The executive aviation market is in full effervescence with new ideas, business models and innovative players trying to change the rules of the game...I discuss the arrival of the collaborative economy to the private jet industry and its future prospects on CNN Travel.
Every year airlines release some figures about their activities:number of passengers, of operations, revenues, expenses...
In addition to these, an airline in Russia, Ural Airlines, has released a set of "unusual" figures related to its activity during the year. For example:
Ural Airlines aircraft have worn out 904 tyres during 2014.
Its clients drank 663,000 litres of tea (according to airline sources, this is enough tea to fill up completely 22 A321 aircraft!) and eaten 102 tons of candy. These were distributed along with 13km of paper tissue.
And always check all your belongings before disembarking!...34 tablets, 38 cell phones, 7 laptops, 10 e-books and 2 photocameras were recovered by Ural Airlines crew after they were forgotten by their owners onboard the aircraft.
Other curious things that were found on-board: a radio-controlled aircraft, x-ray prints and 11 passports.
To put this numbers in context, Ural Airlines carried 5.16M passengers in 2014.
Following the success of the awesome European air traffic time-lapse video they released last spring, NATS, the organization that controls air traffic in the United Kingdom, has done it again.
This time is a spectacular time-lapse of air traffic over the British isles, including commercial, general aviation and military traffic.
Simply amazing! Watch it and think about it next time you are up in the air!
The "Golden Age" of commercial aviation is often seen with nostalgia in an era of congested airports and no-frills airlines, and few airlines are as iconic of that by-gone era as Pan American World Airways, most commonly known as, simply, "Pan Am".
Pan Am, that ceased operations in 1991 after years of decline, has not only been the object of TV Series, documentaries, books (by the way, I enthusiastically recommend the biography of Pan Am's founder, Juan Trippe, to anyone interested in the history of the airline industry) but it has also inspired quite an interesting business proposition: you can now pay to recreate the experience of flying in a Pan Am Boeing 747.
In order to do that you will need to get in touch with Air Hollywood, the "airline" that manages these "nostalgic flights".
In case you were wondering, the use of " " is not coincidental, since Air Hollywood is not really an airline, but a company that specialzies in providing airline-themed sets for films.
"Airplane!", "Lost" and the in-flight scenes of "The Wolf of Wall Street" were all filmed on Air Hollywood's film sets, and the company is now opening them up to the general public.
So the Pan Am experience goes like this: visitors start with a "cocktail hour", roaming freely through a Pan Am-themed space with memorabilia and 747 replica cabin.
Next they sit down for the core of the experience, a four-course "in-flight" dinner, which is actually a recreation of what passengers would have had on Pan Am's First Class in the 1970s. The waiters are dressed, of course, in 1970s Pan Am uniforms and the trays and all other items used during the dinner are also authentic.
So, while no flying is actually involved and the whole event is more of a dining night out than a proper aeronautical event, I am sure than many an aviation enthusiast will be thrilled by the prospect of feeling like a traveler of yesteryear...or so it seems, as you will need to book your Pan Am Experience well in advance: last time I checked all the remaining 2014 "Pan Am experiences" were already fully booked!
Here is a video KLM just published to celebrate its 95th anniversary.
Although it is, obviously, a commercial, I am posting it here because it depitcs many of the KLM-related topics we have been writing about in this blog over the last few years: KLM's position as the dean of European airlines, their early commitment to twitter as a customer service channel, their "Dutchness" as a marketing tool, Schiphol airport, KLM-themed games and apps and... even a last minute appearance of the venerable (and soon to be retired) MD-11!
"Festa al Cel" is the name of an air festival that takes place in Barcelona every year around the 24th of September, as part of the city's main annual festival.
This year the local airline, Vueling, sent one of its Airbus A320s to perform at the air display. Here is a video posted by Aerotendencias with some great footage of thsi air exhibition, the low level pass over the sea at minute 00:32 being my favourite moment!
By the way, the A320 doing the acrobatics is none other than an old acquitance of this blog, the "Linking Europe" A320 livery with the outline of some of the continent's most representative monuments.
And if you want to see what other crazy stuff an Airbus A320 can do, check out this Wizz Air low leel pass of downtown Budapest!
A bunch of airlines are reaching a venerable age, Air France turned 80 last year, Iberia is 87...but KLM, at 95, remains the oldest airline in the World in continuous operation.
Exploring the past of the Dutch airline is, thus, pretty much synonymous to revisiting the history of commercial aviation. The exhibition "Exploring KLM's 95-year journey", held at the Jan van der Togt Museum, a stone's throw from KLM's Amsterdam Schiphol base, is a nice way to do just that, as well as being also the place to preview what's ahead in the next few years.
You will need to hurry up, though, because the exhibition is open only until 12th October!
As one would expect of a country so enthusiastic about both football and aviation, here is a nice video of the Dutch football team departing for Brazil.
It not only depicts one of my favourite airports, Schiphol, but also a beautiful KLM Embraer E190.
By the way, I was surprised to see an E190 as the plane of choice for such a long flight, but, as is explained in this comment thread on Airliners.net (recommended to learn the airline logistics of every team taking part in the World Cup), the KLM CityHopper E190 flew the "Oranje" side only as far as Paris, where they took an Air France flight for the transatlantic hop.
(h/t to Yana Volkovich for uncovering this video!)
Since the demise of Malev in 2012, low cost carrier Wizz Air has been pretty much the flag carrier of Hungary.
