Virgin plans Boeing 747 retirement

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Heathrow, North America, UK, USA, Western Europe | Posted on 18-05-2015

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Virgin 747

Virgin Atlantic has penciled in the retirement of its Boeing 747 fleet.

Unless further changes occur, the final flight will be VS006 from Miami to London Heathrow on 17 April, 2016, arriving on 18 April at 1130am.

This will be a significant moment for the airline, which began services using a Boeing 747-200B in 1984 and has never been without the jumbo ever since. However, today the airline has a growing number of modern types such as the Airbus A330 and Boeing 787, and is still due to receive Airbus A380 superjumbos at some point (they have been deferred by the airline).

So now’s the chance to get a Virgin 747 flight booked if you haven’t yet!

Top 10 airports to number crunch at

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, Asia, China, Dubai, Eastern Europe, Frankfurt, Germany, Heathrow, Japan, Middle East, North America, Turkey, UK, USA, Western Europe | Posted on 30-04-2015

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If you’re the kind of spotter who likes to number crunch… that is, collect aircraft registration (or tail) numbers… then there are certain airports and spotting locations that are made for you. At these locations you’re likely to see lots of aircraft in a short period of time, and make the most numbers in your book possible.

Whilst everyone reading this will live in a different location and probably already have seen the aircraft of certain airlines, hopefully at least some of the airports will be an inspiration of how to make more inroads into filling your logbooks on future spotting trips.

If you have a particular favourite, or would like to suggest another airport, leave a comment below!

 

1. Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson International

 

Atlanta Airport

Atlanta has been for many years the busiest airport in the world. Last year it handled almost 900,000 aircraft movements and, as home to Delta Air Lines, most of them were flown by its aircraft and those of its feeder partners. Southwest Airlines is also a major carrier here, along with a number of interesting international airlines.

Atlanta doesn’t offer any official viewing areas, but for most spotters here the only place to go is the Renaissance Concourse Hotel on the southern perimeter. A room (which will have a balcony) facing the airport on a higher floor will be paradise for plane spotters. It is a bit distant to photograph airliners on anything but the nearest runway, but with good binoculars and the help of flight tracking software you will log hundreds of aircraft registrations each day.

 

2. Dallas Fort Worth

 

Dallas Ft Worth

A huge airport in Texas, with seven runways and a complex of five terminals in the central area. Dallas Fort Worth is the home base of American Airlines, whose fleet of aircraft numbers almost 1,000 including that of regional partner Envoy and the former US Airways fleet. So if you need to add these aircraft to your log books, this airport is a good place to begin as movements are non-stop all day long.

The best place to watch aircraft at Dallas Fort Worth is the official Founders Plaza observation area off Highway 114. You’ll see a lot of aircraft movements from here, but with so many runways it’s hard to catch everything!

You can also do a loop on the Skylink Train monorail which passes all terminals with elevated views over many gate areas.

 

3. Oshkosh Wittman Regional

 

Oshkosh

Oshkosh for most of the year is a quiet regional airport with various general aviation and executive aircraft movements, along with historic aircraft from the interesting EAA Museum on site. However, come here for a week at the end of July each year and you’ll encounter the world’s busiest airport as it plays host to the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh Air Show. In recent years up to 15,000 aircraft have flown into the airport over the course of the air show week, with number crunchers filling multiple notebooks and all available time trying to catch everything! One pro tip is to photograph rows of aircraft and note them down later when you have more time, as logging everything simply becomes too demanding.

Most aircraft visiting Oshkosh during the air show are light aircraft, however you will also see many interesting experimental, historic, military and airliner aircraft in attendance to sweeten the log.

 

4. London Heathrow

 

Airbus A380 at Heathrow's Myrtle Avenue Spotting Location

Airbus A380 approaching Heathrow’s Myrtle Avenue Spotting Location

The busiest airport in the United Kingdom, and one of the busiest airports for international flights. Heathrow is great for its mix of airlines arriving from all over the world. Although there are a lot of European and North American carriers, plus British Airways and Virgin Atlantic aircraft, interesting carriers more than make up for it. The airport is also one of the busiest for Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 aircraft.

