Because it’s my blog I can selfishly indulge in publishing some of my airport snapshots on a slow news Monday!
I’d hoped to get more at Helsinki, but it was either dark on the way out or there was a lack of time on the way back!
I’d hoped to get more from Hong Kong, but we were out of the airport so fast and actually viewing aircraft in a thunderstorm of “world has ended” proportions, not so viable!
This was a sea journey. I had always wanted to arrive in Japan, and Taiwan, for the first time, the old-fashioned way, the way explorers arrived in the years before the jet age shrank the world.
I never expected to see Taiwan’s main airport as it was too far south, but watching an A330 thunder over the roof tops of old Taipei while visiting a Buddhist temple, shattering the peace and quiet as it approached the cities old airport, caused me some mirth, even if it scared the crap out of some of the other visitors who weren’t expecting it. From the top of the Taipei 101 Tower – an extraordinary edifice and the tallest building in the world from about 2002-2009, they actually fly beneath you!
It wasn’t until we reached Japan – a country I am now utterly in love with – that Tokyo at the end of our time there, offered up some really different aviation fodder for me.
For one, we sailed past Tokyo Haneda airport on the way in to Tokyo Bay. I just happened to wake up in time and go out on deck. It’s such a small facility and entirely reclaimed land, but the demand from international airlines to get access to its ultra-limited slots never ceases. It’s as central Tokyo as it gets and Narita, as we found, is an hour or more out of the centre on a traffic free Sunday at 6am.
So lets start at good old London Heathrow and move on….I’m not the worlds greatest spotter but then you already know that! iPhone X for snaps and my trusty hyper optical zoom Fuji is all that’s available. But if you like aircraft, you’ll look, even if its just out of curiosity!
Heathrow has so many long haul airlines, it’s considered the most internationalized airport in the world. The days of Qantas A380’s to the UK are now running down, so it’s nice to see them on the odd chance I get. There’s already only one a day now rather than two, replaced by the 789 service. ElAl’s 744’s will be gone by years end 2019. Virgin Atlantic’s A346’s are on the way out. Seeing G-VNAP in the metal you realise how white the non-pearl paint actually is! Qatar’s new A350-1000, Lufthansa’s new livery, and it was wonderful to see the BA retro livery for real. Their remaining 744’s will be slipping away to the scrap yard between June 2019 and 2023. Nothing stays the same.
The next set starts with a couple at Haneda as we sailed past. Solaseed Air, Air Do, and ANA 737 – two I’ll never see outside of Japan, so a real treat even if the the photos are distant snaps. Then on to Narita, where we were very much on the OneWorld and non-aligned side of the airport for the most part (Terminal 2) – until they slipped in the Air India 788 VT-ANY right next to the Qantas lounge window. Another oddity in there is a United 737-800, which I quickly realised can only have come from Guam. Great shot of a Swiss A343, on one of the few routes still operated with the type. Another is the OneWorld American 772, which happens to be N796AN (a Gemini 1:400 in the collection), also included JA13KZ an NCA 748F also in the collection. The ANA Cargo 767F’s were in situ as it was a public holiday and they were going nowhere until Tuesday. Never seen an Uzbekistan anything before, plus JetStar Japan and Vanilla Air. Add to that a Korean Jeju Air and a pair of Thai A333’s, a smattering of Singapore A380’s and Cathay 773ERs with all the JAL Dreamliners and it was an interesting if quiet Sunday. Nowhere, not even Tokyo Narita is quite like the manic nature of Heathrow. Helsinki is like a tomb it’s so quiet off-peak. And yet there was OH-LZG – the one Finnair A321 that turns up every time and I cross paths with, at Heathrow, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Vienna and Helsinki itself!