Spotting at Tarbes Lourdes Airport

Tarbes Lourdes Spotting Guide

Tarbes Lourdes is a regional airport in the south of France close to the Pyrenees, Andorra and the border with Spain. It is an airport worth visiting for spotters if you are in the area – not because of the regular aircraft traffic, but because it is an increasingly busy airport for storing and dismantling large airliners from around the world.

This guide to spotting at Tarbes Lourdes Airport will show you how to make the most of your visit and where the best places are for viewing aircraft.

 

The Airport

Tarbes Lourdes has a single, long runway, oriented 02/20. On the eastern side is the passenger terminal, general and business aviation terminal, and associated airport operations.

The western side is home to a large hangar and pans for parking aircraft.

The situation of the airport is quite spectacular, with the Pyrennees as a backdrop. It certainly helps liven up photographs, and there are a few locations to help with spotting on the ground.

 

Spotting at Tarbes Lourdes

Regular Traffic

Lourdes is a place of pilgrimage for Catholics and, as such, receives a regular stream of aircraft in relation to this. Pilgrims arrive on organised trips from airports all over Europe. These are usually flown on chartered aircraft from both French and international carriers. The mix is too varied and irregular to list here individually, but often includes airlines such as Air Medieterranee, Titan Airways, Germania, and Mistral Air.

Scheduled traffic is provided by Air France regional partner Hop!, which links to Paris a few times per day. TNT provides a cargo link.

In the summer there are a number of additional services by airlines such as Jetairfly, Enter Air, Ryanair, Air Nostrum, Albastar and Thomas Cook Airlines Belgium.

 

Storage

Tarbes Lourdes is now an important base for the storage and dismantling of airliners – in particular wide-body Airbus types, such as the A330 and A340.

Tarmac Aerosave operates a large hangar on the western side of the runway. This is the same company that operates the storage facility at Teruel Airport in Spain.

Many of the aircraft will find new homes, but a lot are also dismantled for spares on site, so it’s not uncommon to see fuselages and parts of aircraft lying around. One of the biggest problems I found whilst spotting at Tarbes Lourdes was the fact that many of the aircraft had their registrations removed, so it took a bit of effort to find some other identifying markings, such as fleet or construction numbers on the nosewheel doors. Many have also been given a temporary F- registration.

In addition to the aircraft stored on the west side of the runway, a number are also stored on a strip of apron to the south of the terminal.

On my visit there were 37 stored airliners visible, of which 27 were Airbus A340 variants (including the A340-600 prototype, F-WWCA). The rest were made up of Airbus A300 (2), A319 (1), A320 (1), A330 (3), Boeing 737 (2), McDonnell Douglas MD-80 (1).

 

Spotting at Tarbes Lourdes Airport

Spotting

There are a few places to spot at Lourdes. It’s best if you have a car, but not essential. This map gives you an idea of the best locations I found.

Tarbes Lourdes Spotting

Spotting location 1

1. This is the place to go if you don’t have a car. The road ramp leading from the car park to the departures level of the passenger terminal has a good, elevated view across to the storage area. Whilst it’s hard to see registrations from here, it gives you a good overview of what’s parked on the western side.

Tarbes Lourdes Spotting

Spotting location 2

2. If you have a car, drive from the terminal and keep going straight. You’ll come to a small roundabout. Instead of joining the motorway, take the first exit and follow the road around the perimeter. At the next roundabout, turn right into an industrial estate. Then turn right again at the T-junction. An area of wasteground here offers a good view of the line of stored aircraft along this part of the airport. It’s also a good place to watch any movements on the runway.

Tarbes Lourdes Spotting

Spotting location 3

3. Continuing along the perimeter road, take a right at the next roundabout. The road turns into pretty much a stone track here. Where it turns left towards Ossun, take a right and you’ll come to a crash gate. Don’t linger here too long, but you’ll be able to see a few more of the parked airliners.

Tarbes Lourdes Spotting

Spotting location 4

4. Continue along the track parallel to the runway (not towards Ossun). This will be hemmed in by tall crops in the late summer, but eventually you’ll reach the back of Tarmac Aerosave. You can’t go in, but there are fleeting glimpses of aircraft parked around the hangar here – especially of those being dismantled.

Driving on, across the railway line, will eventually complete the loop of the airport, taking you back to the terminal or the N21 motorway.

