Friday, 15 July 2016

Farnborough 2016

So the orders from Farnborough 2016 are in, and the main deals (orders, MoUs and LoIs) are as follows:

12x A350-1000 for Virgin Atlantic
4x A330-900neo for Arkia Israeli
1x A320neo for Cote D'Ivoire
10x A320ceo for Jetstar Pacific
25x A320neo for Germania
100x A321neo for Air Asia
72x A320neo for GoAir
62x A320neo for Synergy
Norwegian change 30 of their 100 A320neo to the A321neoLR
DHL have signed up as the launch customer for the A330 P2F programme

30x 737-8MAX for Xiamen
25x 737-8MAX for Donghai
5x 787-9 for Donghai
10x 737-800 for Standard Chartered
10x 737-8MAX for TUI
1x 787-9 for TUI
10x 737-7MAX for Kunming
20x 747-8F for Volga Dnepr
6x 787-9 for Ruili
20x 737-8MAX for Air Europa
9x 737-800 for Egyptair

10x MRJ for Rockton
90x ARJ21 for AVIC and CALC (Chinese lessors)
5x E190-E2 for Kalstar
6x E195-E2 for Arkia Israeli
4x E190 for Nordic AC
3x Dash 8-Q400 for Porter

So overall not the best show in history but some significant orders nonetheless, with Airbus the clear winner in terms of numbers. Other intriguing developments include Boeings announcement to stretch the 737-7MAX by 2 rows, and the arrival of the CS100 at Luton  - could EasyJet order the C-Series?

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

RIAT 2016

Last weekend I visited the Royal International Air Tattoo - here are some pics!

An Australian Royal Air Force A330 tanker
The Breitling wingwalkers
The Airbus A400M
The Red Arrows in formation with a Typhoon and F-35B

An Osprey
The F-35B Lightning, the new STVL stealth jet, to be the mainstay of many air forces around the world. Security was tight!

Friday, 8 July 2016

Jet2 to open Birmingham base

Jet2, one of the UK's largest low cast carriers, will open a base at Birmingham next summer with 4 newly delivered 737-800s. 15 sun and sea destinations will be on offer, to Spain, Portugal, Cyprus and Greece:

This is an interesting move and continues Jet2's southwards expansion. None of the new routes are new to BHX, indeed, all of them are already served by more than 1 carrier - competition on some routes is between 7 (yes 7!) carriers, e.g. Malaga with Monarch, Jet2, Vueling, Thomson, Thomas Cook, Ryanair and Norwegian. It may be good for competition, driving down prices, but I can't see it lasting. With Monarch, Ryanair and the charter carriers being firmly established, I predict Jet2, Vueling or Norwegian, relative newcomers tot he midlands market, will be the first to cut routes or capacity.

Coming soon - the Royal Air Tattoo, Farnborough, and potentially an exciting discovery at CERN!

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Trip Report: Vienna and the Austrian Grand Prix

Travel time, and a new country to add to my list, Austria, home of Wiener Schnitzel and Apfelstrudel! The reason for the this 3 day adventure? Partly for the travel, partly to see the Austrian F1 Grand Prix.

London-Heathrow (LHR/EGLL) to Vienna (VIE/LOWW) OS454 
Austrian Airlines Airbus A320 OE-LBX (Star Alliance livery)
Out outbound flight went like clockwork - security was swift, and despite a slight delay in departure, we ended up arriving bang on time. The sky was full of ominous looking showers which you can see in the video below, but we skirted round those! The service onboard was a free snack and drink, not bad considering that this was the cheapest option we could find to get to Austria and back (beating even Ryanair, Eurowings and EasyJet!).

The 2 hour journey was largely uneventful, apart from a 10 minute rough patch during the descent  - there were torrential thunderstorms later that night. Overall, I'd happily fly Austrian again. Here's the flight:

...and here's the routing, courtesy of flightradar24:

The Stay in Austria
Vienna is a large city, and Wien Hbf (the main railway station) is nowhere near the city centre! It's a good 30-40 minute walk, and I'd highly recommend getting a U-bahn (underground) day pass instead. For 6 euros, you get unlimited travel on the U for the that day. Alternatively, you could get the CAT train to Wien Mitte, which is more central (but further from the hotel we'd booked).

