Kuwait Airways orders Airbus jets

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Kuwait, Middle East | Posted on 09-12-2013

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A320neo Kuwait AirwaysKuwait Airways will undergo a fleet renewal after ordering 25 Airbus jets.

The order comprises ten A350-900 wide bodies, and 15 A320neo aircraft.

“The Airbus Family is the ideal choice for an airline like ours,” said Kuwait Airways acting Chairman Mr Jassar Al Jassar. “The A350-900 will strengthen our long haul route development whilst the A320neo will further boost our regional route network. These aircraft are an essential part of our ambitious growth plans.”

The carrier already operates three A320, three A310, five A300 and four A340 Family aircraft.

Lasham stored aircraft log

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport News, Spotting News, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 08-12-2013

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I like to try and keep track of the stored aircraft at various airfields, and the Kemble page is particularly popular.

Other airports include Moscow Domodedovo, Summerside, Canada, and Coventry.

I have now included a Lasham page. View it here.

I can only keep these up-to-date if people send in their log and news from these airfields. I’d also love to include more if you can provide information. Please get in touch if so!

Pan Am closed 22 years ago today

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Miscellaneous Spotting, North America, USA | Posted on 04-12-2013

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On 4th December 1991 the world lost one of the most significant airlines to ever grace the skies – Pan American World Airways, or Pan Am for short.

Founded in 1927 as Pan American Airways, the airline was taken over by the enterprising Juan Trippe – a former US Navy Reserve bomber pilot who had become obsessed with aviation, and been involved in a number of early startup airlines.

It went on to dominate routes across the Caribbean, Latin America and South America, taking over local airlines to fly its growing network. It famously flew flying boat ‘Clippers’ – inspiring the practice of naming each aircraft in the fleet after a Clipper.

During the 1940s emphasis turned away from seaplanes with the addition of Boeing 377 Stratocruisers, Douglas DC-3s, and DC-4s, and Lockheed Lodestars. The wartime requirements led to the development of a number of long distance routes which truly set the airline up for its future round-the-world coverage. These included DC-4 routes to Iran and Russia via South America and Africa, and also to Curtiss C-46 routes to China via India.

Given the enormous pressure to keep up with competitors both in the USA and Europe, Pan Am felt it needed to be an early adopter of the jet age. It became the launch customer of the Boeing 707, ordering 20 examples in October 1955, and also ordered 25 Douglas DC-8s. The 707 arrived first, entering service to London on 26 October 1958. The airline became a truly global brand as the 1960s passed, and soon the airline’s next most significant moment came when Trippe put the entire company on the line in order to purchase 25 of Boeing’s new ‘jumbo’ airliner, the 747, on 13 April 1966.

Pan Am 747 (c) Eduard MarmetAn early development by Trippe, and Pan Am, was the development of the business jet. The Dassault Falcon 20 was acquired as a lower-cost means of business travellers reaching destinations not served by airlines at their own requested times.

A series of unfortunate incidents in the 1980s signalled the beginning of the end for Pan Am. First, the airline’s financial situation had begun to worsen, and the airline’s new president started selling off assets in order to reduce the mounting debt. Then, on 21 December, 1988, Boeing 747-121 N739PA Clipper Maid of the Seas was bombed over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing all aboard.

Two years later the 1990-91 Persian Gulf War took its toll on the world, and the impact on fuel prices and demand for air travel, proved to be the final nail in the coffin for Pan Am.

Although a number of reincarnations have appeared over the past 22 years, all wearing the familiar blue titles and globe logo, none have managed to recapture the spirit of the airline, or even succeed.

Airlines of the USAI flew Pan Am on two flights, both operated by Boeing 727-200 aircraft, on the Miami-Nassau route, and remember them with affection. I also remember seeing the huge Boeing 747s with the billboard titles at London Heathrow as a child, and still find it very sad that the airline failed.

Extracts from this piece are taken from my book Airlines of the USA, available here.

American Airlines US Airways merger date set

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Miscellaneous Spotting, North America, USA | Posted on 29-11-2013

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American US Airways mergerIt has been announced that AMR, the parent company of American Airlines, will emerge from Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection on 9th December following a lengthy period of reorganisation.

