VietJetAir announces date for first flights to Bangkok

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Asia, Miscellaneous Spotting, Thailand, Vietnam | Posted on 29-11-2012


VietJetAirVietJetAir has announced the date it will inaugurate its first international flights, between Ho Chi Minh City and Bangkok.

The daily flight will begin on 10th February, 2013 – the first day of the new Lunar Year – and will operate using Airbus A320 aircraft.

Desmond Lin, Business Development Director of VietJetAir, said: “We are very excited to be able to operate our inaugural international flight in the near future. This would give us the opportunity to showcase Vietnam in a different perspective – the fun side of Vietnam as a destination outside the traditional approach. Bangkok is also a major international hub for global travel where there is plenty of demand for our highly affordable ticket fares and high-quality flights on board a modern Airbus aircraft, staffed by fun, friendly and professional air stewards.”

Birmingham Airport runway extension begins

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport News, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 28-11-2012


Birmingham Airport in the UK has broken ground on its new runway extension which should put the airport in a position to accept flights to much further destinations and with much larger aircraft.

At a time when the UK government is arguing over how to deal with the lack of capacity and runways around London, Birmingham is ideally placed only 1 hour 20 away from central London by train and still has room to grow in terms of the number of flights it handles.

The runway extension will add 405m (1,350ft) to the airport’s single runway, taking it to 3,003m in total. It is due to open in 2014. It will allow direct flights to operate from Birmingham to China, Japan, South Africa, west coast USA, and South America.

Birmingham Airport‘s CEO, Paul Kehoe, said “We have plenty of spare capacity at Birmingham now. Our passenger numbers could double from the current nine million a year to eighteen million today, and the runway extension will allow us to increase beyond thirty six million in future years.”

A dedicated website about the runway extension can be found here.

Qatar Dreamliner coming to London in December

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Heathrow, Middle East, Qatar, Spotting News, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 26-11-2012


Qatar Airways has confirmed the date its new Boeing 787 Dreamliners will begin serving London Heathrow.

A daily flight will be operated from Doha to Heathrow from 13th December, 2013. It arrives at Heathrow at 1105, and departs at 1505.

Qatar are currently flying their aircraft, which was delivered recently, on short flights to Dubai and Kuwait to aid in crew familiarisation. London will be the first long haul destination the type flies on.


To keep up to date with the routes airlines will be flying their 787 Dreamliners on, check out the Boeing 787 Routes page, which is updated regularly!

Around Auckland – Nearby Aviation Attractions

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, Australasia, New Zealand | Posted on 22-11-2012


NZ Warbirds DC-3 Dakota ArdmoreIn the first of a new series of posts, I’m starting to look at the aviation attractions to see around the various airports around the world that spotters visit.

Quite often, a city will have a second airport with some unique aircraft to see, or an aviation museum telling the region’s aviation history and displaying preserved aircraft.

In this post we’ll look at Auckland. The city’s airport is the main gateway to New Zealand, and is quite busy with large airliners arriving from around the Far East, Asia, Middle East and the Americas. It’s also a busy hub for Air New Zealand and its feeder airlines, and is also busy with cargo carriers.

Nearby Attractions
Ardmore Aerodrome is a former WWII USAF bomber base and is now a general aviation airfield around 15 miles east of Auckland International. It has a single runway and is the busiest airport in New Zealand by number of movements.

Mountain Air have their maintenance base here, and the airfield is home to NZ Warbirds restoration company in residence with a number of historic aircraft that are regularly flown and displayed. They have an immaculate DC-3 which operates scenic and charter flights from the airfield.


North Shore Airfield is situated 16 miles north of Auckland city centre. It is a small general aviation field which is popular for flight training. It also has flights to Great Barrier Island and a few other destinations. Movements can be seen from Postman Road which also runs past the parking aprons.


Airport Spotting Guides Far East and AustralasiaAuckland and many other airports are covered in my book, Airport Spotting Guides Far East and Australasia. It covers where to spot, what you’ll see, nearby attractions, spotting hotels and detailed maps for each airport.

Buy here

Virgin Atlantic wins all Heathrow slots

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Heathrow, Miscellaneous Spotting, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 19-11-2012


Virgin Atlantic A320Major news for Virgin Atlantic and UK domestic travellers has just been announced.

The airline has won all of the slots it bid for at London Heathrow, following the merger of bmi British Midland into the IAG group earlier this year.

