On June 26th 2019, some of the London based team from Travel Radar went to London Heathrow’s famous Myrtle Avenue for a live stream after the 3pm Runway switch.
This was brought on in part to the Airbus A350-1000 delivery to BA being cancelled following a major ATC technical problem, causing London Heathrow to refuse its delivery slot in order to prioritize commercial airliners already in bound to LHR as the airport was forced to reduce its inbound capacity to 40 planes per hour. However we did finally get to see it only 3 days later!
The trip wasn’t in vane as we managed to get some very nice colourful aircraft of varying styles, make and ages.
British Airways Airbus A321-NEO and Airbus A320-200
Bit of a contrast on this Live Session.
British Airways has 140 Airbus A320-family aircraft based at London Heathrow and Gatwick ranging from 19 years old to as new as a few weeks! With the exception of ex-BMI A319 fleet and a small fleet second hand G-GAT* registered A320-200, a huge majority of the airlines Airbus short-haul fleet operate across the UK, Europe, North Africa and selected parts of Western Asia. They are a very common sight and make up a majority of spots on London Heathrow visits.
An interesting note was seeing two Airbus planes from the airline with in a few minutes of each other: G-NEOT and G-EUUA.
G-NEOT is the airlines second newest (at the time of writing) Airbus A321-neo, a plane brought in to replace the ageing, and now retired, Boeing 767-300 fleet. Delivered in March 2019, the aircraft is only four months old with a PAX seating capacity of 220 across Club Europe and Euro Traveller.
By way of contrast, G-EUUA was the next BA Airbus to follow, after a few other aircraft in between, which is the airlines oldest Airbus A320-ceo!
G-EUUA was delivered in January 2002, making this air frame 17 years old. It was ordered as part of a huge order to replaced ageing Boeing 737-200 aircraft and later streamline the fleet at London Heathrow, allowing the Boeing 737-300/-400/-500 fleets to be exiled to London Gatwick and eventually replace the Boeing 757-200 fleet in 2010.
Biman Bangladesh Airlines Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner
In the last decade, Biman Bangladesh Airlines has undergone a huge and major fleet development!
In 2007, the airline’s LHR service was one of the last methods to see a regular service of the McDonnell-Douglas DC-10 and Airbus A310-300. However it now boasts a more modernised fleet of 4x Boeing 777-300(ER), introduced in 2011, and 3x Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, which began to arrive to the airline in 2018.
At almost a year old, S2-AJS is the first Boeing Dreamliner in the Biman fleet. the Dreamliner’s and Boeing 777’s alternating on the London Heathrow route.
The aircraft is able to carry a load of 24 passengers in its Business Class and 247 economy class passengers.
Hainan Airlines Boeing 787-9
One of the many new airlines at London Heathrow from China. Hainan Airlines began connecting London Heathrow to Changsha, from the Hunan Provence since late March 2018. The airline’s long haul fleet consists of Airbus A330/A350 and Boeing 787-8/-9 aircraft.
London Heathrow is connected by the Boeing 787, mainly the -9 variant. On this afternoon, arriving just after the 3pm runway switch and on schedule- is the aircraft B-1140. Delivered on 16th October 2018, making it one of the youngest planes on this spotting stream!
The aircraft can bring a maximum of 292 passengers in one flight across two cabins. 30 business class cabins and 262 economy class passengers.
One positive note about Hainan Airlines is their colourful red and yellow scheme that engulfs the tail section and spreads across the white fuselage. In Chinese culture: Red and Yellow are signs of a person’s wealth!
Virgin Atlantic Airbus A340-600
With sadness, Virgin announced on July 28th 2019 that the Airbus A340-600 fleet (of which five planes remain based at London Heathrow) would finally bow out by the end of 2019 as the first Airbus A350-900 arrive to the airline.
With luck- we saw one of the aircraft to include in our live stream. This happened to be a 13 year old air frame G-VRED nicknamed “Scarlet Lady”.
For more details on the Virgin Atlantic A340-600 fleet, visit our previous article on our first FLEET PROFILE!
Flybe Dash 8 Q-400
March 26th 2017 saw the arrival of another British airline to London Heathrow. Since the 2012 merger that saw British Airways swallow up BMI British Midland International, only BA had dedicated short haul services across the UK and Europe. Virgin Atlantic briefly launched a loss-making “Little Red” domestic service with help from Aer Lingus, but that only lasted for 2 years.
