FlyBe seemingly is going to try again to crack the nut of London, and in the process return to London City Airport.


FlyBe Dash8 Q400 landing at East Midlands Airport – Image GhettoIFE

The airline will return to London City Airport after signing a five-year operational agreement with the airport, opening five routes in the process:

  • Belfast – Three times daily
  • Dublin – Four times daily
  • Edinburgh – Four times daily
  • Exeter – Three times daily
  • Inverness – Twice daily

The new routes commence on the 27th October, to be operated by one of FlyBe’s Bombadier Dash8 Q400s.

The routes will provide a link from the regions to the heart of London – part of FlyBe’s efforts to turn itself around into a profitable carrier, with a reasonable set of frequencies that can promote day trips to the city and beyond.  In addition, arriving and departing from London City Airport is very much a doddle with the Docklands Light Railways making easy connections to Canary Wharf and beyond.

FlyBe last served London City Airport when it operated services to the Isle of Man in 2005. Its return will bring it into competition with British Airways (on the London City – Edinburgh route) and CityJet (on the London City – Dublin route).

Flybe has been trying different things to get back on its feet, and this is a positive sign that they can do something different – and hopefully attract customers.

Tickets are on sale now for those who want to have one of the most thrilling approaches and take offs going.

What do I think of London City Airport? It’s one hell of an operation.  Have a look at my In-Depth Behind The Scenes trip to London City Airport to see how this amazing little airport operates.

Posted by Kevincm | No Comments

Azul Brazilian Airlines has been slowly working away, operating its fleet of Embraer E-Jet and ATR Turboprops, growing is domestic Brazilian operation for some time now.

Well today, it made a splash with an announcement the airline is to obtain eleven long-haul Airbus aircraft, with the aim of operating services United States of America.

For its long haul fleet Azul is to lease the following:

  • Six Airbus A330-200s, which will commence operations in 2015.
  • Five Airbus A350-900s, , which will commence operations in 2017.

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The future Azul Airbus Aircraft – A350-900 in the foreground, A330-200 in the background. Image Azul.

This will change the airline from a regional player to an international operation

Azul will lease the aircraft from International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC) for eight of the aircraft, and is negotiating over the lease or purchase of the remaining A330s. The plans will be powered by Rolls Royce Trent 700 and Trent XWB engines.

The planes are planned to be three class planes.

So who are Azul going up against? Well, there’s the LATAM combined airline (TAM) and Avianca Brazil who both run long haul international services, domestic and regional services in the area.  In addition, there are the big US carriers who are flying in and out of the area too.

This could be really interesting if the product can compete with TAM, Avancia and other international airlines who serve the region.

Price will also be a differentiator as it always is. Will the new aircraft give Azul a big push forward?

Time will tell. It is exciting though!

Posted by Kevincm | One Comment

If there’s one thing I like is simplifying my travels – and one thing that does help simply it a bit is Transport for London’s Oyster Card.

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My “current” Oyster card. I’ve lost count of how many of them gone through (although I have got enough webcredits out of TfL)

Now, if you’re visiting London for more than a few days, I’d strongly recommend you get an Oyster card – as paper tickets are expensive compared to Oyster tickets:

  • Oyster Card cost £5
  • Zone 1 to Zone 1 ticket (Cash) £4.70
  • Zone 1 to Zone 1 ticket (Oyster) £2.20
  • Saving = £2.50 a ticket

So you’ll need to buy two zone 1 tickets to recoup the cost of an Oyster. A more relevant example would be:

  • Oyster Card cost £5
  • Zone 6 (Heathrow) to Zone 1 (Central London) ticket (Cash) £5.70
  • Zone 6 (Heathrow) to Zone 1 (Central London) ticket (Cash) £5 peak, £3 off peak.
  • Saving = 70p to £2.70 a ticket.

So as you see, it’s pretty easy to recover the cost of your Oyster card quickly.

Oyster has been available on the Underground, Buses and trams for a while, with Rail services finally coming aboard from January 2010 (with SouthEastern High Speed, Heathrow Express and Heathrow Connect between Hayes and Harlington and the Heathrow Terminals as the exception).

