Cheap UK to Moscow flights as easyJet is granted rights

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Eastern Europe, Miscellaneous Spotting, Russia, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 25-10-2012


easyJet A320In a blow to Virgin Atlantic, rights to fly between the UK and Moscow have been granted to easyJet, with flights expected to begin in March 2013.

Under the bilateral agreement between Russia and the UK, two British airlines are permitted to fly between the two countries. Since British Airways’ takeover of BMI, there has been a vacant position as the second airline. Virgin Atlantic and easyJet were battling head-to-head for the rights, and today it has been announced that easyJet have been successful.

easyJet will fly from London Gatwick to Moscow Domodedovo twice daily using Airbus A320 aircraft. The CAA board commented “We concluded that easyJet’s proposal would introduce a distinctly different product [to British Airways] as well as satisfying and stimulating consumer demand that is currently under served, in particular for people who prefer or are content to use Gatwick.”

For the enthusiast this bodes very well. Moscow’s airports are still a rich picking ground of older Russian aircraft, often laid up in storage, and the city also holds the fantastic MAKS Air Show every other year.

This has tempted me to look for some cheap flights next summer for the next MAKS event. easyJet are advertising return prices as low as £125.

Volotea add Palermo base

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Airport News, Italy, Spain, Western Europe | Posted on 24-10-2012


Volotea 500000 passengersVolotea, the new Spanish low-cost carrier, has announced its third base will be Palermo in Italy.

The new base will commence from March 2013, and will see two Boeing 717 aircraft based there. There will also be 13 new routes added from the airport – both domestic and international. These include:

Palma de Mallorca

In the airline’s first year of operations, it has carried over half a million passengers and create 230 jobs; it will create a further 50 with its new base in Palermo.

Speaking in Palermo, Carlos Munoz, founder and CEO of Volotea, said:
“The decision to open our third European base could only lie with Palermo, a city in which we believed and invested a lot since the beginning of our operations.

“Palermo has given us excellent results right from the start, as evidenced by the more than 65,000 passengers in the airport in just six months of activity, which has contributed to its status as one of the most popular of our extensive network.”

Vueling to turn Barcelona into a mega hub

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Airport News, Frankfurt, Germany, Spain, Western Europe | Posted on 24-10-2012


This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license.Vueling has announced its intention to grow its hub at Barcelona into Europe’s biggest, emulating those seen in the Middle East, and overtaking the existing busy European hub airport of Frankfurt.

The low-cost airline will increase the number of destinations it serves from Barcelona to 100 in 2013, as it adds 28 more routes, including destinations such as London Gatwick, Frankfurt and Dusseldorf from March.

This comes on the back of Vueling adding 45 new destinations from Barcelona over the past two years. This has put the airport in second place in Europe in terms of the number of destinations served, behind Frankfurt. But it hopes to turn Barcelona into the biggest hub in Europe as it continues expanding and adding more choice of destinations.

By doing this, Vueling is increasing the number of connecting passengers at the airport, and also working at increasing the number of business passengers it carries to around 50% of all passengers.

The airline’s CEO, Alex Cruz, said he hoped to be seen as a short/medium-haul version of Qatar Airways with its base at Barcelona.


Southwest spreading over AirTran cities

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Airport News, Miscellaneous Spotting, North America, USA | Posted on 23-10-2012


The Southwest Airlines brand will take over four cities currently served by AirTran by April 2013.

Southwest bought AirTran recently, and big changes are afoot at the airline, including the planned replacement of its Boeing 717 aircraft.

The airports that will see Southwest in place of AirTran from April are:

Charlotte, NC – flights to Baltimore/Washington, Chicago Midway, and Houston Hobby.
Flint, MI – flights to Baltimore/Washington, Orlando, and Tampa.
Portland, ME – flights to Baltimore/Washington.
Rochester, NY – flights to Baltimore/Washington, Chicago Midway, Orland, and Tampa.

Gradually Southwest liveries will take over more and more AirTran routes.

(credit to ATW Online)

Trip Report – Luton to Marrakech

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Africa, Morocco, Spotting Trip Reports, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 21-10-2012


Luton Ryanair 737We didn’t have a summer holiday this year. Instead, we choose to go somewhere hot in the Autumn, and Morocco was our destination of choice.

Despite the distance from home, flying Ryanair from Luton to Marrakech was the most affordable option, so we drove down and found a cheap deal in the Long Stay car park – and as a spotter, this is one of the best. The Harrods hangar and biz jet parking area is right alongside you, and you have a view across to park  of the passenger terminal’s stands, and some of the distant biz jet parking areas.

Spotting at Luton Airport

Getting the bus to the terminal also passes (briefly) some of the other biz jet parking areas. Remember that Luton is London’s biz jet airport of choice, so there’s always something of interest to see. On this visit I saw Chinese and Hong Kong Gulfstreams, and a Kuwaiti A319CJ amongst many others.

Once checked in, we headed upstairs for some food. In the food court you have views over one of the smaller airliner aprons, and in the distance the airport’s single runway. As we ate our lunch, the afternoon departure of the El Al Boeing 767-200 taxied past.

Luton Ryanair Flight

To reach the gates Ryanair use, it’s quite a distant walk. You’ll pass all of the easyJet gates, and then reach the original part of the terminal to join the mad rush for Ryanair flights.