 

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Tarbes Lourdes is just one of over 300 airports to feature in my new World Airports Spotting Guides book. Find out more here: https://airportspotting.samcart.com/products/world-airports-spotting-guides

The book has detailed spotting locations, maps, spotting hotels, museums and much more.

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11 Responses

  1. do you have a list of all aircraft seen with registrations.thank you

  2. Matt Falcus says:

    Hi Malcolm, here’s a log from 17th September:

    LOG:
    N100CL 529 A300B4-622R(F)
    F-WJKN 242 A340-313X (Surinam Airways)
    JY-AIB 43 A340-212 (Royal Jordanian)
    JY-AIA 38 A340-212 (Royal Jordanian)
    JY-AIC 14 A340-212 (Royal Jordanian)
    JY-AID 22 A340-212 (Royal Jordanian)
    A340-313X (Cathay Pacific)
    A340-313X (Cathay Pacific)
    VP-BQY 140 A320-211 (Ural Airlines)
    EI-EJY 970 A330-223
    F-WHUJ 520 A340-541
    F-WXAE 471 A340-541
    F-WXAA 694 A340-541
    F-WJKL 499 A340-541
    F-WHUF 611 A340-541
    G-VNAP 622 A340-642
    V5-NMF 47 A340-312 (Air Namibia)
    V5-NME 51 A340-312 (Air Namibia)
    B-2389 243 A340-313X (Air China)
    F-WJKH 192 A340-313X (Air China)
    F-WJKM 201 A340-313X (Air China)
    F-WJKP 199 A340-313X (Air China)
    F-WHUG 457 A340-541
    F-WHUH 485 A340-541
    F-WJKI 608 A340-541
    F-WJKJ 478 A340-541
    F-WJKK 492 A340-541
    N835JM 259 A300B4-203(F) (DHL)
    F-WWCA 360 A340-642 (Airbus Prototype)
    I-DAVJ 49431/1377 MD-82
    N530MF 1703 A319-132 (BQB Lineas Aereas)
    9M-XAB 273 A340-313X
    OE-IEA 535 A330-203
    TC-SAF 737 (Anadolujet)
    TC-SAG 737 (Anadolujet)

  3. erik R says:

    LOG 05.04.2016:
    (not checked the ones mentined above is still “active” or already broken up – as i had bad weather i was not able to walk on the storage area (no 4):
    N583CB B733 (Viva Aerobus)
    F-HCOA B735 (Air Mediteranee)
    VQ-BRM A321 (Nordwind)
    PT-MVA A332 (TAM)
    PT-MVB A332 (TAM)
    EI-FMH A333 (Skymark)
    F-GITD B744 (Air France)
    F-GITJ B744 (Air France)
    EI-FMI A333 (?) – as per skyliner Interpid Aviation Partners
    F-GLZC A342 (Air France)
    VQ-BMQ B763 (Nordwind) plus two more – Regs not possible to spot:
    ZS-TBH CRJ (South African Express)
    2 x A342/3 Iberia
    B-HXC A343 (Cathay Pacific)
    G-VHOT B744 (Virgin Atlantic)
    F-WZNW A359 (Airbus)

  4. JUAN says:

    F-WJKH 192 A340-313X (Air China)
    F-WJKP 199 A340-313X (Air China)

    now belong to Avior Airlines Venezuela

  5. JUAN says:

    They are in the process of painting in Tarbes if you have pictures Make it come, please

  6. Darren Moore says:

    On the 23rd July 2016 i saw these aircraft that were also present at T.A.R.M.A.C Aerosave :
    CS-TQV 494 A310-304 (Whites)
    PT-MVC 247 A330-223 (TAM)
    HZ-AIW 28340/1138 747-468 (Saudia)

  7. Matt Falcus says:

    Thanks Darren!

  8. Yuri says:

    Could anyone perhaps post a picture of the V5-NME? This plane of Air Namibia performed the last flight of Sabena, which is bankrupt 15 years day on day. Thanks already!

  9. Werner Kutsche says:

    B-HXE (A340-313X Cathay Pacific, CSN 157) I believe is stored here. My partner & I flew on her on 19/08/2014 on flight CX279 from HKG to CDG. Sad to see her withdrawn from service. We will be visiting this area in Aug 2017, so will have to pay a visit to Lourdes airport. Hopefully she will still be there. Can anyone confirm whether she is here & any photos?

  10. jose roberto says:

    hello !!! I would like that anybody take a picture about A330 of the TAM airlines for exemplo PT-MVA, PT-MVB, PT-MVC AND PT-MVD… thank you for this

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