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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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!
Norwegian’s relentless push into new bases and new markets could take an even bigger step next year as it plans a possible new base which would give low-cost access to South America and the Caribbean.
The airline is looking at opening a new base at Las Palmas in the Canary Islands, which puts its Boeing 737s – and especially the future 737MAX fleet – in easy reach of destinations such as Brazil and the various holiday islands of the Caribbean.
Norwegian is currently suffering set backs in its plans to establish an Irish subsidiary which would offer low-cost flights to America from the island with its Boeing 787 Dreamliners. However, given that it already operates a number of Spanish bases and would bring about significant employment and income to the country with this new venture, it seems more likely to succeed should it go ahead.
This could open up a lot of opportunities for cheap, one-stop flights to destinations which are usually quite expensive to get to, and offers an interesting alternative to the full service airlines flying the routes.
Iberia and its partner Iberia Express will launch 13 new routes in the summer 2015 season.
The airlines will operate non-stop flights from Madrid to Florence, Naples, Palermo, Catania and Verona in Italy, Manchester and Edinburgh in the UK, Hamburg in Germany, Funchal in Madeira, Portugal, and Budapest in Hungary.
They will also launch non-stop flights from Asturias to Tenerife in the Canary Islands, from Madrid to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris and from Madrid to London Gatwick.
In addition the airlines will add 65 weekly flights to 24 existing Spanish, European and long-haul routes
Luis Gallego, Iberia’s Chairman and CEO, commented that “The introduction of additional routes and frequencies in such a competitive short- and medium-haul market is an indication of the effectiveness of our cost-cutting measures, and also of the quality of the new product and services that we offer our customers.”
The new routes and additional frequencies follow the eight destinations launched by Iberia in 2014 (Montevideo, Santo Domingo, Amsterdam, Athens, Hanover, Istanbul, Stockholm and Stuttgart), the capacity increase to Panama City and Santiago in Chile, as well as the summer destinations operated by the airline (St. Petersburg, Ibiza, Dubrovnik and Zagreb)
Many of the most enjoyable spotting trips are when you can relax in the sun or take photos in a stunning locations. A lot of the world’s airports and runways back onto beaches, which turn out to be great spotting locations.
All of the locations listed here are accessible, public places.
1. Phuket, Thailand
By Andy Mitchell (Flickr: Transaero Airlines B747-300SR VP-BGW) [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Thailand’s holiday island is popular with many airlines arriving from near and far, including both domestic and long-haul airliners. Probably the best location to spot at the airport is Nai Yang Beach running along the western side of the airport, which is accessed by walking around 15 minutes from the road.
Any aircraft approaching runway 09 can be easily photographed, and by finding an area of high ground you can also see over the perimeter fence and photograph aircraft on the ground easily.
One of the best spots for photography and plane spotting at Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport is The Beach off General Holmes Drive, at the east side of the airport.
You can spot here from both the car park and the beach itself, with aircraft using the runways in view, especially 16R/34L which passes very close to you and can lead to some spectacular photographs.
3. St. Maarten, Caribbean
Air France A340-300 landing at St Maarten. (c) Yasu To
Not much can be written about Maho Beach that hasn’t already been said. Some of the most stunning aviation photography in recent times has been of aircraft passing incredibly low over the heads of people on this beach, on the island of St. Maarten in the Caribbean. This is especially fun since huge widebody airliners use the airport, and tend to land as early as possible, barely missing the perimeter fence.
The bar on the beach is known to list the arrivals due at the airport each day, meaning you can keep an eye on what’s due as you sip cocktails and soak up the sun.
4. Larnaca, Cyprus
Mackenzie Beach lies just off the northern perimeter of Larnaca Airport, with aircraft passing close by before landing or after takeoff. You can reach the beach off Piale Pasa, at the southern end of the city.
5. Lanzarote, Canary Islands
When aircraft are arriving on runway 03, the beach running around the southern portion of the airport is an ideal position to spot and photograph aircraft arriving at Lanzarote Arrecife Airport. Due to the position of the sun, this location is best in the morning for photography, and a fence can obstruct some shots of aircraft on the ground. But if you’re just watching the action it is perfect.
The location is reached along Avenida Playa Honda.
6. Boston Logan, MA
By James Wang from Boston, Mass, USA (British Airways 747 (Oneworld livery)) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
There are actually two beaches at Boston Logan Airport which are good for spotting.
Constitution Beach is best for aircraft using runways 22L and 22R, and the taxiways associated with these runways. You can get some good action shots of aircraft arriving and departing. Better in the afternoon and evening for photography. This beach is close to Saratoga Street.
Meanwhile, Yirrel Beach at Coughlin Park is great for aircraft approaching runway 27, and to a lesser degree departing runway 09. This location is good all day for photography. The park and beach are off Shirley Street, with parking nearby.
7. Nice, France
Not the best beach for aircraft photography, however the very popular area running the length of the Promenade des Anglais in Nice offers quite interesting views of aircraft departing from the nearby airport. Aircraft need to make an immediate turn to the right following departure, following the sweep of the bay. There are few main airports situated this close to the city they serve.
8. New York JFK
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge off Cross Bay Blvd is a well known spotting location at New York JFK, alongside Howard Beach, which is good for getting distant after-takeoff shots of heavy airliners as they make a turn.
Do you know of any good beach spotting locations? Leave a tip in the comments section below!
CSA Czech Airlines has announced a bunch of new routes starting next year, following a period of cutting back and introspection over recent years.
The new routes to be opened by the airline are:
Prague – Bilbao – A319 (Starts 1 June 2015)
Prague – Billund – ATR42 (Starts 29 March 2015)
Prague – Bologna – ATR72 (Starts 29 March 2015)
Prague – Cork – A319 (Starts 14 May 2015)
Prague – Kaliningrad – ATR72 (Starts 29 March 2015)
Prague – Kazan – A319 (Starts 29 March 2015)
Prague – Oslo – A319 (Starts 30 March 2015)
The airline said:
“After a year of cutbacks, we plan to expand the existing Czech Airlines’ network starting the 2015 summer season. We feel that there is a significant business potential in our new destinations which we would like to use fully. At the same time, we would like to capitalise on Czech Airlines great reputation in the Russian market and, effective April 2015, service a total of nine destinations in Russia,” said Jozef Sinčák, Chairman of Czech Airlines Board of Directors, and added: “We have set the new destinations timetables in a way to best use the market potential and at the same time appeal to both local and transfer passengers as the connections were designed with the customers’ priorities in mind. We will operate all new destinations using the existing free capacity of Czech Airlines and thus improve the fleet use.”
Spotting isn’t the cheapest hobby, especially if you want to do a lot of it. So I thought I’d look at a few of the best spotting airports that are easily accessible by budget airlines. Hopefully it’ll give you some inspiration for your next trips!
Palma is one of the busiest holiday airports in Europe, particularly during the summer months. Airlines ferry holidaymakers in droves from all over northern Europe, so you’ll see charter and low-cost airlines as well as Spanish regional aircraft. Palma is a big base for Air Berlin, and plenty of other budget airlines also fly there year-round, including easyJet, Ryanair and Vueling.
Amsterdam Schiphol, Netherlands
By Aero Icarus from Zürich, Switzerland [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Although it is one of Europe’s busiest and largest airports, and is also a stronghold of national airline KLM, Schiphol is surprisingly easy to get to by budget airline. easyJet links many destinations across Europe, whilst Flybe and Jet2 link a number of additional points in the UK.
Photo by Calvin Teo
A major Asian powerhouse and the hub of the large Singapore Airlines. Changi is also on the route map of many low cost and budget airlines, including home-based Jetstar Asia, Tigerair and Valuair, plus regional carriers Air Asia and Lion Air. Long haul low-cost flights are provided by Jetstar and Scoot to destinations across Asia and Australia.
Dubai International, UAE
You may think of Emirates when you think of Dubai, but the second largest carrier at the Middle East hub is Flydubai, a budget airline serving destinations across Africa, the Middle East, Indian subcontinent They even fly into Europe. It makes a more affordable way to reach the airport for some spotting.
Atlanta Hartsfield International, GA
Atlanta was known as the busiest airport in the world for many years, largely because of the huge presence of Delta Air Lines reaching across the globe and to many points across the United States. However, the airport’s second largest carrier is Southwest Airlines following its acquisition of Airtran. This means you can get to Atlanta from destinations across America at great prices.
Dallas Ft Worth, TX
Another US airport which is dominated by a home based legacy carrier – in this case American Airlines – you may be surprised to find that you have good budget options that don’t require a trip to nearby Love Field. Spirit Airlines recently announced a number of new routes from Dallas to regional and leisure destinations to add to its existing network from the airport.
Warsaw Chopin, Poland
The capital of Poland is a major hub for budget carrier Wizz Air which fights bitterly with full service national carrier LOT. You can also reach Warsaw via carriers Norwegian, Air Berlin, Germanwings and Vueling.
Moscow Domodedovo, Russia
By Milad A380 (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
For years it was only possible to reach Moscow via traditional full service airlines, or one of Aeroflot’s classic Soviet airliners. However, recent agreements have led to a number of low cost airlines from outside Russia offering flights to Domodedovo. Most significant perhaps is easyJet, which flies from two points in the UK. Other budget airlines flying to Moscow include Air Berlin, Germania, Niki, Meridiana fly, Vueling and Air Arabia.
St Maarten, Caribbean
A spotters paradise which is on the bucket list of many who like to photograph airliners at close quarters. But it’s not necessary to spend mega bucks getting there with big airlines, particularly from North America, since budget airlines such as Jetblue, Sun Country and Westjet fly regularly to the island.
Old news you might think – Ryanair has operated bases at Rome Ciampino and Brussels Charleroi for years. But now the airline has announced bases at both of the cities’ primary airports – Fiumicino and Zaventem respectively.
This comes shortly after the announcement by Vueling of its new base at Rome Fiumicino, and seems to be part of a bid by low cost airlines to wipe out ailing Alitalia on its home turf.
In Ryanair’s case, it is starting five new routes from Fiumicino, including Barcelona, Brussels Zaventem, Catania, Lamezia Terme, and Palermo.
At Brussels, it is starting ten new routes, which include: Alicante, Barcelona, Ibiza, Lisbon, Malaga, Palma de Mallorca, Porto, Rome Fiumicino, Valencia, and Venice Treviso.
The Rome base will start in December, and Brussels in February.
Will we see more big airports covered by Ryanair in the near future? It has made no secret that it is targeting business passengers these days and trying to improve its public image, so it is likely it will go where it can achieve these aims. Stay tuned.