The merger meant that British Airways (owned by IAG) had to surrender a lot of bmi’s slots at the airport so as to avoid creating a monopoly at Heathrow. Various airlines naturally bid for them, however it is Virgin Atlantic who has secured these slots and plans to use them to offer domestic flights within the UK.

Virgin had already announced it was to introduce 3x daily flights between Manchester and London Heathrow from March 2013, using Airbus A319 aircraft, and going head-to-head with British Airways, who already operate on the route.

However, with the addition of these slots, Virgin plans to link Heathrow with Aberdeen and Edinburgh also. It has also said it plans to significantly increase its domestic offerings from next year.

Where can you fly on a Shorts SD360? Last Chance to Fly

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Aruba, Asia, Canada, Caribbean, Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Israel, Middle East, North America, South America, Venezuela | Posted on 17-11-2012


Shorts 360The Shorts SD-360 was a funny-looking commuter plane. Built alongside its twin Shorts SD-330 type, the 360 can be recognised for having a single fin (compared to the twin fins on the 330).

The aircraft was built in Belfast, Northern Ireland, between 1981-1991, and in total there were 164 examples built.

It was used around the world, popular with commuter and regional airlines in the UK and USA in particular. It was certainly a common sight in my youth, but sadly I never got to fly on the ‘Shed’, as it was commonly referred to. And today, it seems you hardly see them anywhere, save for a few cargo examples.

So, how many are still flying passengers, and where can you fly them? Here’s some information which is covered in the new update of Last Chance to Fly – our book on flying rarer passenger aircraft:

Airlines Still Flying Passenger SD-360s

Air Seychelles still operates a single Short 360 on its inter-island route to Praslin Island. They used to have a larger fleet of the aircraft.

Deraya Air Taxi operate two Short 360s from their Jakarta Halim base in Indonesia. These aircraft are used on commuter and air taxi flights.

Tiara Air of Aruba has two Short 360 aircraft in its fleet. These fly on routes around the Caribbean.

SAP – Servicios Aereos Profesionales, is a regional airline based in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. They have one Short 360-100 which is used on Caribbean routes.

Central America
La Costeña is a regional airline based in Managua, Nicaragua. It has one Short 360 in its fleet, which is flown on domestic routes.

Middle East
Ayeet Aviation & Tourism of Israel operate a single Short 360 aircraft on domestic services within Israel.

North America
Pacific Coastal Airlines, based in Vancouver, have two passenger Short 360’s in their fleet. These fly on services within British Columbia from Vancouver to Comox and Campbell River.


Passenger Examples

SH3602 – YN-CGF, La Costena – Managua, Nicaragua
SH3619 – P4-TIA, Tiara Air – Oranjestad, Aruba
SH3620 – C-GPCF, Pacific Coastal Airlines – Vancouver, Canada
SH3621 – P4-TIB, Tiara Air – Oranjestad, Aruba
SH3622 – C-GPCW, Pacific Coastal Airlines – Vancouver, Canada
SH3672 – HI657, SAP Servicios Aereos Profesionales – Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
SH3713 – YV396T, Comeravia – Margarita, Venezuela
SH3724 – S7-PRI, Air Seychelles – Mahe Island, Seychelles
SH3743 – PK-DSS, Deraya Air Taxi – Jakarta Halim, Indonesia
SH3757 – PK-DSH, Deraya Air Taxi – Jakarta Halim, Indonesia
SH3758 – 4X-AVP, Ayeet Aviation & Tourism – Be Er-Sheba, Israel

Last Chance to Fly EBookLast Chance to Fly 2012 – ebook

Our latest book, Last Chance to Fly, is available to buy online now. The digital version of this book lists the world’s rarest passenger aircraft types, and where to find them and fly on them.

Click here to find out more and buy a copy.

Sydney Airport could see more runways and terminals to the south

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport News, Australasia, Australia, Miscellaneous Spotting | Posted on 14-11-2012


NSW Treasurer Mike Baird has backed the Botany Bay plan. Source: The Daily TelegraphA proposal has been put forward for the expansion of Sydney Airport in Australia to the south of its current site and into Botany Bay.

The proposal calls for a fourth and fifth runway to be built across the water from the current site, with road, rail and aircraft taxiway links connecting the site by bridges and tunnels.

New South Wales Treasurer Mike Baird has given the scheme his backing, over alternative options of building a new airport, or expanding Canberra Airport and linking it to Sydney Airport via high speed trains.