There are a number of places to spot around the perimeter, plus the Renaissance Hotel has great views and even does spotter packages! One of the favourite spotting locations when arrivals are from the east is Myrtle Avenue.

 

5. Dubai International

 

Dubai Airport © Dubai Airports

Having newly taken the crown of the busiest international airport in the world from Heathrow (see above), Dubai continues to offer a mouthwatering mix of aircraft from around the world. True, most movements are by the impressive Emirates Airline, with its huge fleet of Airbus A380s and Boeing 777s, but other types from around the Middle East and Asia are fascinating to see and often very rare to the log book.

Spotting can be tricky (and misunderstood) here, so it’s best to find a hotel with a view, such as the excellent Sheraton Deira or the Nojoum Apartments.

 

6. Istanbul Ataturk International

 

Istanbul Spotting

Turkish Airlines’ phenomenal growth over recent years has thrust Istanbul’s two airports into the major leagues. Almost 57 million passengers used the larger Ataturk airport last year, mainly on Turkish Airlines’ flights, but also on a variety of other interesting carriers from around the world. It’s also a great airport for interesting cargo movements, often using some older airliners.

There is a shopping mall alongside one of the runways at Ataturk, with a seating area as part of the food court that overlooks the runway and is close enough to see all movements. Spotters are rarely bothered as long as they buy food and drink. Then, on an evening you can retire to a room at the Radisson Blu hotel, which has rooms overlooking the runway and taxiways.

 

7. Beijing Capital

 

Beijing

With almost 90 million passengers flying through last year, Beijing Capital is teetering on the verge of becoming the busiest in the world. It is certainly the busiest in Asia and China, and an obvious place to make dents into logging aircraft, particularly from the many domestic and regional airlines in China, and the airlines from around the Far East.

Although Capital is due to be superseded by a new airport in the coming years, for the time being it will keep on going, bursting at the seams.

The best place to spot is at the southern end of the airport, where there are a variety of locations just under the approach path to two of the runways. These can be walked to from the terminal, or ask a taxi driver to take you.

 

8. Tokyo Haneda

 

800px-Haneda_Airport_Terminal2_ObservationDeck

Haneda is the busiest airport in Japan, and home to most of the domestic aircraft fleets in the country – namely the ones you are unlikely to see anywhere else in the world… and there are lot of them! In addition to this, the airport is regaining international flights at a good rate after years of living in the shadow of nearby Narita.

The airport has three official observation decks – one on each terminal. These are the best, and easiest, places to spot from to log aircraft. However, the problem with them is that you can’t see all movements from just one deck. So you’ll have to move around a bit. The decks on Terminal 1 and 2 are probably the best.

 

9. Frankfurt Main

 

Frankfurt Terminal 2 Visitors Terrace

Frankfurt is another of Europe’s more interesting airports, and one of the busiest. Like Heathrow it has a really nice mix of international airlines flying in, as well as the fleet of Lufthansa and its partners, plus a variety of charter and low cost airlines.

Spotting at Frankfurt is possible from a few locations, but these are spread out and none is perfect for catching all movements. The observation area on Terminal 2 is good for seeing aircraft on the ground and the main runways. There is also a small viewing area alongside the departure-only runway 18, but you’ll need a taxi or car to get there.

 

10. Van Nuys

 

LosAngeles-VanNuys

Van Nuys Airport is in the north of Los Angeles, in the San Fernando Valley. It doesn’t handle any airline services at present, however it is on of the world’s busiest general aviation airports. It has two parallel runways, and last year handled over 260,000 aircraft movements. General aviation doesn’t just mean light aircraft… Van Nuys also handles a great number of executive movements, with all manner of biz jets.

The best place to spot aircraft at Van Nuys is the dedicated viewing area off Woodley Avenue at the end of Waterman Drive on the eastern side of the airport. You’ll see all runway movements from here.