However, Oyster is available beyond London too in limited destinations. These include:

  • Operated by c2c: Purfleet, Ockendon, Chafford Hundred and Grays
  • Operated by Greater Anglia: Brentwood, Shenfield, Boxeborne
  • Operated by London Overground: Watford Junction

A full map is at http://www.tfl.gov.uk/cdn/static/cms/documents/london-rail-and-tube-services-map.pdf. Be warned, that you must keep within the zones and destination in the map, or you could be hit for penalty fares (like someone did… and got stung for £42,550 fine for dodging fares by only touching once with their Oyster Card).

If your travels need to take you beyond Central London, it’s worth considering the rail networks. There’s more to London than just the centre of it…

… as there is more of the United Kingdom than London.

Posted by Kevincm | 3 Comments

It seems new airports seems to be jinxed with problems, with Berlin Brandenburg Airport being one that springs to mind. Another airport that has managed to shrug off delays is Doha’s Hamad International Airport.

Hamad International Airport (previously known as New Doha International Airport) has had a string of delays, but is seemingly almost ready to receive passenger planes now (the airport is receiving cargo service already).

The airport is configured with two runways, with the ablity to handle to 29 million annual passengers at its opening, made up of three concourses

New launch dates have been set, with the following set:

  • Soft Launch – 30th April
  • Full Opening – 27th May

The first carriers to move over from Doha International to Hamad International include Bangladesh Biman Airlines, flydubai, Air Arabia, Iran Air, Air India Express, Yemenia, Pakistan International Airlines, Nepal Airlines, Syrian Air and Pegasus Airlines.

Qatar Airways will be looking to move in to the new airport once lounges and most of the facilities are complete. Additional airlines should join the carriers at Hamad airport from the 27th May as operations from Doha International Airport are wound down.

In terms of distance, the two airports aren’t that far away from each other – about 4 miles. This should aid passengers who require onward ground transportation.

How the launch goes will be the interesting part. New airports and terminals have been ridden with problems in the past – hopefully Hamad International Airport should avoid some of these with a phased opening.

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It seems the orders for narrow body aircraft come thick and fast as Shandong Airlines are to order fifty Boeing 737 aircraft.

_MG_5591Shandong Airlines Boeing 737-800 at Seoul Incheon Airport. Image GhettoIFE.com

Shandong Airlines is owned by Air China, and operates both Chinese Domestic and International routes, with a fleet of Boeing 737-300s, 737-700s, 737-800s, Bombardier CRJ-200s and CRJ700s.

The airline also holds orders for the Chinese produced COMAC ARJ21 (in addition to the new Boeing 737 order).

16 Boeing 737-800s and 34 Boeing 737 MAX-8 are being discussed to form part of the order to drive its fleet and route expansion.

The order for the planes is subject to governmental approval.

Shandong Airlines appears to be on a march for growth as it goes into the future – as other Asian airlines consider their short and long haul strategies for maintain customers and profits. How other carriers plans go on will be an interesting thing to watch.

An interesting aside is that whilst Shandong Airlines have got 10 orders for the COMAC ARJ21, they hold no orders for planned Chinese domestic airliner that is planned to take on the Airbus/Boeing duopoly – the C919…

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It’s Easter Sunday, and its time for an Airplane art special.

This Sunday, it’s a British Airway Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner arriving at it’s home base at London Heathrow Airport (shot from a BA 787-8. Very meta).

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The images are clickable if you want to see a larger version – and yes you can keep them for your desktops!

More airplane art next week!


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First up… have a look at the video below:

YouTube Preview Image

The bags appear to be gate checked, and have promptly been tossed from the jetbridge down to the loading area

The location of the incident has not disclosed, but it’s made the media on CBC News.

Air Canada has given a response on the Youtube page:

We apologize for the totally unacceptable mishandling of our passengers’ baggage captured on video. We are in the process of identifying the employees involved whose employment will be terminated pending the outcome of our investigation. Their actions clearly contravened our standard baggage handling procedures which require gate-checked bags to be hand carried to the ramp.

We take matters involving the protection of our customers’ personal possessions very seriously. The actions of these individuals are not representative of the vast majority of our employees who work hard every day to take care of our customers.

