Ethiopian’s expansion plans

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Africa, Airline News, Dubai, Ethiopia, Middle East, Qatar, Spotting News | Posted on 20-08-2012


Ethiopian Airlines 757

As Ethiopian Airlines took delivery of its first Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft this week – only the third airline to do so – it has outlined plans to expand its fleet and home base dramatically over the coming years.

The airline has 14 aircraft due for delivery this year, including more 787s, as well as Boeing 737-800s, Dash 8 Q400s, and Boeing 777 freighters.

Ethiopian has also announced it is considering purchasing either 737 Max or Airbus A320neo aircraft as part of its intentions to increase its fleet to 120 aircraft by 2025.

To complement these plans, Ethiopian Airlines is hoping to make its Addis Ababa Airport base a worldwide hub along the lines of those in Dubai and Doha, where passengers would arrive from one side of the world and transfer to flights heading to the other side of the world.

Ethiopian’s unique selling point is its strong coverage of emerging markets in Africa, which the Middle Eastern carriers have been slower to reach.

Whether this happens is still very much up in the air, as most consider Addis Ababa to be inferior to many Western and Middle Eastern hub airports, and Ethiopian’s existing fleet of Boeing 757 and 767 aircraft are starting to look long in the teeth.

Runway Rooms?

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Miscellaneous Spotting, North America, Spotting Hotels, USA, Websites | Posted on 17-08-2012


Singapore A380 9V-SKA seen from London Heathrow Holiday Inn Ariel hotel

A nice article has appeared in Australia’s The Age newspaper on the subject of Runway Rooms, or hotels with good views of the action at airports.

The article is written by Katrina Lobley, but I had the honour of providing some insight to her on the subject, which is naturally close to my heart and the topic of this blog.

In the piece, some of the best hotels from around the world are described, from Atlanta’s Renaissance Concourse to DFW’s Grand Hyatt airport hotel; St. Maarten’s Sonesta Resort to Dubai’s Sheraton Deira. These are some of my favourite places to spend the night.

You can read the article here:

Which airport hotels do you love?

Read my guide to Heathrow Spotting Hotels here.


Where to catch the Boeing 747-8

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Abu Dhabi, Asia, Frankfurt, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Luxembourg, Middle East, Miscellaneous Spotting, North America, UK, USA, Western Europe | Posted on 16-08-2012


Boeing’s latest incarnation of the queen of the skies – the 747 – is now in operation with eight carriers and a number of private operators worldwide.

Featuring extended length, capacity, range, and a variety of technological advances both inside and out, the type is the height of aviation design.

It is available in passenger, cargo and VIP configurations; however, the cargo variant has proved far more popular, and more airlines are currently flying this option.

So where can you see the Boeing 747-8 in operation? Here are are the main airports:

Everett Paine Field
Boeing’s airfield to the north of Seattle where the Boeing 747-8 is built. You’ll see all aircraft flight testing here, and sitting on the flight line as they are fitted out. You can head to the Future of Flight center for its observation deck and watch the 747’s flying close by you.

London Stansted
Global Supply Systems flies three 747-8’s on behalf of British Airways Cargo to destinations worldwide. However, their home base is London Stansted airport in the UK.

Hong Kong Chek Lap Kok
Cathay Pacific ordered ten Boeing 747-8’s for its cargo network, and was one of the launch customers for the type. Their Hong Kong base is one of the busiest hubs for the type, as it also sees examples from other cargo airlines visit.

Frankfurt Main
Lufthansa is the only airline to operate the passenger version of the 747-8 so far (other airlines have the type on order), and their Frankfurt base is where it flies from. It operates to destinations such as Washington Dulles on a daily basis. In total, 20 747-8’s will join Lufthansa as they replace their older 747-400’s.

Cargolux was the first airline to take delivery of a Boeing 747-8. The airline ordered seven of the type, which are based at Luxembourg. However, they can be seen on their round-the-world network to many far flung airports.

Tokyo Narita
Nippon Cargo Airlines are based at Tokyo Narita Airport in Japan. They ordered 14 Boeing 747-8’s, and the type has already entered service on long haul cargo operations.

Abu Dhabi
The first VIP configured Boeing 747-8 was delivered to the Abu Dhabi Amiri Flight as a royal transport aircraft. It flies from Abu Dhabi on official business.


Guangzhou Airport expansion begins

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport News, Asia, China | Posted on 14-08-2012


Guangzhou Baiyun Airport Expansion

Guangzhou Baiyun Airport in the Pearl River Delta has begun a $3 billion expansion that will turn it into one of the top three airports in China.

The airport sits amongst other major airports of the region, including Shenzhen, Zhuhai, as well as Macao and Hong Kong Chek Lap Kok, however the government is planning to elevate its position as the leading gateway in the area.

Guangzhou is currently handling more than 45 million passengers per year, however its single terminal is only designed to handle 35 million at a push. In addition, its two runways can not handle the required number of movements per hour.

Therefore, the expansion which is now underway will add a second terminal that capable of bringing the airport’s capacity to more than the 80 million passengers per year expected by 2020. In addition to this, another 12,500ft runway will be built and the instrument landing system on all runways upgraded. A new air traffic control centre, metro station, fuel farm, and associated roads and car parks will also be added as part of the expansion, which is due for completion in 2014.