Today we were flying on EI-EFW, one of the more recent Boeing 737-800s the airline uses. Boarding is done by walking to the aircraft, so we headed for the rear stairs to give more chance of a window seat – and more chance to see the aircraft parked around us. From this area you can often see into the maintenance hangars at Luton.

Ryanair Sunset View

The flight from Luton to Marrakech is around 3hrs 20 mins long. Ryanair’s seating is fairly cramped, and anything you want to eat or drink must be bought. But there wasn’t anything to complain about – the views were good all the way, with a stunning sunset as we reached the African coast and descended for arrival.

It was dark when we landed at Marrakech Airport. Landing on the easterly runway required a number of tight turns just before arrival which felt a bit like the old Kai Tak airport in Hong Kong!

Just after arrival, another Ryanair aircraft departed, and an easyJet A319 arrived from Manchester, parking next to us.

Soon I’ll post a spotting report from Marrakech Airport to guide you around what the airport has to offer, and how to get the best views there.

Upcoming Heathrow changes

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Airport News, Heathrow, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 18-10-2012


For the London Heathrow spotters out there, here are a few changes to look out for over the next few months:

AeroMexico is to begin a Boeing 767-300 service from Mexico City. It will be a 3x weekly service (Mon, Thu, Sat) from 15 December.

Malaysia Airlines will now use the Airbus A380 on all of its scheduled services to/from Kuala Lumpur, replacing the Boeing 777.

LOT Polish Airlines will operate the Boeing 787 on services to/from Warsaw on 21, 22, 29, 30, 31 December, and 1, 2 January.

United Airlines will operate a daily Boeing 787 flight from 4 February – 28 March 2013.

Gatwick starts developing options for second runway

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport News, Miscellaneous Spotting, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 17-10-2012


Despite having a 40 year agreement in place which bans London Gatwick Airport from building a second runway before 2019, the airport’s owners – Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) – agree that now is the time to plan for this expansion.

The work programme will now look in detail at the implications of a new runway and will cover all issues which Gatwick anticipates will be relevant. Gatwick believes that the additional capacity, flexibility and resilience that could be provided by a new runway at the airport would help to ensure that London’s airports provide the South East and the UK with the connectivity they need.

They also believe adding a second runway at Gatwick has advantages over plans for a third runway at Heathrow, a second runway at Stansted, or the Thames Estuary Airport.

Stewart Wingate, Chief Executive of Gatwick Airport Limited, said:

“I believe a new runway at Gatwick could be affordable, practical and give passengers a greater choice of routes to key markets. A new runway will allow Gatwick to compete and grow, increasing the choice available to passengers today. We have the space, capability and access to financial resources.

“There are clear practical advantages of a new runway at Gatwick. When compared with a third runway at Heathrow, we would have a significantly lower environmental impact whilst adding significantly more capacity. Stansted is half empty today, we already have much better surface transport links and feel our business case will be much stronger. As for the Estuary airport concepts, there are major questions on affordability, environmental issues and whether they are deliverable.

“The process of evaluating the runway options will be complex. I am committed to undertaking a comprehensive and in-depth assessment that considers not only the economic benefits but also the environmental impacts. We will be consulting with our key stakeholders throughout the process.”

VietJetAir’s new A320 arrives

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Asia, Vietnam | Posted on 17-10-2012


Vietnam’s leading low-cost carrier VietJetAir this week unveiled a new Airbus A320 at Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City.

This, the airline’s fourth aircraft, will soon be joined by many more as VietJetAir aims to meet its network expansion plans by the end of 2012 with further internal routes and international destinations on the way.

New Holiday Inn at London Southend Airport

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport News, Spotting Hotels, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 15-10-2012


Southend Airport Holiday InnA new Holiday Inn hotel has recently opened at London Southend Airport.

Feautring 129 bedrooms, it is ideally situated alongside the new terminal building at the rapidly-expanding Essex airport.

Naturally it also features a range of conference and meeting facilities, and other amenities.

But, in a move that will get enthusiasts’ attention, the hotel features the magnificent, fully sound-proofed, 1935 Rooftop Restaurant & Bar. It can seat over one hundred customers, as they gaze out at the spectacular, panoramic views of the airport and surrounding area. See the headline picture in this post for an idea.

The hotel’s location is perfectly suited for in-room spotting, too. All rooms on the north side of the building (including Standard, Executive, and King Superior rooms) face towards the runway and terminal ramp. So you will not miss any movements.

Southend Holiday Inn Views

You can find out more, and book rooms, at the Holiday Inn London Southend Airport from this link. – a great airline photographic site

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Miscellaneous Spotting, Spain, Websites, Western Europe | Posted on 14-10-2012


Air Berlin at Palma. ToniMarimon is a great photographic site covering aircraft movements at Palma de Mallorca, in Spain’s Balearic Islands.

I came across the site after working with Toni Marimon recently. He runs the site with some other people, and they have been working hard at adding the collection of Pedro de la Cruz, who has literally thousands of negatives dating back to the 1960s.

Palma has been a very popular and busy holiday airport since the 1960s. It has always been frequented by the various charter and low cost airlines from around Europe. So you can see many great pictures from days and airlines gone by on the site.

It’s also available in English and Spanish.

Check out the site here: