Europort Express – a new airline in Rotterdam

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Netherlands, Spotting News, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 26-05-2012

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Europort ExpressEuroport Express is a new carrier being set up in the Netherlands, based at Rotterdam The Hague Airport.

There has been much speculation over whether the airline was legitimate, however it seems that it will in fact be launching services from September 2012. Rob Smith spoke to Meilina Crampton about the venture:

Airline in the making, Europort Express announced last week its intentions to fly to 9 different destinations from its operating base in Rotterdam, famous for its vast port and closeness to The Hague and Amsterdam.

Six destinations in the UK and Ireland are featured, including Durham Tees Valley, Manchester and Dublin. Many of the destinations also have close sea port links which suggests that the airline is looking to compete with the North Sea ferry operators.

During an interview the airline’s Press Officer Meilina Crampton stated that the airlines main intention was to focus on the business traveller, however said “it would be a major issue if we ignored the leisure market, therefore our marketing campaigns will look to draw in both business and leisure flyers”

The aircraft chosen have been specifically selected so the airline will be able to operate multiple rotations per day. They include the Fokker 50 for routes with more demand, and the smaller 19 seat Jetstream 32.

Europort Express also hopes to have the exclusive use of these routes, as they believe there is only so much demand so the bigger companies such as the Dutch flag carrier KLM will not try to compete, nor will Cityjet who have cut back on routes since their take over of VLM.

The airline also hopes Rotterdam will be seen as a convenient substitute to flying to Amsterdam Schiphol, where the likes of KLM and British Airways fly.

The airline hopes to enter the market on a semi-low cost objective, therefore providing affordable prices, but still being able to make profit and supply a good service, in which every passenger will be entitled to a meal.

The ambitions for the airline have been made perfectly clear with their intentions being to hold a Dutch Air Operators Certificate within 2 year, but up until that stage the airline will use chartered aircraft and operate as a ticketing agency like Manx2 airline, which flies to many short-haul destinations from the Isle of Man.

Set to start operations on September 17th 2012, most flights will not start until January, therefore giving enough time to gain public interest and establish a good customer base at the destinations.

FlyScoot Revealed

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Asia, Australasia, Australia, China, Singapore | Posted on 25-05-2012

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(c) FlyScootNew low cost carrier FlyScoot, which is run by Singapore Airlines, has revealed its first plane in the airline’s full colour scheme. The airline will operate a fleet of Boeing 777-200s out of Singapore on high-demand intra-Asian routes, such as Gold Coast, Sydney and China. Doesn’t it look smart? Photo (c) FlyScoot from their Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/flyscoot

Best of the Web – Aviation Spotting Videos – Timelapse Trip to China

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Asia, China, Spotting Videos | Posted on 25-05-2012

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This week’s Best of the Web video is a cool time-lapse of a trip to China filmed on board multiple aircraft, and at multiple airports. You’ll see takeoffs, landings, lots of slow motion flight above fluffy clouds, and just a cool travel experience in general. It’s certainly made me want to get on a plane for a long haul trip!

Let me know what you think…

App Review – iFly Pro

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Spotting Equipment Reviews | Posted on 24-05-2012

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iFly AppiFly Pro is a new app for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad from Red Cirrus, the guys behind www.ifly.com

You may know the website, which is dubbed The Web’s Best Airport Guide, and covers a vast array of up-to-the-minute info on airports around the world, such as flight stats, delays, traffic updates, plus a range of details on terminal layouts, parking, tips etc.

Flight Arrivals

iFly Pro app is essentially the website in a portable format. It is intended for use in finding out about flights from/to certain airports, and how to get to airports and find the right place to be.

The app claims to cover 700+ airports around the world. I can’t claim to have counted, but it does seem to be fairly comprehensive. Having said that, I did search for my two nearest airports (Durham Tees Valley, and Newcastle, in the UK) and didn’t find them. But all of the bigger UK airports are covered.
iFly Airport MapsAirport status is offered for US airports, and you can also track the status of any flight you know the details of (flight number, from/to etc). So it’s a pretty handy tool for the traveller.

