Spencer Bennett has provided this guide to spotting at Prague Vaclav Havel Airport. All pictures his own unless stated.
About Prague Airport
Prague Vaclav Havel Airport is the main gateway into the Czech Republic and its capital city Prague.
The Airport was previously known as Prague Ruzyne, but was renamed Prague Vaclav Havel Airport in October 2012 after the country’s first post-Velvet Revolution president. It is situated around 17 kilometres to the west of the beautiful city of Prague.
In 2019 the airport handled around 18 million passengers.
The airport is the home base for Czech Airlines as well as Travel Service and its subsidiary airline Smart Wings. Low cost operators Wizz Air and Ryanair also have aircraft based.
Prague is an exceptionally enthusiast friendly airport and offers two viewing terraces, one located in each terminal. Both look out onto the same area of the airport giving a view of the apron between Piers B and C from both terminals and also the predominant runway and taxiway.
The terrace in Terminal 1, which handles non EU / Schengen flights, is reached by taking a staircase up to a café and the terrace is an extension of the café with seating outside. This terrace looks directly over the stands used by some of the long haul flights into Prague and give visitors a close up view of these wide bodied airliners.
The terrace in Terminal 2 is situated upstairs and a short walk from the departure hall close to where terminal 2 adjoins Terminal 1.
The Terminal 2 terrace is probably the better bet for the enthusiast as it gives a better view of aircraft parked on piers B and C plus the movements on the runway and taxiway.
For the spotter, all movements will be seen at some point providing aircraft are using the main runway 13/31 (in either direction) as although both terraces give views of selected parking stands only, all aircraft will taxi past either on arrival or departure.
The cargo and business jet terminals cannot be viewed from either terrace but aircraft will been seen at some point either arriving or departing.
The photographer should fare well too. Although both terraces are behind glass, with care excellent shots of aircraft taxiing and parking can be obtained with focal lens of between 50-200mm. Photographs of aircraft departing or arriving are possible but require extra care and focal lens of 300mm at least.
Photographs are best in the morning to mid-afternoon when the sun is directly behind you.
Both terraces are situated outside with seating areas and whilst there are no facilities directly on either terrace, both have all you could need just a short walk back inside terminal including arrivals and departure boards, bars, restaurants, toilets and even a small supermarket downstairs from the Terminal 2 terrace.
The airport has thoughtfully put some information boards up to help visitors identity the different aircraft types that you’ll see.
What You’ll See
Prague offers an interesting mix of visitors for the enthusiast. Most major European carriers can be seen and also several low cost carriers too.
Links to former Eastern Bloc countries bring some unusual visitors to Prague with regular flights operated by S7, Aeroflot, Ural Airlines, Georgian Airlines, Air Ukraine, Belavia , Rossiya and Azerbaijan Airlines.
Long haul flights are operated by Delta Airlines to New York, seasonal flights to Canada by Air Canada Rouge and Air Transat. South Korea is well represented by both Korean Air and Czech Airlines flights to Seoul, whilst China is served by Sichuan Airlines. Bamboo Airways have postponed their new service to Hanoi till October 2020.
Emirates has a daily link to Dubai and competes directly with FlyDubai who have a daily 737-800 service.
Cargo services are operated by Turkish Cargo and Qatar Cargo amongst others.
Alternative Prague Spotting Locations
The airport has also provided some alternative viewing areas off-airport by constructing two raised viewing platforms giving closer views of the runway, although neither can be reached by foot from the terminal and require public transport or a car to reach.
The first spot was opened in 2012 close to the town of Hostivice and overlooks the intersection of runways 12/30 and 06/24. It is only possible to be reached on foot or bike and is around 4km from Hostivice.
The second spot is near the village of Knezeves. Look for a restaurant called V Mastali and follow a gravel path adjacent to a road called Na Stare Silinci Street. Bus number 319 runs from the Airport Terminal to the town of Knezeves.
The airport has also cut holes in the perimeter fence to help photographers in popular spots.
Also, bus tours of the airport (including the apron areas) are offered by the airport which need to be booked in advance via the airport website
Prague Spotting Hotel – Courtyard by Marriott
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