Frankfurt still offering airside tours. It’s great!

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, Frankfurt, Germany, Western Europe | Posted on 12-11-2011


Frankfurt is one of the world’s busiest airports, yet they still think of the enthusiast and people who are interested in how an airport runs.
Their airside tours have been running for many, many years. They used to operate from the Terminal 1 viewing deck (remember the DC-8 nose section where the tour started? It’s still there by the way).

Today, you can still take a tour at one of the set times between 11am and 4pm. It costs €8 for adults and lasts around 45 minutes. It will take you on a bus tour of airside areas, including Terminal 1, Terminal 2, maintenance areas and taxiways.

To take the tour, head for the Frankfurt Airport Centre in the corridor between Terminals 1 and 2. Follow signs for the Airport Experience Tour. Here’s the link to the official information page

Berlin Brandenburg Airport gets a boost from Lufthansa

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Germany, Western Europe | Posted on 09-11-2011


When Berlin’s new Brandenburg Airport opens on 3rd June 2012, it will be blessed with 29 new routes from national carrier Lufthansa – a clear sign that the airport will bring about a new era for air travel to the city.

Today, Lufthansa’s network to Berlin Tegel Airport is limited to domestic and a few European services. However, when the airline moves to the new airport on its opening day, it will introduce 130 new flights each week. New destinations include:

Turkish revolution – time to head to Istanbul!

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Eastern Europe, Spotting News, Turkey | Posted on 05-11-2011


Turkish Boeing 737-800I just read something on the great site that really interested me. But it also pleased me because it confirmed something I’d noticed without paying too much attention. Turkish Airlines (THY) are on the up – big style!

I’ve been occasionally aware lately of how the airline has been expanding its route network, adding more frequencies and destinations, and upgrading its fleet. I hadn’t even realised that they had another 60 Boeing 737-800s on order – that’s going to be a massive fleet of the type when all are delivered.

It seems that Turkish want to leverage their position to take on the big guns in the Middle East (Emirates, Qatar and Etihad) by turning Istanbul Ataturk Airport into a staging post between East and West, much like we see in Dubai, Doha etc. But whilst the big carriers use mainly larger widebody fleets (especially Emirates), Turkish sees its geographical location as a much better place to operate the smaller Boeing 737-800s from an increasing number of European, Middle Eastern and African destinations, feeding through its Istanbul hub.

“Right now, Turkish serves around 70 cities in Europe, but with over 60 737-800s on order, this will double” promised Dr Temel Kotil, President and CEO Turkish Airlines, in a recent interview with

And to prove the point, Turkish has remained more profitable through the recession, and gone from 10 million passengers per year in 2006, to 30 million today. It will soon take over British Airways as third biggest European carrier.

So it’s probably time to start thinking about what kind of airport Istanbul Ataturk will be for the enthusiast in years to come. Plenty of red tails, for sure. But plenty of action as well.

Watch out Finland spotters, Flybe’s landed

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Finland, Spotting News, Western Europe | Posted on 04-11-2011


Flybe Nordic has now started operations from its Helsinki base and has its sights set on dominating the regional market in the Finnish and Baltic market.

It is initially starting 24 routes, two of which will be from the smaller base at Tallinn in Estonia. These routes cover the domestic network in Finland, and routes to Sweden, Norway and Poland (as well as Estonia). More routes are due to be added in December.

The airline has taken over Finncomm Airlines. I believe their existing fleet of ATR aircraft will still be used initially, but ultimately Flybe’s DHC-8-400 aircraft will be taking over.

It will be interesting to see how aggressively they expand and pursue other routes in Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, and whether this will have a knock-on effect on other airlines in the area. It will also be interesting to see what effect it has on Helsinki and Tallinn airports in terms of movements and passenger numbers, and whether it has a big impact on Finnair, who have involvement with the airline.



Chicago Midway Buffer Zones to be created

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in North America, USA | Posted on 02-11-2011


Southwest Airlines Flight 1248 overran the runway at Midway in 2005, killing a childFour areas of land around Midway Airport are to be acquired to help make the airport safer. Chicago City Council made the announcement this week.

In 2005 a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 slid off the runway and killed a young boy in a car whilst landing in snowy conditions. The nature of the airport’s location means it is hemmed in on all sides by roads, commercial premises and residential neighbourhoods.

Although limited runway safety zones exist to aid in stopping overruns, it is hoped that by adding an additional buffer area it will further prevent any more loss of life should an accident occur again.

Naturally there are some who feel the compulsory purchase of some historic premises is not welcome. However it seems the council will definitely be going ahead with the plans.

