Dubai Airport Terminal 1 refurbishment

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport News, Dubai, Middle East | Posted on 14-01-2013


Dubai Airport Terminal 1Dubai Airport is to start refurbishing its Terminal 1 building in the next couple of months.

The oldest terminal building at Dubai Airport is in need of improvements to the passenger experience and baggage system.

A new baggage screening process will greatly improve passenger flow by eliminating a queuing point, reducing the time it takes passengers to move from the forecourt in Terminal 1 to the departure gates. The additional space created by streamlined baggage process will be used to transform the departures hall into a more spacious and welcoming environment and when combined with upgraded wayfinding signage, provide a more easily accessible building for the travelling public.

The refurbishment programme also includes the reconfigured and expanded arrivals hall.

Once the refurbishment of Terminal 1 is complete, it will be linked via a new elevated train system to Concourse D, which is currently under construction. Concourse D will become the new home of the more than 100 airlines that fly to and from Dubai International when it opens in 2015.

Palma Airport Nearby Attractions – Son Bonet

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, Spain, Western Europe | Posted on 09-01-2013


Palma Son BonetContinuing my look at what aviation attractions you can find close by popular airports for spotting, in this post I’m looking at Palma Airport on the Spanish island of Mallorca.

Palma is one of Europe’s busiest holiday airports, packed full of leisure and low cost airlines. Given its near constant sun, it’s a favourite amongst spotters and photographers.

However, also on the island is another small airport worth visiting.

Son Bonet Aerodrome is the original airport for Palma de Mallorca, opening in the 1920s. It grew as a mixed military and civil airport, until it could expand no further and the current airport took over in the late 1950s.

Son Bonet today is used for general aviation, flight training, and some executive flights. It is easy to get to, only around five miles from the main airport, and even closer to the city.

At its main entrance, a preserved Douglas DC-3, EC-EJB, stands guard. In the north west corner of the airfield, a group of Antonov An-2 aircraft have been stored for some time. The aerodrome has a single runway, with all ramps and hangars on the north side of the runway.

Spotting at the aerodrome is possible from the roads around the perimeter, but airside access is rarely granted.

Hawaiian Airlines orders Airbus A321neos

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, North America, USA | Posted on 07-01-2013


Hawaiian Airlines has made a move to open up new markets and modernise its fleet by ordering 16 Airbus A321neo aircraft.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed that will see the aircraft delivered between 2017 and 2020, with options on an additional nine examples.

“Everyone at Hawaiian wants us to keep our position as the market leader in service quality, cost efficiency and choice of destinations. Ordering the A321neo will secure this legacy on routes to the U.S. West Coast beyond the middle of this decade,” said Mark Dunkerley, president and CEO of Hawaiian Airlines. “The A321neo will be the most fuel-efficient aircraft of its type after its introduction in 2016. With its slightly smaller size we’ll be able to open new markets that are not viable for wide-body service, while also being able to augment service on existing routes to the West Coast of North America.”

Hawaiian’s existing orders include an additional 13 new A330s between 2013 and 2015, and six next-generation, longer-range A350XWB-800 aircraft starting in 2017. The existing fleet of 16 Boeing 767s will phase out over the next 10 years.

Spotting Trip Report: Manila, Philippines

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, Asia, Philippines | Posted on 06-01-2013


View from the Remington Hotel in ManilaHere’s a guest post from a recent trip to Manila in the Philippines, during which an opportunity was taken to enjoy some time spotting.

A business trip to Manila at the end of November provided some opportunities for spotting. I pre-booked the Marriott hotel near Terminal 3 (domestic terminal) but this hotel is quite expensive (near 200 Euro a night).

Just before I left for Manila I received some good information about the Remington Hotel. The views from here would be much better. Also important was that the hotel is much cheaper! I paid 63 Euro for a room. So, I cancelled the Marriott and booked the Remington.
The hotel opened last year on 11-11-2011 at 11:00 hrs and is much closer to the action, next to the Philippine Air Force Museum and has a free shuttle to the terminals that runs regularly.

The info I had was to get a room on the 5th floor or higher with an airport view. Well, upon arrival they gave me the 10th floor with room number 10009. This room is the middle and any room number between 10073-10068, or 10009-10017, face the airport and have good views. This goes for any floors from 5 up with same numbers. Beware, the room numbers are not logically numbered. From the hall near room 10073 you can have a good look at the PhilAF-museum (facing east).

