Qantas Airbus A330-200 aircraft now feature the upgraded business class cabin ’“ Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter
Over the last 18 months, Qantas has been progressively upgrading their business class product on their Airbus A330-200 aircraft. The new business suites bring the product in line with the ever-increasing trend of direct aisle access for all business class passengers, as well lie flat beds — a first for Qantas on the domestic market. The upgraded A330-200 cabins are configured with 28 lie-flat seats in a 1-2-1 configuration that can remain in the recline position during takeoff and landing.
It has been quite some time since I last had the opportunity to fly domestically in business class with Qantas, and with my annual trip to Australia, I thought I would burn some Qantas frequent flyer points to check out their new business suites on the popular Sydney-Melbourne route, a very short 95-minute flight.
Airnorth operates a fleet of E120 Brasilias on the “centre run” and shorter regional routes – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter
Following my excellent flight on Airnorth’s jet service from Cairns to Darwin, where I got my first real taste of outback flying in Australia, I was left longing for more outback adventures. When I was planning my trip to Darwin, I came across the “centre-run” operated once again by Airnorth. This was the perfect opportunity for me to not only get my fix of outback flying, but also to experience the Embraer E120 Brasilia for the first time – an increasingly rare aircraft type. At one point in the booking process, I did have to question my sanity. Due to time constraints, I could only do a flight same day return, meaning that I would be flying over 1600 miles in nearly eight hours on a turbo-prop in the Northern Territory’s wet season. Needless to say, my AvGeek mentality took over and I booked the flight without a second guess.
A long way to go in a turbo-prop – Image: Great Circle Mapper
The “centre run” (or “milk run” as referred to by the locals), is a three segment flight from Darwin (DRW) in the top-end to Alice springs (ASP), in Australia’s Red Centre. On the way, the flight stops at Katherine (KTR) and Tennant Creek (TCA); both are key regional communities located on the Stuart Highway which stretches across the continent from Darwin to Adelaide. The route was re-launched in September of 2014 as part of the Northern Territory government’s commitment to developing air services to remote communities. In order to maintain this essential air service, the route is currently subsidized by the government.
Airnorth operates a fleet of Embraer E-170 jets on the longer regional routes – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter
In a country as vast as Australia, it is no surprise that the population relies heavily on air transport, particularly in the more remote regions of the country. For the residents in these regions, these air services provide a vital lifeline. In many regions of Australia, these remote air routes are subsidised by the government. While the local residents view these services as an essential link to the outside world, for the AvGeek, it is a unique opportunity to experience some interesting aircraft types, airlines, and routes.
One such flight route that I was fortunate enough to experience recently was from Cairns to Darwin, via Gove. While there are at least three direct flights per day from Cairns to Darwin on the other carriers, I was very interested to try out the service offered by Airnorth.
Airnorth was established in 1978 and has always had a strong focus on providing air services within the remote regions of Australia’s top-end. In recent years, the company has been focusing in particular on the contract charter market, as well as FIFO operations.
The highlight of the show, the Etihad A380 – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter
Ever since I booked my trip to attend the Dubai Airshow, I had been quietly hoping that Etihad would bring their flagship A380 to the static display. This was, however, a long shot, as Etihad only has four A380s in service; to take one out of service for an airshow is a big ask. Emirates had confirmed sometime out that they would have an A380 on static display, as did Qatar Airways, but these two models did not excite me nearly as much as the Etihad A380.
Boarding the Etihad A380 for the media tour – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter
I could barely contain my excitement, when on the first day of the airshow, Etihad confirmed their A380 would make an appearance the following day! As the aircraft was only scheduled to remain at Al Maktoum Airport for a few hours before returning to Abu Dhabi, it was my first priority to go see this aircraft.
We met with the PR staff at the Etihad chalet and they were more than willing to give us a tour of the aircraft, even driving to the display from the chalet in custom-branded golf carts — talk about a VIP experience.
Runners at the CLT Runway 5K Run/Walk – Photo: Rob McKenzie | City of Charlotte
The vast majority of any given airport’s footprint is dedicated to a region which fills the dreams of many aviation enthusiasts. The appeal of this magical venue (which goes by many names) enchants fans across the full spectrum of “AvGeek.” It’s a stage for incredible photography. It’s where airplanes sleep, where a lucky few get to work, and the general public is almost universally prohibited.
Runners cross the threshold of IAD’s 19L – Photo: J. David Buerke | Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority
The Aircraft Operations Area (AOA) is sterile and secured, yet something the flying public sees every day. Despite being ubiquitous, few get the chance to experience it first-hand. You can look, but don’t touch. Thankfully, there are exceptions to every rule and we’ve got a list of upcoming events.
Occasionally, airport operators open their gates to the masses, in support of community-engagement events. These rare occasions are an excellent opportunity to connect with aviation officials and fellow enthusiasts. More importantly, they are an excuse for plane lovers to geek out like a preteen on their first visit to Disney World. Grab your telephoto lens and lace up your running shoes, because we’re going for a runway run!