The following appeared on Twitter too:

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https://twitter.com/roachjames/statuses/457506935953424384

Well, whilst this isn’t on the scale of United Airlines breaks Guitars, it does put forward a salient point when you gate check your luggage…

… do you know exactly what’s happening with it?

Posted by Kevincm | 3 Comments

It’s Saturday again, and it’s time to put your seatback in the upright position, ensure you luggage is in the overhead bin and your tray table is stowed as we go to this week’s video.

This week, for those of us who have flown aboard A380s (or with some airlines, Boeing 777s and A330s) one of the more interesting flying sights is the pilot’s view when coming into land. On some aircraft, they broadcast the landing sequence.

This video by PilotEye.tv takes it one step further, with the view inside the cockpit as they complete the final 10 minutes of the flight, landing into San Francisco International aboard the inaugaral Lufthansa Airbus A380 service.

YouTube Preview Image

It’s not a view often seen (and its a big get up with the amount of GoPro cameras mounted).. but its impressive.

Another video next week!


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Following Iberia’s lead, Lufthansa is to set about trialling a new “Print at Home” Luggage tagging service.

The service – known as “Home Tag” will be rolled out initially on the Frankfurt to Tokyo route.

The idea is you check in at home, then print your luggage tag too (for both outbound and inbound segments if you choose). You then take your prints to the airport, fold it in four and place it in a pouch. This is then attached to your luggage.

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A fully load home-tagged luggage item – Lufthansa Rimowa case not included. Image Lufthansa AG.

The printed luggage tag contains the required information  – flight route, passenger name, baggage item number, which is also encoded as a bar code, allowing the item to be scanned. Meanwhile the Hometag holder has an RFID chip that can be encoded with the details of the baggage.

For those who like to do everything at home, this could be a nice timesaver – requiring you to do the printing and then just drop the item off.

There’s a lovely demo video at Lufthansa.com with more on the system.


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Ryanair is opening a new base at Cologne Bonn Airport with five new routes joining the Ryanair network from October 2014.

Ryanair 737-800 taxing at Birmingham Airport – Image GhettoIFE.com.

The routes that will be joining the wide and far Ryanair network include:

  • Cologne to Dublin – Once Daily, Commences 26th October 2014
  • Cologne to London Stanstead – Twice Daily, Commences 26th October 2014
  • Cologne to Riga -  Three times weekly, Commences 28th October 2014
  • Cologne – Rome Ciampino, Once Daily, Commences 28th October 2014
  • Cologne – Madrid, Four times weekly, Commences 29th October 2014

All routes will be operated by the Ryanair fleet of Boeing 737-800s.

Cologne Bonn Airport is home to Germanwings, with them operating the bulk of the services there. Ryanair operates five services currently to Cologne (mainly from Mediterranean destinations).

Whilst it’s a minor attempt to irritate Germanwings, in a minor broadside attempt to grab traffic, it could be the start of a very interesting war between the two low cost carriers….


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The Boeing 737 series is by far the one of the best-selling airplanes in the sky. Today, that number was re-enforced as Boeing delivered the 8000th series aircraft.

The Boeing 737 has been through multiple iterations, from the initial 737-100, the 737-200, to the introduction of the 737 “Classic” series featuring the 737-300, -400 and -500 (featuring differing lengths and capacities), to the current 737 Next Generation series (featuring the short -600, the -700, the -800, -900 and -900ER), as well as being used for various military platforms.

The 8000th Boeing 737 delivered is a 737-900ER, and its owner will be United Airlines.

8000th 737 Renton B1 Take off United Airlines
The 8000th 737 in United Airlines livery – Image The Boeing Company

The plane is specially marked for the occasion with a logo on the side of the plane door:

8000th 737 Renton B1 Take off United Airlines
Special logo showing the 8000th plane – Image, The Boeing Company.

United and Continental have operated variants of the Boeing 737 fleet in the past, with the airline currently operating a mixture of the Boeing 737 Next Generation aircraft (the 737-700, 737-800, 737-900 and 737-900ER) – making up 264 of the airlines fleet.

These will be configured as two class aircraft, containing First Class and Coach, with an Economy Plus section aboard the plane.

For passengers, new aircraft are always welcome… and for the 737 programme – it’s another step forward as it marches on to the 737 MAX series of aircraft…


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