Room 10009 had two 140cm beds, was very clean, and on all levels vending machines have snacks, cold drinks (25php) and cold water bottles (20php). Downstairs opposite the reception is a buffet breakfast at 420php, and for more eating a McDonalds restaurant is located in the same block, or at the other side of the road there is the Resort World Mall (shops, foodcourt, casino). Life is very cheap for us Europeans as 10 Pesos is 18 eurocents.

Manila is not so busy like Hong Kong or Tokyo Narita, but a steady flow of aircraft are present in the morning and evening. Afternoons have some quiet moments.

Philippine Airlines (777-300ER, 747-400, A330, A340, A319, A320), Airphilexpress (A320, DHC8), Cebu Pacific (A319,A320,ATR72), Zest Airways (A319,A320,MA60), SEAir (A319/A320 and their sole 737-200) can be seen plus the local smaller companies flying tourists to the small isles in their Ce208’s, Do228’s, Sh330’s, Be18’s. Unfortunately I did not see the two Air Asia Philippines A320’s as they fly from Clark AFB (Manila’s low cost airport).

Philippine Airlines A320There are two runways, 06-24 and 13-31. During the five days I was here all landings and takeoffs were done on runway 06. Runway 31 is sometimes used for a DHC8/ATR72 takeoff but a minute later they use runway 13 for a bizjet takeoff.

There are three terminals at the airport. T1 is the international terminal and close to the holding point for runway 06 and the cargo area. T2 is the Philippine Airlines terminal (near the crossing of both runways), and T3 is the domestic terminal for Cebu, Zest, Airphilexpress.

From the hotel, facing west (only on the highest floors) you can see some stored aircraft (3x YS11, 1x An24, 1x Yak40, 1x Connie). Not all of the stored aircraft can be seen as there should be some DC-3’s and DHC-7’s stored here as well. From the roundabout near T3 partially blocked views can be had of some 737-200’s and DC-9’s that are stored. A ramp tour would be very nice but they (airport police) never replied on my requests for this.

When you take a taxi or shuttlebus to/from T1/T2 you might see some aircraft parked between the various buildings but it is not possible to see all from outside. Very frustrating.

I hope this info is of use for someone going here soon.


Airport Spotting Guides Far East and AustralasiaYou can find guides to spotting at Manila Airport and many others in Asia, Australasia and the Far East in my book, Airport Spotting Guides Far East and Australasia. Order your copy now at this link.

Best of the Web – Airport Spotting Videos – Extreme Fokker 50 Takeoff

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Iceland, Spotting Videos, Western Europe | Posted on 04-01-2013


In 2008 I was lucky enough to visit Isafjordur in the remote north of Iceland, whilst on my honeymoon. It’s a spectacular place, and even better for the enthusiast is that its tiny airport is like the old Kai Tak in Hong Kong. Aircraft approaching need to hug the mountain, and then make a tight turn. And on takeoff, it’s an immediate turn to avoid hitting the mountain dead ahead!

I recently found this video showing a Fokker 50 departing Isafjordur and making that turn. Enjoy!

Dubai A380 Concourse opens

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport News, Dubai, Middle East, Miscellaneous Spotting | Posted on 02-01-2013


Dubai Concourse A Trial DeparturesDubai Airport has today begun the phased opening of its new dedicated Airbus A380 concourse.

Concourse A at the airport’s Terminal 3 features 20 contact gates capable of handling the A380 superjumbo, and is the first such facility anywhere in the world.

The concourse was opened on 2nd January, with four gates available, following passenger trials in December. EK 003 scheduled for departure at 1430hrs from Dubai to Heathrow, London became Concourse A’s first flight, ushering in a new era in Dubai’s aviation history.

Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports said, “Just as we did with what turned out to be a flawless opening of Terminal 3 and Concourse B in 2008 – which was a much larger and more complex exercise involving the complete transfer of Emirates airline’s operations to the new facility – we are opening Concourse A in stages with more gates coming online in each successive phase. We believe that this approach of gradual transition will enable us and all our partners to ensure smooth operations and help us to deliver on our customer service commitment.”

A another critical element of the $7.8 billion Strategic Plan 2020, Concourse A is part of the Terminal 3 complex exclusively built for the use of Emirates airline, and will provide Dubai International’s the much needed room as its passenger traffic approaches full capacity. Dubai International’s annual passenger capacity will increase from 60 million to 75 million when Concourse A is fully operational, while traffic for 2012 is expected to reach 57 million.

Looking ahead to 2013

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Miscellaneous Spotting | Posted on 30-12-2012


Get ready guys… it’s time for the obligatory posts at this time of year that look to the year ahead and all it’s likely to bring.