I tried to come at this from the perspective of an aviation enthusiast. How could I use it if I was out for the day visiting different airports to see the action?

Well, I’d definitely find it useful having the maps, showing airport, terminal and road layouts – especially when visiting an airport I’m not very familiar with. I’d also find it useful to see what airlines fly there, and to read the detailed overview which is provided for each airport. And perhaps most useful is the flight status at each airport, showing the upcoming arrivals and departures scheduled.

The app is full of info, and definitely worth the investment simply for its vast coverage of airports around the world. If you travel, it’s definitely worth it, as there’s so much information about each airport’s facilities, amenities and general travel hints.

You can download iFly from the App Store at this link: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/airport-guide+flight-tracker/id317805307?mt=8

Have you tried any good apps that are good for the aviation enthusiast? Comment below and I’ll take a look…

Southwest / AirTran 717 conundrum answered

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, North America, USA | Posted on 23-05-2012

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(c) MamaGeek at the English language WikipediaSince Southwest Airlines and AirTran announced their merger, there’s been one question on many peoples’ lips – what will happen to the sizeable fleet of Boeing 717’s that AirTran operates, since they blatantly don’t fit in with the single fleet (Boeing 737) mantra which Southwest has pioneered since the 1970s.

This was potentially a further problem since the 717 isn’t as fuel efficient as a 737, and thus any low cost airline would naturally be looking at the figures and looking for a different solution.

Well, after much speculation, we finally have an answer. Delta Air Lines are to lease all 88 of AirTran’s Boeing 717’s, with the transition taking three years and starting in Q3 2013.

This makes sense for Delta, who have a large fleet of DC-9/MD-80 aircraft (of which family the 717 is also a member), and is retiring its remaining ageing  DC-9s, so will need replacements.

So expect to see the 717s at Atlanta live on, and in a new colour scheme.

Finnair to outsource flying to Flybe.

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Finland, Spotting News, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 22-05-2012

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Finnair and Flybe are about to sign a deal that will see the UK low-cost regional carrier take on a third of the Finnish carrier’s European flying from October 2012.

The deal will also see Flybe flying all 12 of Finnair‘s Embraer 190 aircraft on their behalf on these European routes.

Flybe and Finnair have already worked together in the past, forming domestic carrier Flybe Nordic out of the remains of FinnComm airlines. This deal will further bolster their relationship, helping Finnair to reduce its costs and debts, and Flybe to increase its European coverage – an ambition it has never been shy about discussing.

Finnair will also be retiring a number of Embraer 170 and Airbus A320 aircraft in a further bid to reduce costs, and will use this new partnership as an opportunity to retrain European pilots on their long-haul Airbus A330/A340 fleets for the blossoming Asian network.

Whether we’ll see aircraft repainted into Flybe colours for the partnership is not known. Details of which routes are to be flown are also unknown at this time.

Final leg of 787 Dream Tour announced

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Africa, Australasia, Australia, Middle East, Miscellaneous Spotting, Morocco, New Zealand, Spotting News | Posted on 21-05-2012

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Boeing 787 Dreamliner World TourThe final leg of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner World Tour has been announced, with airports in Australia, New Zealand, Morocco and Uzbekistan on the list.

The third prototype, N787BX, has been visiting countries, airlines and press around the world over the past couple of months, promoting the new type and demonstrating its abilities.

This leg sees it visit:

  • May 24 – Sydney, Australia
  • May 29 – Auckland, New Zealand
  • May 31 – Darwin, Australia
  • June 1 – Tashkent, Uzbekistan
  • June 3 – Casablanca, Morocco

I was lucky enough to get invited on board the aircraft when it visited British Airways at London Heathrow in April. You can read about that here.

