Christmas time action!

The holiday season at Perth Airport this year seems to be like no other! We have 4 x daily Singapore Airlines flights, additional services from Air Asia X, Emirates and Air New Zealand, plus Antonov 124’s and Atlas 747’s.

Plus, the new observation area opened on 16 December adding a fantastic facility for anyone interested in planes.

For the past couple of weeks, Air Asia X have operated supplemental flights 3 days per week, on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The flights arrive at 3.20pm, a great time for good light.
Air Asia X A330 9M-XXC

Since then Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines have started additional flights, taking SIA to 4 flights daily and ANZ to 2 daily.

Air New Zealand’s additional flight arrives around 9.00am and has been operated by their winglet fitted 767-300’s. A special treat, however, arrived on Saturday 17 December in the form of a 777-200ER, ZK-OKC.

‘Buy one get one free’ is always a good deal, and so seeing -OKC on a day when I was just expecting to see the Air Asia X was definitely something to remember.

Air New Zealand B777 ZK-OKC

Singapore Airlines has given the local spotters a Christmas treat with one of their extra flights being operated by the Boeing 777. For some time now SIA flights have been primarily operated by A330’s, so having the Triple 7 make a reappearance is a welcome addition to the Perth scene.

Boeing 777-212(ER) 9V-SQM, made its first visit to Perth on the morning of Sunday, 18 December. Local time was 6.00am . . . very early by anyone’s standards, especially mine!

Singapore Airlines B777 9V-SQM

Not to be outdone, Emirates operated an additional flight through Perth on the evening of 18 December when a Triple 7-300 made a refuelling stop en route Dubai from Sydney due to having a full load!

The 18th was a very busy day. In the early evening an Antonov 124, RA-82075 of Polet Airlines, arrived from Colombo, Sri Lanka. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get to the airport to see it, but hey, next time.

Then today, Monday 19th December, an Atlas 747 freighter arrived on charter to QANTAS. N492MC arrived at just before 7.30pm.

Meanwhile, the most significant event to happen in the world of Perth Airport spotting occurred on the 16th December when the new observation area opened to the public. The facility is the first dedicated, open air, public observation area in Australia and is similar to the facility at Munich in Germany, albeit on a smaller scale.

The facility has been eagerly awaited by local spotters and is the culmination of a project started at least four years ago. Locally resident aviation journalist Geoff Thomas has been instrumental in working with WAC (Westralian Airports Corporation) to bring this facility about and it is a tremendous bonus to those of us who enjoy seeing the action up close.

When runway 03 is active, great views of arriving and departing aircraft are possible with no obstructing trees or buildings. Plus, the facility is on the western side of the runway, so from around 11.30 in the morning aircraft will be in full sun. It doesn’t get much better than that! Combined with Perth’s famously blue skies you have a formula for some great photo opportunities.

So, a big thanks to Geoff and WAC for having the determination and foresight to make it happen!

Finally, an update on new aircraft, services and airlines.

QANTAS recently started operations with Bombardier Dash 8 Q-400’s. Flights are operating initially to Geraldton and Exmouth with additional destinations coming. QANTAS is the first operator to use the 400 version of the popular Dash 8 at Perth and makes for another welcome addition to the airport.

China Southern commenced scheduled operations on November 9th using Airbus A330’s. The airline links Perth to Guangzhou on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays arriving at 6.00am, which although very early, offers great early morning light. Check the photo’s taken on 18 December on my ‘Perth International Airport’ page under ‘Aircraft Photos’.

Another piece of great news came recently when Qatar Airways announced fights to Perth starting in July 2012. Arrival time is expected to be around 6.30pm, which in July will mean it’s dark, but as we move into spring and summer they will be a fantastic sight in the evening sun. I can’t wait!

Initial services will be operated by Airbus A330’s three days per week then switching to a daily Triple 7 at some point in October. I just hope we get some A330’s in daylight before the switch to 777’s takes place!

As much as Qatar’s announcement was great news, bad news came from Brunei Airlines when they announced the end of flights to Perth as of 27 October. Their final flight was made by an Airbus A320 and marks the end of a long association with Perth.

I flew Royal Brunei to London in 1994 on a 757 and 767, so have first hand experience of flying with the airline. At the time they offered great fares, the only drawback being the routing: Perth – Bandar Seri Begawan – Singapore – Abu Dhabi – Heathrow. Great for all the take-offs and landings, but a bit testing on the patience, even for a plane spotter like me!

Regardless, Royal Brunei will be missed and I wish them good luck with their operations.

Another new aircraft type recently in Perth and due to become a resident type is the ATR-72. Skywest will be operating a number of the type in conjunction with Virgin Australia serving regional centres in WA starting some time in 2012. The aircraft will be painted in Virgin Australia colours and will add another dimension to Perth’s operations.

Lastly, Strategic Airlines rebranded as Air Australia in November, complete with a great new livery. Keep an eye on my ‘Aircraft Photos’ page for pics.

So, a lot of things happening at Perth and an indication of the rising number of passengers and flights through Western Australia’s primary airport, due in no small part to the booming mining industry – long may it continue!

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