Air Nostrum: Island Hopping

Air Nostrum are a regular sight when flying into or out of the Balearic Islands. Their mixed fleet of Turbo Prop and Jet engine aircraft fly in the colours of Iberia Regional and connect both passengers and cargo to destinations that aren’t always on the beaten track. On my recent trip to Spain, I flew with Air Nostrum between Ibiza and Palma, to experience what life is like on these sometimes essential services.

Always wanting to get the best possible deal, I used Momondo to find the cheapest flight price!

Despite lying only a 40 minute flight away, the islands of Ibiza and Mallorca are a 2 hours away from each other by ferry. With locals having to travel between the two Islands often to see family, for work or to collect essential supplies for everyday life; the air services that are provided are vital to some Island residents.

The ‘retro’ style information boards in Ibiza
ib8111 ibiza – palma de mallorca:

When booking my flight I was supposed to be flying on the Bombardier CRJ1000. Just a few days before my departure however, I received an email from Iberia notifying me of a change to my itinerary. My flight would now be on a ATR 72-500, Operated by Canaryfly for Air Nostrum on behalf of Iberia!

The day of the flight came and I arrived at Ibiza Airport one hour before my departure. With the peak holiday season not yet underway across Europe, I was expecting the airport to be quiet but getting air side in 5 minutes was a surprise to me. With some sections of security closed for refurbishment, I can imagine that there are some delays when the airport is operating at full capacity.

Large sections of Security and the Departures Hall are sectioned off.

With some gift shops and food outlets, I had soon explored all of the departures lounge and was glad to hear that Iberia Flight 8111 was now ready for boarding at Gate 5. The gate agents invited families, passengers requiring special assistance and priority passengers to board first. Then came the turn of any passengers sat in rows 20 – 10, the finally my self and my fellow passengers sat in rows 10 – 1.

As I approached the desk, my mobile boarding pass was scanned and my cabin baggage was tagged to go into the hold as it was too large to be placed into the overhead locker. That’s when the problem started…

The doors to the tarmac are controlled by magnetised locks and a key card access panel. As passengers were boarding the doors were naturally open but they returned to the closed position as the last group of passengers arrived. With her card not working on the panel, the gate agent rang a colleague and explained the situation to them. After a five minute wait, an engineer arrived and after a few seconds pressing buttons on the panel, I got the impression that he had come to the conclusion that the door was broken. After another phone call and wait, the door on the adjoining gate was opened so that we could make our way to the aircraft.

Boarding EC-KRY from the rear steps

As I boarded the 10 year old ATR, I took to seat 3A that I had pre-booked for free when checking in on the Iberia App. Immediately after sitting down, I began the struggle of getting comfortable is this rather cramped seat with very little legroom. The interior for this whole aircraft was dated and certainly showed it’s age. Luckily for me, this flight has an average flying time of just 25 minutes. I wouldn’t have to be uncomfortable for very long.

As we pushed back from the stand just a few minutes behind schedule, the Captain made his introduction in both Spanish and English, and the following safety demonstration was again broadcast in both languages. The short taxi to Runway 24 came to an end, the crew secured the cabin and we began our hop over to Majorca.

These seats have an advertised legroom of 30″. It feels a lot smaller!

Not particularly looking forward to fighting the passenger next to me for the middle arm rest, I moved into row 2 as soon as the seat belt signs were switched off. With both seats being free, I was able to stretch out and settle into the flight. Understandably, no Inflight services are carried out on this flight, although items from the bar are available upon request. Interested in exploring my Inflight entertainment options, I pulled out a fairly worn copy of ‘Ronda‘, the Inflight magazine, after a quick flick through and coming to the conclusion that there were no Hollywood blockbusters to be watched, my headphones went on and I sat looking out the window.

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The approach into Palma was turbulent but soon we were taxiing off of the runway and towards our gate. Coming into this flight I hadn’t expected much, I certainly knew It wouldn’t be comparable to my recent Business Class flight with Qatar. However, as I sat and looked around this dated cabin, I knew that this flight Isn’t operated to make large amounts of money. It is operated almost as a public obligation so that residents of the Balearic Islands can carry on with their day to day lives.

 

Want More Like This?  Check out our Iberia Express review, are they worse than Ryanair?!

October 2017: Route Review

October is the height of the route development season. Here is my monthly pick of this month’s best routing news.

Route Launches:

JAL – On October 29th JAL furthered relations between Japan and Britain even further when they added a morning Haneda – London flight. JL41 leaves Tokyo at 2.45am and lands at Heathrow at 6.30. The aircraft then turns around and operates back as JL42. Raj was onboard the inaugural JL42 and will be writing more about in the coming weeks. JAL operate the route with a B787-8 variant with three cabins – business, premium and economy.