To follow the Dream Tour, visit the website http://www.newairplane.com/787/dreamtour

Last Boeing 720 Flight

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Canada, North America, Spotting News | Posted on 21-05-2012

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Last 720 flight Ian EllingtonLast week saw the final ever flight of a Boeing 720 aircraft as Pratt & Whitney Canada – the last operator of the type – retired their example in favour of more modern aircraft.

The Boeing 720 was a short-to-medium haul adaptation of the Boeing 707, and first flew in 1959. Only 154 examples were built, and it was later superseded by the more advanced Boeing 727.

The last flight took place from Trenton CFB, Ontario, on 8th May 2012, and Ian Ellington was there to witness it. These photos were taken by him of the low fly-by and interior of the aircraft.

(c) Ian EllingtonThis last 720 was C-FETB, jokingly named Pinocchio due to its extra long nose cone. Originally the aircraft was delivered to American Airlines in 1961, and later flew for Middle East Airlines. With Pratt & Whitney it was used as a flying test bed for turboprop and turbofan engines.

It’s sad to see another classic type being resigned to the history books, but fantastic that Ian was there to document the event on camera.

What is plane spotting?

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Heathrow, Miscellaneous Spotting, Spotting News, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 19-05-2012

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Airbus A380 at Heathrow's Myrtle Avenue Spotting Location

Airbus A380 approaching Heathrow's Myrtle Avenue Spotting Location

That is a question I was asked recently for a feature on BBC Radio 4 in the UK.

I met interviewer John McCarthy at London Heathrow’s Myrtle Avenue – arguably the best spot to spot planes at the airport if the aircraft are landing on 27L – to discuss the topic.

If you’re into plane spotting yourself, I’m sure you’ll agree that it is not particularly understood by many. So I tried to get across in the interview that it is interesting to those who do it. It isn’t related to terrorism. To many it uncovers worldwide travel pursuing the hobby. They also gave a plug about my latest book.

I’m not suggesting for one second that people should take it up if they’re not interested in aircraft, airports or airlines. But this goes for every hobby.

The radio piece also features an interview with Lesley and Paul Coppin – two of the plane spotters arrested in Greece in 2001 on espionage charges. Naturally they talk about the frustrating side of the hobby, that is avoiding the natural assumption that you’re up to no good, and what makes it interesting for them.

Please have a listen to the interview at this link (9m 35s into the show): http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/b01hw3z7

Let me know what you think by commenting below. How do you feel about the hobby? Why do you do it? What problems does it raise?

Berlin Brandenburg Airport delayed till 2013

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Germany, Miscellaneous Spotting, Spotting News, Western Europe | Posted on 17-05-2012

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The opening of the new Berlin Brandenburg Airport is to be delayed till possibly April 2013 following delays in preparing the facility for its original 3rd June 2012 opening date.

Principal issues have come following tests with passengers which show that the throughput is only half of what is expected, and the number of check-in desks is vastly lacking.

The airport is also without sufficient fire cover, and facilities such as lounges, restaurants and retail are also not ready yet.

This has all come only three weeks before the main carriers at the airport – Lufthansa, Air Berlin and easyJet – were expected to begin their increased schedules from the new facility, having already started moving signage and equipment across from Tegel and Schonefeld airports, where they currently operate.

Lufthansa, who traditionally focus their hubs on Frankfurt and Munich, had announced a 40% increase in operations from Berlin with the opening of the new airport, and the basing of six Airbus A320 aircraft. The airline is now suggesting the airport doesn’t open until after the Easter holidays in April 2013. In the meantime, it will need to cram in the extra aircraft and routes from the existing Tegel Airport, which is vastly overcrowded, since it does not want to cancel the new routes (which have been selling well).
This is disappointing news from a country which prides itself on efficiency. I’ll do my best to keep you informed of developments and new opening dates when announced.Air Berlin, who will also increase the number of services from Berlin, has suggested that the new airport not open until the winter timetable begins at the end of October this year, to give the airport time to complete, and to then test it on the quieter timetable.