TAAG Angola aims to develop Luanda into large hub

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Africa, Airline News, Airport News, Belgium, Brazil, China, Dubai, France, Heathrow, Italy, Middle East, Portugal, South America, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 01-04-2014

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TAAG_777-3M2ERTAAG Angola Airlines is planning to turn its Luanda Airport base into a hub to link Central Africa with worldwide destinations in association with Emirates Airline.

TAAG is currently on the EU banned airline list, but it is hoped it will emerge soon and begin expanding its connections to Europe, including Amsterdam, Brussels, Lisbon, London Heathrow, Paris CDG, and Rome Fiumicino.

Luanda will also be linked through Dubai via Emirates, who will also take on TAAG’s links to Beijing, Rio de Janeiro, and Sao Paulo.

A new airport is being built at Luanda which will be able to handle this increased traffic, and match modern standards expected at airports.

Spotting at Porto Airport

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, Portugal, Spotting Trip Reports, Western Europe | Posted on 05-02-2014

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Porto AirportI recently had the chance to visit Porto Airport in northern Portugal. Whilst at the airport on the return journey, I checked out the opportunities for spotting from within and around the terminal. Here’s what I found.

Outside the terminal the roadway curves up to the departures area on the first floor. At either end, you can get a limited view of the airfield and see aircraft distant on the runway. You will miss most of what is parked at the terminal, however.

Before heading through to departures, there are no views of aircraft from within the terminal.

Once you have reached the departures area, Porto’s modern glass terminal is ideal for viewing the aircraft on the ground. Walking the length of the departures area reveals all aircraft parked at the gates, which are mainly parked nose in or on remote stands a short distance away.

Porto Departures area

From the northern end of the building you have a view along the cargo ramp. Aircraft parked on the opposite side of the runway, such as the DHL Boeing 757 on my visit, are a little too distant to easily read off.

Anything that moves on the runway is easily visible from the departures area.

Air France 747 at Porto

Porto’s traffic is made up primarily of TAP Portugal, Portugalia, and Ryanair aircraft. A number of European scheduled and low cost airlines also fly to the airport. On my visit, cargo movements included the DHL 757, a Swiftair ATR, and an Air France Cargo 747-400.

Porto is a Ryanair hub

The airport has a single runway, and a large modern terminal with jet bridges, and a lower floor area for walking to aircraft which is used by Ryanair.

Vueling starting Brussels base

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Airport News, Belgium, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Western Europe | Posted on 07-11-2013

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This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license.Spanish low-cos carrier Vueling will open a new base at Brussels Airport in May 2014.

The carrier already operates four routes from the airport, and will commence seven new ones to Rome, Lisbon, Oporto, Venice, Santiago de Compostela, Ibiza and Palma when the base opens.

 

Scary runways around the world

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Asia, Eastern Europe, France, Greece, Portugal, Spain, Western Europe | Posted on 22-06-2013

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Faith Norris from LowCostHolidays.com has written this run-down of some of the scariest runways around the world. How many have you flown to?

 

Scary Runways around the World

Flying can be a turbulent experience for some, especially the take-off and landing. However, the thrill of arriving at an exciting and fun location means that most of us are keen fliers who love knowing we’re just hours away from dream destinations. So, fasten your seatbelts, and let’s look at five of the shortest and scariest runways around the world.

 

Madeira Airport Runway - credit futureshapeSanta Catarina, Madeira, FNC

The international airport on Madeira Island is known as Funchal Airport, located just 13km from the Funchal Cathedral. The runway is 9000 ft. long and the landing process is not a straight forward descent. With the Atlantic Ocean to one side of the runway and sheer mountains to the other, the pilot has to direct the plane towards these mountains before making a last minute turn to land on this short runway. The airport opened in 1964, when the runway was just 5,200 ft., before being revamped in the 21st century. Once landed on this beautiful Portuguese island, tourists can enjoy exploring towns such as Funchal and Canico, taking stunning mountainous walks, as well as visiting excellent beaches. The southern location of the island means that the weather on Madeira is great all year round.  Click here for information on Madeira hotels and to find out more about the island.

 

Nepal Airport - credit ilkerenderTenzing Hillary, Nepal, LUA

Also known as Lukla, the Himalayan airport is renowned for having one of the most feared runways in the world. Built on a steep incline in the middle of the Himalayan Mountains, it’s a mere 1500 ft. long and 65 ft. wide! There is no room for error when landing as you approach the runway, winding your way through mountain peaks and clouds. The take-off is just as daunting, accelerating at full speed down the runway before reaching a 9000 foot drop into the valley. The airport is usually quite a busy place as it’s the starting point for people trekking to the Khumbu and the Mount Everest Base Camps.

 

Courchevel Airport - credit pr1001Corcheval, France, CVF

The airport at Corcheval in the French Alps has a steep runway, with a gradient of 18%, a length of just 1700 ft. and a vertical drop at the end. The weather conditions throw another spanner in the works, with snow, wind and ice making for a challenging landing at the best of times. As pilots approach to land they have to carefully manoeuvre between the snowy valleys and mountains, this can only be performed by specially trained pilots. As well as being rather dangerous, the airport also has another claim to fame; filming for the James Bond film, Tomorrow Never Dies took place here. Even Pierce Brosnan must have been slightly scared! To calm your nerves, make a detour at the après-ski bar in the airport, grab a hot chocolate or a shot of schnapps to really warm you through, as you watch the planes attempt the awkward landing. Once sufficiently settled after the nerve-racking land, tighten those ski boots, click on your skis and carve up the piste.