One option is to create areas of parkland in the new buffer zone, which holds the tantalising prospect of new public areas to watch aircraft coming and going at Chicago Midway. We shall wait and see.

What do you think of the plans? Do you live nearby?

Phoenix Airports – A Spotting Guide

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, North America, USA | Posted on 01-11-2011


Arizona is a great place to visit if you’re an aviation enthusiast. Not only does it have a couple of major airports, but it’s also home to many storage bases and the incredible AMARG collection at Davis Monthan AFB near Tucson.

Phoenix is the largest city in Arizona, and it has a number of airports in its vicinity that are easy to visit and definitely worth stopping by. Below, I’ve listed a few details of each, but please feel free to comment with your own opinions and details.

Phoenix Sky Harbor International
This is the main airport of the state, and certainly the busiest. It is a hub for US Airways and Southwest Airlines. All major US airlines, both passenger and cargo, visit daily, and there is a large enthusiast community who ensure the hobby is accepted. Try the top level of the car park for some good views.

Technically another city, but you’d never know. Scottsdale is situated to the east of Phoenix, and it’s airport is a busy base for executive jets. You can view movements from the airport’s perimeter roads, and see aircraft on the ground from the main terminal area.

Ryanair adds Karlsruhe Baden-Baden base

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Germany, Spotting News, Western Europe | Posted on 27-10-2011


Ryanair surprised a few people today by announcing a new base is to be set up at Karlsruhe Baden-Baden airport in Germany. This will be their 47th base, and their 4th in Germany, but it comes after they made a big fuss about the German government’s imposition of passenger taxes and threatened to pull out many routes.

Ryanair already serve 12 destinations from the airport, so the addition of seven more routes and two dedicated Boeing 737-800 aircraft based there is not going to cause too much to shout about for the spotter. But it is nevertheless good news for the airport, which is currently Germany’s 18th largest.

The new base will take effect from March 2012. The new destinations are: Faro, Malaga, Palma, Riga, Thessaloniki, Vilnius and Zadar.

What do you think of this news?

Goodbye easyJet 737s

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Western Europe | Posted on 25-10-2011


On 31st October easyJet will finally retire the last two examples of its Boeing 737 fleet.

The airline was one of the first low-cost carriers in Europe to take on the model of Southwest Airlines in the USA. This model was based around a single-fleet of Boeing 737 aircraft, and was adopted by other airlines such as Ryanair.

easyJet started with leased 737-200 models in 1995, but later acquired -300s (including those of carrier Go Fly, which it acquired in 2002) and then Next Generation -700s.

However, the 737 is no longer the only cheap and efficient short-to-medium haul airliner on the market in this seat category. Today, the Airbus A319/20/21 is just as good. In the early 2000s, easyJet started ordering the A319 model in large numbers, and we saw the Boeing 737s being retired.

Recently only a few have been left in service, flying from the airline’s London Luton base. Now they are to disappear.

It remains to be seen whether easyJet will revert in the future to another order for a Boeing product, such as the re-engined 737MAX. Their A319 deliveries have now been completed.

I personally have flown on many of the airline’s 737 flights around Europe and personally thought the livery looked very good on them. It is sad to see them go!


Frankfurt’s 4th runway opens

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Germany, Spotting News, Western Europe | Posted on 21-10-2011


Today, 21st October 2011, is the day Frankfurt/Main Airport opens its new 4th runway to operations.

The project has seen the new 25R/07L and its associated taxiways built with German precision and efficiency to the north-west of the airfield. It is shorter than the other runways at the airport, and will be used mainly for commuter and smaller airliner arrivals to ease pressure on the other runways.

This will make things a little more interesting for the spotter, and no doubt it will bring about some new places to spot from as enthusiasts explore.

The previous runway 25R/07L is now designated 25C/07C.

If you’re at Frankfurt any time soon, let us know what it’s like with the new runway in operation.

And if you’re a member of the UK Government – look, a 4th runway at a major airport. Opened with very little trouble or opposition. Why can’t we do the same for our busy hubs?

Ryanair announces Wroclaw base

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Eastern Europe, Poland | Posted on 20-10-2011


And the 43rd Ryanair base will be….  Wroclaw, Poland!

The airline already flies 15 routes from Wroclaw, but made the announcement yesterday that it will be basing a Boeing 737-800 aircraft at the airport from Summer 2012, and also opening 6 new routes.

These are:
- Bournemouth, UK
- Chania, Crete
- Malmö, Sweden
- Malta
- Paris Beauvais, France
- Venice Treviso, Italy