On the same day the airline will formally merge with US Airways.

The move will form the world’s largest airline, and see aircraft painted into the colours of American, with existing bases and route structures gradually merged.

Ryanair opening Rome and Brussels bases

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Airport News, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Western Europe | Posted on 28-11-2013

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Ryanair MarrakechOld 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.

Gatwick Bloc hotel offers spotting opportunities

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport News, Airport Spotting Guide, Spotting Hotels, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 27-11-2013

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Gatwick Bloc HotelLondon Gatwick Airport has become notoriously difficult to spot at since the viewing terraces closed in 2002. However, a solution is imminent in the form of a new hotel due to open early next year.

The Bloc Hotel has been constructed on the site of the former terraces, atop the South Terminal. As a result, guests can expect views from some of the rooms to be similar to the views that used to be enjoyed in the old days of spotting at the airport.

Other rooms will face the approach to the runway.

The Bloc Hotel is due to open in April 2014, and is keen to welcome spotters. It will offer a special day rate for viewing aircraft and using the hotel’s facilities between 7am-4pm.

Keep an eye on the Bloc Hotel website here.

Ryanair granted Russia flights

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Eastern Europe, Ireland, Russia, Western Europe | Posted on 25-11-2013

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RyanairRyanair has been granted access to fly to Russia from its Dublin base, following the likes of easyJet which started flying from the UK this year.

Flights are likely to start in March 2014, flying from Dublin to both Moscow and St. Petersburg using Boeing 737-800 aircraft.

The Moscow airport to be used has not yet been decided, although Vnukovo is a firm favourite amongst experts.

Vueling adds Rome Fiumicino base

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Airport News, Eastern Europe, Germany, Greece, Italy, Malta, Netherlands, Spain, Spotting News, Western Europe | Posted on 21-11-2013

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This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license.Hot off the heels of its announcement about creating a hub at Brussels, Vueling has come up trumps again with the announcement that Rome Fiumicino Airport will also become a base from Summer 2014.

This time the airline is adding a massive 24 new routes from Rome.

This will no doubt capitalise on the struggling Alitalia and its own network from Rome, as Vueling are targeting both domestic and international routes.

The new routes are:

  • Alicante
  • Amsterdam
  • Athens
  • Bari
  • Berlin
  • Brindisi
  • Brussels
  • Catania
  • Corfu
  • Dubrovnik
  • Genoa
  • Heraklion
  • Lamezia
  • Malta
  • Munich
  • Mykonos
  • Palermo
  • Prague
  • Rhodes
  • Santiago de Compostela
  • Santorini
  • Seville
  • Split
  • Torino

The airline already operates from Rome to Barcelona, Ibiza, Malaga, Mahon, Nantes, Palma de Mallorca, Paris Orly, and Valencia.

Iran planning to build its own airliner

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Iran, Middle East, Miscellaneous Spotting | Posted on 20-11-2013

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Sanction-ridden Iran has announced plans to develop its own passenger aircraft which will be capable of flying domestic segments between the country’s airports.

Currently Iranian carriers are banned from purchasing new aircraft or spare parts from Western manufacturers, and are often forced to keep ageing airliners flying long past their years, or source them through various unofficial channels.

However, now Manouchehr Manteghi, the head of Iran’s aviation organization has said the country will develop the 150-seat “Iran 141″ aircraft, which it aims to have in service by 2017. The aircraft will be designed to operate sectors of around one hour, and will be operated by the country’s various airlines.

Iran is not new to aircraft manufacturing, having purchased rights to license-build Antonov AN-140 aircraft (named Iran-140), with the first example being completed in 2003.

WestJet starting flights to Ireland

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Canada, Ireland, North America, Western Europe | Posted on 18-11-2013

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Westjet 737-MAX7 ArtworkWestJet will open its first transatlantic route from next summer, linking Toronto with Dublin in Ireland.

The route will operate daily between 15 June and 4 October, with a stop in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

A Boeing 737-700 will be used on the route.