Wizz Air A321 routes revealed

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Belgium, Eastern Europe, Hungary, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 28-04-2015

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Wizz Air

Wizz Air will shortly take delivery of its second aircraft type, the larger Airbus A321, which will complement its large fleet of A320s.

From November 2015, the type will enter service from its Budapest base on the following routes:

  • Budapest – London Luton – Starts 20 November 2015
  • Budapest – Eindhoven – Starts 16 December 2015
  • Budapest – Brussels Charleroi – Starts 16 December 2015
  • Budapest – Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen – Starts 16 December 2015
  • Budapest – Stockholm Skavsta – Starts 26 February 2016
  • Budapest – Tel Aviv – Starts 26 February 2016
  • Budapest – Alicante – Starts 27 February 2016
  • Budapest – Maastricht – Starts 27 February 2016

The airline has 26 Airbus A321s on order.

In other news, Wizz Air has announced its first flights to Iceland, with a twice-weekly link from Gdansk to Reykjavik starting in July.

Finnair flying the A350 to Europe on familiarisation flights

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Frankfurt, Germany, Heathrow, Miscellaneous Spotting, Spain, Spotting News, Sweden, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 09-04-2015

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A350XWB Finnair

Finnair is due to be the third airline customer of the Airbus A350XWB in September, after Qatar Airways and Vietnam Airlines.

The airline has announced that it will fly the new aircraft between Helsinki and a variety of European destinations on crew familiarisation flights before it begins service on Finnair’s long-haul network.

In addition it will also fly the A350 domestically from Helsinki to Oulu and Rovaniemi as part of the familiarisation schedule.

European destinations include Barcelona, Berlin, Brussels, Copenhagen, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, London Heathrow, Malaga, Paris CDG, Stockholm Arlanda and Vienna.

At the time of writing the following schedule is planned:

Helsinki–Rovaniemi 05-Oct-15 AY421
Rovaniemi–Helsinki 05-Oct-15 AY428
Helsinki–Oulu 05-Oct-15 AY2369
Oulu–Helsinki 05-Oct-15 AY2370
Helsinki–London 06-Oct-15 AY831
London–Helsinki 06-Oct-15 AY840
Helsinki–Frankfurt 07-Oct-15 AY821
Frankfurt–Helsinki 07-Oct-15 AY822
Helsinki–Stockholm (Arlanda) 07-Oct-15 AY645
Stockholm (Arlanda)–Helsinki 07-Oct-15 AY650
Helsinki–Paris 08-Oct-15 AY871
Paris–Helsinki 08-Oct-15 AY890
Helsinki–Copenhagen 08-Oct-15 AY667
Copenhagen–Helsinki 08-Oct-15 AY668
Helsinki–Amsterdam 09-Oct-15 AY841
Amsterdam–Helsinki 09-Oct-15 AY842
Helsinki–Oslo 09-Oct-15 AY659
Oslo–Helsinki 09-Oct-15 AY658
Helsinki–Barcelona 10-Oct-15 AY3271
Barcelona–Helsinki 10-Oct-15 AY3270
Helsinki–Málaga 10-Oct-15 AY735
Málaga–Helsinki 11-Oct-15 AY736
Helsinki–Hamburg 11-Oct-15 AY851
Hamburg–Helsinki 11-Oct-15 AY852
Helsinki–Barcelona 11-Oct-15 AY3269
Barcelona–Helsinki 11-Oct-15 AY3272
Helsinki–Brussels 12-Oct-15 AY811
Brussels–Helsinki 12-Oct-15 AY812
Helsinki–Málaga 12-Oct-15 AY735
Málaga–Helsinki 13-Oct-15 AY736
Helsinki–Berlin 13-Oct-15 AY911
Berlin–Helsinki 13-Oct-15 AY912
Helsinki–Gothenburg 13-Oct-15 AY677
Gothenburg–Helsinki 13-Oct-15 AY674
Helsinki–Düsseldorf 14-Oct-15 AY703
Düsseldorf–Helsinki 14-Oct-15 AY704
Helsinki–Vienna 14-Oct-15 AY767
Vienna–Helsinki 14-Oct-15 AY768
Helsinki–Munich 15-Oct-15 AY803
Munich–Helsinki 15-Oct-15 AY804
Helsinki–London 15-Oct-15 AY995
London–Helsinki 15-Oct-15 AY996
Helsinki–Brussels 16-Oct-15 AY811
Brussels–Helsinki 16-Oct-15 AY812
Helsinki–London 16-Oct-15 AY995
London–Helsinki 16-Oct-15 AY996
Helsinki–Barcelona 17-Oct-15 AY3271
Barcelona–Helsinki 17-Oct-15 AY3270
Helsinki–Málaga 17-Oct-15 AY735
Málaga–Helsinki 18-Oct-15 AY736
Helsinki–Copenhagen 18-Oct-15 AY661
Copenhagen–Helsinki 18-Oct-15 AY666
Helsinki–Barcelona 18-Oct-15 AY3269
Barcelona–Helsinki 18-Oct-15 AY3272