Here are a few aviation and airport related topics that are likely to dominate the headlines in 2013…


1. Airbus A350 First Flight
The date is not yet announced, but Airbus’ long-awaited next widebody, the A350, is expected to make its maiden flight from Toulouse, France, in Spring or early Summer 2013. We’ve already seen the first glimpses of the aircraft, so stay tuned for the official date of the first flight.

2. Boeing 787s Everywhere
2012 was the year of the 787 Dreamliner. They started flying with various carriers and making lots of ‘firsts’ around the world. I had the opportunity to visit the demonstrator aircraft at Heathrow as part of its World Tour. In 2013, we’re going to see a lot more airlines take delivery of the type, including Thomson Airways and British Airways in the UK, and Norwegian who will fly it on low-cost long-haul flights.

3. American Airlines New Livery
It’s been kept under wraps for a while now, but I think everyone know American Airlines will get a new livery soon. It’s new Boeing 777-300s were supposed to be the first aircraft to feature it, however the first example was delivered unpainted. Keep your eyes out as it’s likely to emerge soon in a new scheme.

4. The End of Passenger 707s
Saha Air in Iran fly the last Boeing 707 passenger services and enthusiasts have visited for many years for the chance to fly on one. But I genuinely believe 2013 will be the year they are retired for good. I may be wrong, but the airline has recently taken Airbus A300s as replacements, so the writing may finally be on the wall for the legendary airliner.

5. A Decision is Made about UK Airports/Runways
Here in the UK, tensions are running so high over the issue of extra runways for London airports, or the idea of a completely new airport built out to sea. Whilst I think it will be MANY years before we see anything appear, I think a decision has to be made in 2013 which will bring a solution.


Last passenger DC-8s to be retired in 2013

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Miscellaneous Spotting, North America, USA | Posted on 29-12-2012


DC-8-ATI (c) ToshiAokiATI – the last operator of Douglas DC-8s with passenger seats – says it will retired the type in early 2013 as it purchases Boeing 757 aircraft to replace them.

ATI (Air Transport International) are primarily a cargo carrier, however they retain four DC-8s with a section of seating in the rear for carrying passengers alongside cargo. This made them the last chance to fly on a DC-8, however you would have to be part of a special charter to do so.

But now the carrier is looking to reduce fuel costs and modernize its fleet with the purchase of three Boeing 757s (to accompany one already in the fleet) which will also be in a combi configuration, allowing both cargo and passengers to be carried. The aircraft will be sourced from National Airlines.

ATI and their DC-8s feature in Last Chance to Fly – an ebook I’ve written detailing how to fly on the world’s rarest and most historic aircraft. Get a copy here.

Spotting at Marrakech Airport

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Africa, Airport Spotting Guide, Morocco | Posted on 27-12-2012


Royal Air MarocAs you may have read in my earlier trip report, I passed through Marrakech, Morocco recently on holiday.

The flights were with Ryanair from London Luton. On the return, I explored a bit to see what spotting opportunities there are at the airport, and what kind of flights are on offer.

First of all, at the moment there’s a new terminal under construction to the east of the current main terminal. This, I believe, is on the site of an older, recently demolished, terminal. No doubt this will have similar views to the existing terminal once complete.

Marrakech AirportThe airport has a single runway, 10/28, and roads between the airport and the city pass close to the end of runway 28. The pavements alongside these roads are perfectly suitable for photographing aircraft just before landing.

There is also an area of waste ground at the end of runway 10 which is suitable for watching movements.

Outside the terminal building there are few opportunities to see what’s on the ground, save for a small gap to the right of the building which looks towards the runway.

Ryanair MarrakechOnce inside the terminal, the only opportunities to see aircraft are once you’ve passed through to the departure lounge. This upstairs gate area runs the length of the building, with all stands visible. You can also see the runway, and get limited views of the military base on the far side of the runway (including the preserved Fairchild C-119G Boxcar, CNA-MH).

Not visible from the terminal are the parking stands at the extreme eastern end of the ramp, where executive and general aviation aircraft park. If you are departing on runway 28, sit on the right side of the aircraft and you should see these aircraft as you taxi past.

Marrakech is mainly a tourist destination, and operators are generally low-cost and leisure airlines from countries in Europe. The main operators are easyJet, Jetairfly, Norwegian Air Shuttle, Royal Air Marco, and Ryanair. A decent number of bizjet movements also pass through.


Merry Christmas from Airport Spotting Blog

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 24-12-2012


May I wish you all a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year, from the Airport Spotting Blog!

Thank you all for visiting this site over the past year and supporting the site by buying books and guides.

Please remember to Like us on Facebook

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And let me know what you’d like to see more of in 2013 by leaving a comment below!