Guangzhou Baiyun Airport is covered in my book Airport Spotting Guides Far East and Australasia – listing all of the places to spot and photograph aircraft at this airport and others in China. It also lists the airlines which operate, nearby aviation attractions, and hotels with views of aircraft.

Click here for more information.

Spanish regional Helitt expands

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Spain, Spotting News, Western Europe | Posted on 12-08-2012


Helitt ATR72 (c) HelittHelitt – a regional airline which started up at Malaga in late 2011 – has recently announced its expansion with new routes from Barcelona.

Initially, Helitt began serving Melilla – a Spanish enclave in Africa – from Malaga, Barcelona and Madrid with its ATR72 aircraft. It also started services from Malaga to Badajoz, Casablanca and Madrid.

The airline is now expanding its operation from Barcelona, with routes to Pamplona and Vitoria.

Stavanger Airport now has live cameras!

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Miscellaneous Spotting, Norway, Spotting News, Websites, Western Europe | Posted on 10-08-2012


Stavanger Airport WebcamIf you’re sat at home or in an office somewhere and dreaming of being sat at an airport, watching the aircraft come and go, then I’ve got a new site for you to bookmark.

Stavanger Airport in Norway now has a page with two webcams, looking both directions down the main runway, showing all of the comings and goings. It is run by

From giving it a go, I can say that the live streaming is very fast.

The site also shows a live ATC map centred on Stavanger, taken from the excellent FlightRadar24 site. Below this, there’s an arrivals and departures board from the airport, showing what movements are due.

You can view the Stavanger Airport webcams here:

London Olympics – British Airways special schemes

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Miscellaneous Spotting, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 09-08-2012


In honour of the incredible London 2012 Olympics over the past couple of weeks, here are two shots of the special schemes painted on British Airways‘ aircraft in honour of the event.

The first is Airbus A319 G-EUOH, painted in the Dove scheme, which I photographed on my visit to the 787 Dreamliner event at London Heathrow.

G-EUOH Olympic Dove








The second is Airbus A319 G-EUPC, painted in the Olympic Flame scheme, which I photographed at Manchester Airport in July. This aircraft brought the flame to the UK from Paris ahead of the Olympics.

G-EUPC Olympc Flame








A third aircraft was painted in the Dove scheme – ex-British Midland A319 G-DBCH.

Upcoming aviation events calendar 2012

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Miscellaneous Spotting | Posted on 06-08-2012


Here’s a list of the upcoming big aviation events around the world for the remainder of 2012. Are any of you heading to them? I’d love to see your reports and photos:



15th-17th August
Sao Paulo, Brazil
The second largest business aviation fair in the world.

ILA Air Show Berlin

ILA Berlin Air Show
11th-16th September
Berlin ExpoCenter, Schönefeld Airport, Germany
A huge aviation trade show, with thousands of exhibitors and hundreds of aircraft in attendance, from civil to military, light to heavy.

BAE 2012
12th-13th September
Biggin Hill Airport, London, UK
A free event aimed at business and private aviation sectors, with a large static display and expo.

NBAA 2012
30th October-1st November
Orange County Convention Center & Orlando Executive Airport, Orlando, FL
Famous event for the business aviation community with many exhibitors and a large static display of biz jet aircraft.

Airshow China 2012
13th-18th November
Zhuhai Guangdong, China
The only official airshow in china, with a flying display, static display, and a lot of business done by the manufacturers.

MEBA 2012
11th-13th December
Al Maktoum International Airport, UAE
Middle East Business Aviation show. A static display of biz jet aircraft and a large conference is held.


Carlisle set to expand into regional airport

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport News, Miscellaneous Spotting, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 05-08-2012


Carlisle Airport (c) Simon LedinghamAfter a long battle with local authorities and land owners, sleepy Carlisle Airport may finally be set to expand into a UK regional airport with passenger and cargo flights.

The small airport, located to the north of the Lake District National Park, and only a few miles from the border with Scotland, has been a quiet airfield handling mainly general aviation and a few biz jet movements. However, its owners – Stobart Air (part of the freight and logistics group, who also own London Southend Airport) – have been pushing for approval to turn it into a major freight hub linking their trucking operation with air freight.

They also want to open the airport to passenger flights. Recently Aer Arann – operating as Aer Lingus Regional – stated that they would base an ATR42 aircraft at Carlisle to operate daily flights to Dublin and London Southend.

Now, Carlisle City councillors have agreed to a £12.5m investment that will see a 374,000 sq ft distribution hub built at the airport and other improvements to the airport infrastructure.

Best of the Web – Airport Spotting Videos – Building a 737

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Miscellaneous Spotting, Norway, Spotting Videos, Western Europe | Posted on 03-08-2012


I just love these time-lapse videos showing aircraft being built, painted etc. So forgive me for posting another one here, but I hope you’ll enjoy all the same.

This one shows a brand new Boeing 737-800 being built for, and then painted and performing its first flight. It’s fascinating to see how these aircraft are put together, and so quickly on the moving production line!