 

Heraklion, Crete, HER

Heraklion airport, also known as Nikos Kazantzakis, is the second busiest airport in Greece after Athens. It was first opened in March 1939 where it was simply a flat area of agricultural land. It wasn’t until 1953 that it had a concrete runway measuring a mere 5,100 ft. Over the years, the airport has had a number of improvements, with terminals being built as well as the runway being extended to 8,000 ft. It operates to 102 destinations in 27 countries offering stunning views of the island as you fly over the Mediterranean Sea. In 2012 over forty thousand flights arrived and departed the airport. Unfortunately, it’s requested that photographs or videos are not to be taken, as the airport is the base for the Hellenic Air Force. Fear not, as once you’ve landed, there will be plenty of opportunities to take your holiday snaps. The island has a lot to offer, with sandy beaches, shallow waters and a vibrant nightlife. Discover more information and places to stay in Crete here.

 

Fuerteventura, Canary Islands, FUE

The runway at Fuerteventura airport, also known as El Matorral, is 7000 ft. long and requires a skilled pilot to land safely on the short stretch. It reaches out to 66 destinations in 11 countries and caters to millions of tourists every year; 5 million in 2012! Built in the 1960s, and next to the Atlantic Ocean, it gives passengers a stunning view as they arrive in Puerto del Rosario, the island’s capital. As you come in to land, you’ll notice the lunar landscape and golden sand dunes. Once you’ve touched down, head to the coast to try out water sports activities, such as windsurfing and kite surfing, taking advantage of the strong winds and great waves. Corralejo and Costa Calma are both popular resorts, with long sandy beaches and excellent restaurants. To experience the landing and explore the island, find accommodation in Fuerteventura here.

 

Even though you may have to overcome some minor panic, the destination will make the flying experience worthwhile, and you’ll have some great stories to tell your friends if you spend time one of these iconic runways. Buckle up and enjoy your travels.

7 Most Bizarre Airport Runways

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Asia, Caribbean, France, Japan, Portugal, Sint Maarten, Thailand, Western Europe | Posted on 30-11-2012

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David Eaves at Private Jet Charter has compiled this great selection of some of the most bizarre airport runways around the world.

How many of them have you travelled to? Are they as crazy in an aircraft as they look from the outside?

 

1. Funchal Airport’s Extended Runway

Above: When engineers were looking for a viable way to extend Funchal Airport’s dangerously brief runway, they cleverly opted to ‘rest’ the enormous structure on 180 pillars, each measuring 230ft, rather than using landfill to support the strip. – more info.

2. Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport runway

Image Source

Above: This is the only airport on the Caribbean island of Saba and because it is so short it is extremely difficult for even very experienced pilots to land on. – more info.

3. Princess Juliana International Airport runway

Above: The beach pictured can be found on the island of Saint Martin in the Caribbean and is unfortunately located directly underneath the landing path of planes approaching the airport runway.

 

4. Gibraltar Airport’s Runway

Image source

Above: This airport runway located in Gibraltar is one of the only airport runways to intersect a public road. The runway operates similarly to a train crossing so traffic is put on hold whilst planes take off.

 

5. Don Mueang International Airport Runway

Above: The bizarre thing about the runways at this Bangkok airport is that there is about this an 18 hole golf course situated between the two different runways.

 

6. Courchevel Airport Runway

Above: Courchevel Airport is a French airport that serves Courchevel, which is located in a ski area in the French Alps mountain. The airport has a very short runway of only 525 m (1,722 ft) with gradient of 18.5%. – more info.

 

7. Kobe Airport Runway

Above: The picture above is of one of Japan’s custom made runways on an artificial island just off the coast of Kobe which can be seen on Google maps. More info can be found on Wikipedia.

Volotea bringing growth to Europe’s mid-size cities

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Czech Republic, Eastern Europe, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Spotting News, Western Europe | Posted on 22-04-2012

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(c) Volotea Airlines

Volotea Airlines seems to have sprung up from nowhere, in no time at all. But if its ambitious growth plans are realised, it will quickly become one of Europe’s main low-cost airlines.

Flying a fleet of seven Boeing 717 aircraft, sourced second-hand from the manufacturer, Volotea is positioning itself to serve small- and mid-sized cities across Europe initially from bases in Venice Marco Polo (Italy), Nantes (France), and Ibiza (Spain).

The airline is run by former founding members of Vueling Airlines, and has its corporate headquarters in Barcelona.

Volotea’s first flight took off on 5th April from Venice, bound for Palermo – one of the 76 routes announced by the airline, and one of a number of domestic routes within Italy – set to challenge the dominance of Alitalia and Ryanair in this much sought-after market.

In fact, Venice Marco Polo will clearly be the bigger base initially, with 24 routes planned.

The airline will not initially venture as far north as the UK, Ireland or Scandinavia, choosing to focus on Italy, Spain, France, Greece, Portugal, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary and Poland.

The choice of Boeing 717 is interesting for a low-cost airline, but is likely due to the cheap prices of sourcing them, and the regard with which they’ve been held in Spain over the past ten years. Nevertheless, for the enthusiast, this offers another chance to fly on the relatively rare type in Boeing’s stable (Blue1 is currently the only other European operator of the type).

All going well, the airline is likely to expand into other territories fairly soon, but I also suspect some routes will be non-starters, and others will see frequency changes. For a full list of planned routes, see Volotea’s homepage http://www.volotea.com/en/destinations/

Best of the web – Airport Spotting Videos – Funchal, Madeira

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Miscellaneous Spotting, Portugal, Western Europe | Posted on 15-03-2012

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I often come across fantastic videos of airport action on the web. These are often from popular spotting locations at different airports around the world, and in many cases show some extreme landings, takeoffs, weather or unusual aircraft.

This video is from AviationChannel2010′s collection and shows some windy landings at Funchal Airport on Madeira, including light aircraft,  commuters, and big airliners. It even has a go-around.