Stobart Air – On Sunday, 29th October, Stobart Air launched its trio of operations from London Southend Airport. Flights will operate with Embraer 195 equipment to Dublin & Glasgow, with ATR-72 equipment operating their new Manchester sector. Read my review on Stobart’s Aer Lingus Regional offering here; I can’t wait to review their new Embraer aircraft following LondonSpotter’s positive experience on the Embraer 190. This new service is a significant step for London Southend airport, allowing customers easy access to 11 US destinations via Dublin’s US Pre-Clearance facility.

“With up to three daily services to Dublin, this route offers frequency, optimum schedules and an efficient, convenient and effortless connection to US destinations for our business and leisure passengers.’

-London Southend CEO, Glyn Jones

Air Arabia Maroc – The Moroccan division of Air Arabia launched its new Agadir base in early October. Flights were launched with the airline’s A320 aircraft to Manchester, Copenhagen, Cologne/Bonn, Dublin, Munich, Stockholm and Toulouse.

KLM – At the start of the winter season, KLM’s new flights to Mumbai and San Jose (Costa Rica) were launched. Both services operate with Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner equipment. It represents KLM’s second Indian destination, and solidifies the Dutch airline’s position as a market leader in Latin America.

Route Announcements:

Primera Air – The new airline on the low-cost Transatlantic scene gained the necessary permissions from the Canadian authorities to operate Toronto-European Union routes. Soon after, they announced services from Stansted and Birmingham to Toronto Pearson, operating with newly delivered A321Neo equipment. Both services will depart from the UK on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Primera hope to expand their Transatlantic operations further, with the delivery of new Boeing 737 MAX-9 aircraft. Image: Primera Air

LATAM – LATAM’s Brazilian branch announced major expansion in mid-October, with new routes from Brazil’s economic centre – Sao Paulo – to Boston, Rome and Lisbon. All routes will operate with Boeing 767-300ER aircraft. More details of the new flights will be confirmed in the coming months, but these are important additions to LATAM’s European network from Brazil, which currently includes Barcelona, Frankfurt, London, Madrid, Milan and Paris.

Qatar Airways – Qatar will launch thrice-weekly flights from their Middle Eastern hub in Doha to Penang. Services will operate with the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner and boast convenient connections to Europe and the US, promoting tourism in the region.

Qatar 777-300ER landing at London Heathrow. Image: @LondonSpotter

Iberia – Spain’s national carrier is ignoring the current diplomatic and constitutional crisis in the region, and ploughing ahead with further expansion out of its Madrid hub. Recently launched non-stop services to Tokyo will increase from three to five-weekly and two new destinations will be inaugurated; San Francisco and Managua. Both flights will operate with Airbus A330 aircraft, featuring lie-flat beds, but its important to note that although Managua flights will be direct, they will not be non-stop. These new services will be a tag-on to current Guatemala City flights.

Aer Lingus – The Irish national carrier will launch four-weekly flights from Dublin to Philadelphia next summer, with Boeing 757-200 aircraft leased from ASL Airlines. Aer Lingus says it will offer a total of 2.75 million seats to and from North America in summer 2018, with an additional 575 transatlantic flights compared with this summer, as part of its largest ever programme.

Aer Lingus will offer 11 destinations via its Dublin hub next summer.

British Airways – In a further move to bolster its domestic network, British Airways will expand services to Inverness from daily to ten-weekly. Its important news for the Highland communities, as the connections offered through London Heathrow are unprecedented. The airline also announced a new service to Southern Spain’s Almeria to operate on a summer-seasonal basis – with Airbus A320 aircraft.

British Airways has previously announced new long-haul destinations, including Nashville and the Seychelles. Image: @LondonSpotter

Air Transat – Birmingham has had a bad month in terms of route development. Air Transat pulled their loyal Toronto service for next year’s summer season, minutes after Primera’s new flight had been announced. With both United and Air Transat out of the Birmingham market, the airport’s managers are clearly taking a gamble on the Nordic newcomer. Whether that gamble will be worth it, remains to be seen.

TUI Airlines UK – In December 2018, TUI will expand its winter offering from the UK’s regional airports. They’ll offer a series of charters to Muscat, Dubai, Newark, Krabi & Cochi to connect holidaymakers to cruise itineraries, but will launch regular fortnightly services from Manchester and Birmingham to Malaysia’s Langkawi and the Thai capital, Bangkok operating with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft. The airline will also expand its Manchester-Phuket flights, to a weekly operational basis.

TUI will also operate a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner from Manchester next summer, in addition to London Gatwick. Image: Fernandez Manuel

SAS Scandinavian – SAS will launch a twice-weekly service from Stockholm Arlanda to Birmingham. After the city pair was left unserved by the void Monarch left on October 1st, SAS has stepped in offering flights on Fridays and Sundays. The airline’s Regional Manager said the new flight would cater for increased demand of those travelling for both ‘pleasure and business’.

That’s all for this month! If you want to receive our monthly newsletter and know when new articles are published then sign up below!