It is maybe to highlight this connection with Hungary and its capital that one of Wizz Air's colourful A320s made this impressive low pass over the Danube and downtown Budapest, passing along some of the city's most famous landmarks like its iconic parliament building and the famous Chain Bridge.
It is not often that you see an airliner pulling such a stunt...Enjoy the views!
h/t to The Aviationist for uncovering this one
A few weeks ago I had the chance to fly for the very first time an iconic aircraft, a McDonnell Douglas MD-11 on the San Francisco-Amsterdam Schiphol route.
First, and, very likely last time for me, as well, because there are just four of them operating commercially and the only airline that operates them, the Dutch flag carrier KLM, plans to withdraw them by the end of 2014.
The MD-11, a more modern derivative of the DC-10 (that has also recently withdrawn from commercial service by the last airline operating it, Biman of Bangladesh) his easily recognizable because of its 3-engine configuration, that gave it a very characteristic shape.
Although it might not be as efficient or lack the amenities of more modern wide-body aircraft, I am sure, the three-engined airliner is going to be missed by the aviation enthusiast community!
This is doubtlessly one of the most spectacular time-lapse aviation related videos that I have seen so far (and I have seen quite a few of them!), put together by NATS, the UK air traffic control organisation.
Back to writing after a few weeks of (blogging) silence...!
This was not because there were no interesting news in the industry, but due to some personal and professional developments: I have recently started collaborating professionally with Dobrolet (Добролёт), Aeroflot's up and coming low cost carrier.
Those of you that read this blog regularly might already familiar with my interest in the Russian airline industry. No wonder then, that when the opportunity came up to join this new and exciting project (Russia is possibly the "last frontier" when it comes to low cost airline development!) I did not think twice.
Every good thing has usually a trade-off and, in this case, in being affiliated with an industry player means I am no longer an independent observer, but rather an industry insider. In practical terms this means that, for obvious reasons, I will very likely abstain from writing about topics upon which I have some type of direct or indirect professional involvement.
However, I plan to continue updating this blog in the measure of what's possible and sharing interesting stories and my views about this fascinating industry.
By the way, I would also like to take this opportunity to remind you that for more frequent updates and lots of aviation-related content (not only written by me!) you can also follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Music is a global industry and artists need, obviously, someone to carry them around.
Some like to pilot their own aircraft, like Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson, that likes to take command of an specially decorated Astraeus Boeing 757, or you can always call Denim Air, the Dutch airline contractor, or ACMI in industry-jargon, that we had the chance to present in this blog last summer.
This is the case of Dutch DJ and music producer Armin van Buuren, as Denim Air is providing a dedicated Fokker F50 aircraft with a special livery for its latest World tour. Planespotters be alert!
This weekend I had the opportunity to be interviewed by Steve Collins of Radio Roaming, an online radio station broadcasting out of Perth, Western Australia, and specializing on travel-related topics.
By the way, we talked mainly about the Russian commercial aviation industry.
Here is the podcast. Enjoy!
Is not everyday that you get featured on the cover of CNN International, so I thought I would share here the article that has been making the rounds...
It has been a pleasure sharing with CNN followers worldwide some insights from my recent trip to Toulouse, where I was able to visit the home of the Beluga and get on-board one of this amazing and really unique aircraft.
This is a fantastic video that Air Tahiti Nui, the airline of French Polynesia has put together showing all what goes on behind the scenes when their aircraft are operating.
Plus Air Tahiti Nui has one of the coolest liveries out there...
Barcelona airport is quite a unique case in Europe: its nearly 35M annual passengers make it one of Europe's top ten airports, yet it is visited by a relatively small number of wide-bodied aircraft. Or was it?
In reality the number of long-haul routes (and airlines flying wide-body aircraft) has been increasing at Barcelona airport., to the point that Emirates and Transaero have announced A380 flights from Dubai and Moscow respectively. Add to that the fact that some airlines respond to Barcelona's popularity as a tourist destination by adding capacity and flying larger aircraft during the summer months and the chances of seeing large aircraft at Barcelona airport increase are actually much larger than they used not long ago.
So I was curious to find out more about this topic: although staff at Barcelona airport were extremely helpful, hard data had to come from Aena's website (Aena is the public entity managing almost all Spanish airports) that is really a pain to use...and unbelievable enough there is no dedicated site for Barcelona airport.
However, there is a very active planespotting community in Barcelona and this is how I found what I was looking for. They say an image is worth more than a thousand words, so I thought it would be a good idea to share this video by Aerotendencias that summarizes quite well the current activity by wide-body aircraft at Barcelona airport, it only covers the first half of 2013, so the summer months, when activity peaks, are not included, but it is a very good illustration nevertheless!
Iberia has published on its corporate blog this very interesting video about what goes on in an aircraft during the night, when it rests at base.
With the name "Los aviones nunca duermen" ("Planes never sleep" in Spanish), you can see how ground crews take care of an Airbus cleaning and maintenance throughout the night...the video is in Spanish but, even if you don't understand the language, there is plenty of interesting footage of that part of airline operations you usually do not get to see!
As we are talking a lot about maps in this blog recently, I couldn't help but post about this very interesting and visually striking site called Contrailz.
What you will see on Contrailz is a visualization of air routes aroudn the World in an amazing blue/red pattern that gives it an almost artsy, surreal touch.
Having a slow day? Just watch this video of a night landing at Los Angeles International airport (LAX) with the accompanying music and I am sure you will get back to an energetic mood!