans which took part in the bombing of the Falkland Islands, XM607 sits as a gate guard at its former home of RAF Waddington. It is situated next to the public viewing area and in pretty good condition.


Newark Air Museum

Another complete Vulcan in great condition, and on display at the Newark Air Museum in Lincolnshire, England. It is occasionally opened to the public. Museum website.


XM597 at Museum of Flight, East Fortune

XM597 at Museum of Flight, East Fortune

National Museum of Flight, Scotland

The only Vulcan to reside in Scotland is XM597, which is at the National Museum of Flight at East Fortune, not too far from Edinburgh. Museum website.


Royal Air Force Museum, Cosford

The other RAF Museum in the UK is at Cosford, close to Birmingham. Their Vulcan is XM598, which is displayed inside a hangar. Museum website.

This museum also holds the cockpit section of Vulcan XA893.



XM612 at Norwich

City of Norwich Aviation Museum

Displayed outside at this museum on the perimeter of Norwich Airport. Museum website.


Goose Bay

Vulcan at Goose Bay

Goose Bay Airport, Canada

The only Vulcan in Canada. This one flew across the Atlantic and had a technical problem which grounded it. As a result, it was decided to turn XL361 into a gate guard display to commemorate the RAF’s involvement with Goose Bay Airport.


Ashland Vulcan

Strategic Air and Space Museum, Ashland, NE

One of three Vulcans preserved in the USA. XM573 is complete and can be seen by visitors to the museum. She arrived here in 1982. Museum website.


Castle Air Museum, Atwater, CA

This museum is at the Castle AFB in California. Its Vulcan, XM605, arrived in 1981. Museum website.


XJ824 at Duxford

XJ824 at Duxford

Imperial War Museum, Duxford

Displayed indoors at this famous British aviation museum in Cambridgeshire. Museum website.


Global Power Museum, Barksdale, LA

The third Vulcan in America. XM606 is displayed outside at this museum at Barksdale AFB. Museum website.


Midland Air Museum, Coventry

One of three Vulcans in the English Midlands, XL360 is displayed outside. It is usually open to the public. Museum website.


East Midlands Aeropark

On display in this compact open-air museum next to the runway at East Midlands Airport, close to Nottingham and Leicester. Museum website.


Solway Aviation Museum, Carlisle

Finally, XJ823 is tucked away in north-west England, a few miles from the border with Scotland, at Carlisle Airport. Museum website.



In addition to these complete airframes, you can also see part fuselages of Vulcans in the following locations:

  • Aeroventure Museum, Doncaster
  • Jet Age Museum, Gloucester Staverton Airport
  • Bournemouth Aviation Museum
  • Norfolk & Suffolk Aviation Museum

Plus a few cockpit sections in private hands.



I hope this has given you some good insight about where to see the Vulcan bomber in all its glory, even though it is now grounded. Go and visit some of these magnificent aircraft and inspect them at close quarters.


Finnair A350 enters service

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Finland, Miscellaneous Spotting, Spotting News, Western Europe | Posted on 08-10-2015


Finnair A350 enters service

Finnair has taken delivery of its first Airbus A350XWB, OH-LWA (cn 018) an a flight from Toulouse to Helsinki. It is the first of 19 aircraft on order.

This makes Finnair the first airline in Europe to operate the A350, after Qatar Airways and Vietnam Airlines started flying the type.

The Finnair A350 enters service amid much hype, and the airline will be flying it on a series of crew familiarisation routes on many of its European schedules from 9th October, before it enters service on long haul routes to the Far East from November.

Finnair A350

The aircraft will join the airline’s all-Airbus fleet of 45 aircraft in operation, today comprising 30 A320 Family aircraft and 15 A330/A340s.

 “Finnair has enjoyed a long and prosperous working relationship with Airbus and the A350 takes our cooperation to another level. This aircraft is the future of flying and will give our passengers a completely new and enhanced travel experience,” says Finnair CEO, Pekka Vauramo.
“At Airbus, we’re proud and delighted to see Finnair, one of the world’s longest-standing and most respected airlines, become the first European carrier to fly the A350 XWB,”  said Fabrice Brégier, Airbus President and CEO. “The A350 XWB’s unrivalled fuel efficiency and passenger comfort make it the perfect aircraft to spearhead Finnair’s Asian expansion.‎”

For a full list of Finnair’s short haul and long haul A350 routes, please visit our A350 Routes Page.


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.