On the evening of arrival, it was 30 deg +, and so after gorging on wiener schnitzel...
we hid in a cafe and watched the Italy-Germany match! Unfortunately that meant we got caught in a downpour on the way back, but hey.

Day 2 was all about the race - we got up early and headed south with OBB railways toward Knittelfeld, near Spielberg, Styria, the location of the Red Bull Ring. The journey was interupted and we were told to get off at Gloggnitz - apparently, the rain from the night before had caused a landslide and the line was closed. To their credit, the buses were waiting as soon as we left the station. The issue was that the train at Bruck (to take us to Knittelfeld) was delayed by 1 hour... we flirted with the idea of a taxi (and met a nice group of New Zealanders!) but decided not, with fares as high as 250 euros. Luckily, the delay was 1 hour and no more, and we got there with plenty of time to spare.

The pre-race airshow got underway shortly after our arrival...

The insane flying bulls...

And then, it was time! Lights out and away we go!!

What else would you drink in a place like this?

A good view of the track from up here!

An epic win for Hamilton - being on turn 2, we saw Nico and Lewis approaching the bend side by side - they went out of view - and then they appeared, Lewis ahead, with Nico's car showering sparks! What a final lap!

After all that excitement, the 200Km journey back was sleepy, but despite another bus change, we weren't too late getting back to Wien Hbf. 

Day 3! Time to investigate the city of Vienna. My impressions were that it was very clean, the architecture was fancy, and some of the people were either unfriendly or trying to fleece you. For example - on the train back, a woman wouldn't move out our reserved seats, we were ushered out of a museum because "our bags were too big" (we had to leave entirely as they wouldn't fit in the lockers), some refugees conned us out 10 euros (for a rose!) and a waiter gave us a 5 minute lecture on why they're paid badly and should get a large tip. Suffice to say we didn't tip him. I'm sure most the folk there are friendly, and maybe a group of 4 'lads' gives people the wrong impression, but I have to say it was the least friendly place I've brexit feelings maybe?!

Regardless, the city itself was nice. We visited Demel cakes, the palace, and the aforementioned war museum. 

Alas, it was soon time to head back to Wien flughafen.

Vienna (VIE/LOWW) to London-Heathrow (LHR/EGLL) OS457
Austrian Airlines Airbus A320 OE-LBS (Eurovison livery)
The check in and security was once again rapid with no complications. I was disappointed to find that all the seats had been chosen and we were stuck without window places, but never mind! Once we got into the terminal 3 G gates departure lounge however, we had a nasty surprise - a 2 hour delay! I immediately took to flightradar24 to find out what our scheduled aircraft had been up to. That day it had flown Sofia-Vienna-Cairo-Vienna and had arrived on time from that last leg, so it wasn't our aircraft that was the problem. I looked at the Vienna arrivals, and there was one delayed arrival - from Larnaca - which was due 2 hours late. So that was it - the crew were late inbound! Interestingly, two other flights were also delayed by 2 hours, perhaps the Larnaca crew were going to disperse across them?

Once we started boarding, the reason was indeed given as a late crew arrival, and we set off for our night flight across Europe, landing at 23:45 BST (scheduled as 21:30). The service on this flight was 3 rounds of free drinks - to make up for the delay perhaps? The routing, with arrival on 27R:

Overall then, Vienna was a nice looking city, and Austria a nice country, particularly down in the alps. The F1 was certainly an experience, and with ticket+flight+hotel being the same price as a Silverstone ticket, it just made sense to go abroad to watch a race. Shame about the few unfriendlies we met, and the travel delays, although these were dealt with well. As for Austrian Airlines, like Aer Lingus, British Airways, Air France etc, they are decent flag carrier with competitive fares who I'd happily fly with again.