Environmentalists have shown concern over the plans in the water environment, and neighbours fear the extra noise and pollution from the inevitable growth in air traffic – something which is currently limited at Sydney Airport.

The plans for the expanded site also include freight and passenger terminals to be built alongside the new parallel runways, but may also see the closure of one of the existing three runways.

What do you think? Does Sydney need an expansion like this?

Gatwick losing Pier 1

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport News, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 14-11-2012


London Gatwick Airport is to lose its original Pier 1.

This was one of the world’s first ‘piers’, linking the main airport terminal with the gate areas, and allowing aircraft to park up to it. It was opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1958.

The pier is to be demolished to make way for a new two-storey building containing a new baggage system, and new gate-rooms for passengers which will be linked to five new aircraft stands by air-bridges.

The development will cost £184 million and is part of the ongoing redevelopment and modernization of Gatwick.

Last Chance to Fly eBook now available

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Book Reviews, Miscellaneous Spotting | Posted on 11-11-2012


Last Chance to Fly EBookFlying on a rare or historic airliner is something that’s on the bucket list of most enthusiasts. It seems that all too quickly, types such as the Boeing 707, 727, and Douglas DC-9 have seemingly gone from being all over our skies, to being almost non-existent.

A casual glance might not reveal any obvious opportunities to fly many of these types, save for a few well-documented options, such as the Saha Air Boeing 707s, or Air Koryo enthusiast trips on its Russian aircraft.

So I wanted to put together a resource for the enthusiast which would make it easy to find out which rare and historic airliners are still flying passengers, and with which countries and airlines. Thus, Last Chance to Fly was born.

Initially released as a print book (which is still available here), Last Chance to Fly has now been updated with the latest changes in operational aircraft, and is available as an eBook to purchase and download directly.

The ebook represents a big saving of 50% over the print version of the book, and has the latest information on airlines flying rare and historic aircraft. So why not have a look now and decide on some trips of a lifetime for 2013!

Find out more about the book, including lists of aircraft covered, at this link:

Buy Last Chance to Fly

5 airports to see a Lockheed L1011 Tristar

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Africa, Egypt, North America, UK, USA, Western Europe | Posted on 09-11-2012


RAF L-1011 TristarThe Lockheed Tristar was one of the most successful widebody airliners of its era, but today barely any can be found operating around the world.

If you’re keen to get a few of these in your logbooks before they’re all turned into beer cans, here are five airports where you can still at least see L-1011 Tristars, even if they’re not carrying passengers around.


Tucson, Az
A L-1011 Tristar was donated to the Flying Hospital. It was turned into a mobile hospital, with beds, operating tables and lots of equipment. For a few years it flew around Africa and the Far East treating patients in developing countries. However, since flights seem to have halted, this aircraft can be found languishing at Tucson Airport. It is P4-MED, c/n 1064.

Victorville, CA
Of all the US storage airports, Victorville in California is THE place to find L-1011 Tristars in significant numbers. The remaining retired fleet of Delta Air Lines (who operated the L-1011 in significant numbers) can be found here – some still complete, whilst others are missing parts or only a short while away from the scrapman. The best way to see them is to hire a light aircraft flight over the airport so that you can get a better view (and pictures) of the Tristars.

London Stansted, UK
For a number of years now, Stansted Airport has had its own stranded L-1011 Tristar. Formerly operated by British Airways, Caledonian, and Classic Airways, G-IOII c/n 1145 is used as an instructional airframe at the airport.

RAF Brize Norton, UK
The Oxfordshire RAF base is a staging post for troop flights and logistics, and flights to the remote Falkland Islands. Although the RAF’s Tristars are not used on public passenger flights any more, they still operate from this base, which is the only airport in the world with regular L1011 flights.

Taba International, Egypt
This remote airport in eastern Egypt. There are a number of Lockheed Tristars in storage here due to the mixed fortunes of a number of carriers who have taken second-hand examples of the type – airline such as Royal Air, Skygate International,and Air Rum.


There are other operators and stored examples of L1011s around the world, but in often less accessible locations. Airports such as Damascus, Tripoli, Islamabad, Kinshasa, and NDjamena.

Have you spotted a Tristar in any other location? Leave a comment below!



Last Chance to Fly EBookLast Chance to Fly 2012 – ebook
Our latest book, Last Chance to Fly, is available to buy online now. The digital version of this book lists the world’s rarest passenger aircraft types, and where to find them and fly on them. It includes the L-1011 Tristar and many other aircraft.

Click here to find out more and buy a copy.