Flights are on sale now from the Finnair website’s A350 page: http://www.finnair.com/a350

 

A350RoutesSidebar

Remember to check out our Airbus A350 Routes Page for details of Finnair’s long-haul destinations, and routes by other A350 airlines.

Heathrow Terminal 4 viewing area – spotting video

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, Heathrow, Spotting Videos, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 03-04-2015

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If you weren’t aware, London Heathrow airport relented recently and installed a new viewing area for plane spotting (here’s our report about its opening). The major drawback, however, was that it is located in the departures section of Terminal 4, so you’ll need an airline ticket to use it. Nevertheless, anything is better than nothing and you can also show up for your flight really early to make sure you get chance to enjoy it.

To give you an idea of what the Terminal 4 viewing area is like, here’s a decent video (by Dantorp Aviation) showing arrivals, departures and aircraft taxiing around the airport as seen from this area. The view is pretty good and you won’t miss much.

CSA to open Stuttgart focus city

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Airport News, Czech Republic, Eastern Europe, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 26-02-2015

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CSA A320

CSA Czech Airlines is slowly emerging from its self-imposed retreat by announcing more expansion and route updates.

Earlier this month the airline announced its return to the UK with a new twice-weekly link to Liverpool from Prague starting on 4th June.

Now, it has announced the inauguration of a focus city at Stuttgart Airport which will commence in May.

A 3x weekly ATR42-500 route from Prague to Stuttgart had already been announced, starting 26th May. But now, on the same day, the airline has said it will start flights from Stuttgart to Bologna, Geneva and Marseilles (via Geneva). All routes will use the ATR42 aircraft.

2Excel’s Boeing 727s at Doncaster

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Miscellaneous Spotting, Spotting Trip Reports, Spotting Videos, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 06-02-2015

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2Excel Aviation now have two former FedEx Express Boeing 727s based at Doncaster Sheffield Airport in the north of England. I was on site yesterday to witness the arrival of the second, G-OSRB, recently painted in the striking red and white colours.

The company’s first aircraft, G-OSRA, was in fact the last Boeing 727 built. Both have been saved from the axe following their retirement by FedEx last year.

Now, the aircraft will be used for oil spill response duties, and also in a cargo carrying capacity.

Enjoy this video of the aircraft at Doncaster.

Dubai to become busiest international airport

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport News, Dubai, Heathrow, Middle East, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 16-01-2015

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Dubai Airport © Dubai Airports

London Heathrow’s long-held crown is about to be passed to a new airport as the old order of things starts to get left behind.

Dubai International Airport is expected to be named the world’s busiest international airport once 2014s statistics are published at the end of January. This is the airport which handles the most passenger traffic from international destinations.

Heathrow has had this title for many years, but has been stagnating as it operates at near 100% capacity, unable to grow any further until more runways and slots are made available.

Yet for Dubai, it can only look up. The existing airport has grown massively alongside hometown Emirates Airline, and has seen a number of expansion projects adding concourses and upgrades to its terminal and runways over recent years. The draw of the region for tourism, commerce and employment has meant many airlines from around the world adding flights to Dubai.

Meanwhile Heathrow has been struggling to cope with demand, with some airlines trading rare landing slots for millions of dollars. Passenger figures have settled with no room to grow, and few chances of adding a new runway in the immediate future as the UK government looks at options.

Although Heathrow will relinquish its ‘busiest international’ title, it is still expected to remain marginally busier than Dubai in total passengers handled.

Dubai is planning much greater growth. The new Dubai World Central (Al Maktoum) airport will eventually take over as the main international airport, with a planned five runways. In addition, Emirates Airlines’ growth continues with many more Airbus A380s and other widebody aircraft scheduled to join the fleet in the near future.

KLM to arrive in Ireland

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Airport News, Ireland, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 06-01-2015

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KLM Fokker 70 at Durham Tees Valley

KLM is to begin its first flights to Ireland in May when it commences a new Belfast service.

George Best Belfast City Airport is the only airport in the UK or Ireland included in expansion plans announced today by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines who will commence a daily service to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport from May 2015 providing greater access to global destinations through KLM’s extensive network.

Belfast City Airport’s Commercial and Marketing Director, Katy Best, said: “Attracting an airline such as KLM to Northern Ireland, is a major win for the airport, tourism within the region and local businesses who will benefit from KLM’s worldwide network.”

KLM ANNOUNCES ARRIVAL TO NORTHERN IRELAND

The airport, situated in Belfast’s docklands, competes against the larger Belfast International Airport 18 miles to the west. Attracting an airline such as KLM is a majour coup and will no doubt attract a lot of business passenger to the city, and a lot of outbound travellers onto KLM’s worldwide network.

2014’s most popular Airport Spotting posts

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Africa, Airline News, Airport News, Asia, Australasia, Australia, Eastern Europe, Germany, Ghana, Heathrow, India, Indonesia, Miscellaneous Spotting, Spotting News, Turkey, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 27-12-2014

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MostPopular2014

With 2014 coming to an end and lots to look forward to next year, I wanted to revisit some of our most popular articles from the past year.

These have all had the most views, shares and comments.

What has been your aviation or spotting highlight of 2014? Leave a comment below!

 

 

Spotting News

Jakarta Airport FM7 Spotting Hotel
This new spotting hotel was a welcome addition to one of the most interesting airports for spotters to visit.

Guide to aviation and spotting in India
Spotting is notoriously difficult and misunderstood in India, so I put together this guide on what to expect and where to spot in this huge country.

Sydney to close observation deck
Sad new for spotters this year when Sydney’s International Terminal observation deck closed. But all was not lost.

Heathrow opens new viewing area
Few saw this coming – Heathrow opening an official viewing area again! But there was a catch…

ex-Ghana DC-10 turned into a restaurant
A former Ghana Airways Douglas DC-10 has been converted into a restaurant next to the main international airport.

BLOC Hotel Gatwick – Spotting Hotel Review
London’s second busiest airport got a new spotting hotel. I visited this summer and reported here on the excellent views and opportunities.

9 top spotting airports to reach by budget airline
This little guide offers some inspiration on the major international airports that are great to spot at, and also easily reached by budget airlines, helping keep the cost down.

 

BrazilThemeWeek

Airline and Aircraft News

SunExpress expand with up to 50 Boeing 737 order
A large order for aircraft from the joint German/Turkish leisure airline SunExpress.

Farnborough Air Show Orders Summary
This year’s Farnborough Air Show brought an unprecedented number of aircraft orders from around the world. We put a summary together here.

Brazil World Cup Special Liveries
This year’s Football World Cup in Brazil brought a number of special airline liveries. See them here!

McDonnell Douglas MD-11 Farewell
The final passenger MD-11 flights took place in 2014. In this farewell piece we look at the history or the aircraft and where you can still see them flying today.