Flybe initially started with multiple services to Edinburgh and Aberdeen, two very popular routes between Scotland and London, whilst easyJet, Ryanair and Flybe all make Domestic flights to the cities from other airports in the London area, this would be the airlines first time flying from London Heathrow. Later on in 2018: Isle of Man, Guernsey and Newquay would all become destinations served by the airline at London Heathrow, increasing the portfolio of LHR domestic services. Though Guernsey is terminating in late 2019, Isle of Man was only introduced as a summer seasonal route.
Two Flybe Dash 8 Q-400 arrived at London Heathrow during our live stream, one in the original 2002 “Jim French era” white/blue livery (G-ECOC) and a second in the purple “Saad Hammad era” 2014 livery (G-JECZ).
Aeroflot Boeing 737-800(WL)
The short/medium haul operations of Aeroflot from Moscow Sheremetyevo are dominated by the Airbus A320-family and Airbus A330 on some high demand routes like Paris Charles DeGaulle, Amsterdam Schipol (both Skyteam hubs for connections) and capacity strained London Heathrow. However a small fleet (by comparison) of 47 Boeing 737-800.
The Boeing 737-800 is coming at some airports, but at London Heathrow the “baby-Boeing” plane is not a very common sight. Mainly Airbus A330 and Airbus A320/321 aircraft dominating the frequent services.
However on one of Aeroflot’s arrivals at 15:25pm, the early arriving SU2582 service from Moscow Sheremetyevo was operated by a Boeing 737-800(WL) carrying the registration: VQ-BHV arrived bringing a nice change in the sightings at LHR!
SAS Scandinavian Airlines Boeing 737-800
SAS has being using the Boeing 737-NG family since the mid-1990’s. The aircraft are currently being phased out slowly as the airline brings in over 50 Airbus A320-neo to streamline the fleet across its Norway, Sweden and Denmark bases.
A rare sight in Europe is the Boeing 737-800 without winglet devices. Most major airlines that use the Boeing 737 have opted to install fuel saving winglets to decrease fuel costs over the last decades as fuel prices have risen sharply at times. However a small number of SAS Boeing 737’s still lack them for various reasons. So its a unique sight to see at London Heathrow.
The aircraft we saw was LN-RPR, a 19 year old Boeing 737-800 that has served with SAS under Norwegian (its current), Swedish and Danish registrations as well as a stint leased to Spanish airline Air Europa and defunct Russian airline Moskovia Airlines.
All Nippon Airways Boeing 777-300(ER)
All Nippon Airways (ANA) is the second largest and largest private Japanese airline, a hardened rival to the countries “flag carrier” Japan Airlines (JAL). Whilst JAL is mainly based at Tokyo Haneda, ANA is mainly based at Tokyo Narita, all though both airlines have major presence in both airports.
The long time Star Alliance member has been a regular daily sight at London Heathrow since 1989, using Boeing 747 aircraft until the early 2010’s when the Boeing 777-300(ER) took over as the final Boeing 747 fleets retired in 2011 (internationally) and 2014 (domestic).
JA791A was the Boeing 777-300(ER) used on the flight arriving in our live stream, its a 4 year old air frame delivered in April 2015. The airline carries 212 passengers across four cabins. Eight First Class passengers, 68 business class passengers, 24 premium economy passengers and a further 112 passengers in economy.
Air France Airbus A320-ceo and KLM Boeing 737-700
Air France & KLM have both been long time staples at London Heathrow for decades. Rivalling British Airways on their Amsterdam and Paris services. which they both provide multiple daily services, trying to draw long haul passengers away from London to their respective hubs.
Air France since the late 1980s has being a dedicated user of the Airbus A320 and its family of aircraft, and only recently announced a massive order for 60 of the latest Airbus short-haul products to replace some of their ageing Airbus A320 fleet. Air France has had the same “Eurowhite” livery design since 1976, albeit with a slight modernisation to the livery in 2009.
The Air France flight arriving into London Heathrow during our stream is F-HEPD, a 9 year old Airbus A320-ceo, one of the younger Airbus A320 in the fleet, as some of the older aircraft were delivered in the early 2000s. The aircraft delivered in the 1980s/early 1990’s have already retired, which accounts to 53 aircraft retired and 42 in service for the A320-200ceo alone.
KLM on the other hand, has used Boeing 737 (from the Classic -300/-400 models to the current Next Generation series -700/-800/-900) since the late 1980s, replacing the ageing DC-9 fleet. KLM has had the same livery (like Air France) design since the early 1970s. The airline has updated its famous “Blue Top” livery twice in 2004 and 2014.
This Boeing 737 is a -700 model wearing the registration PH-BGO. KLM has pencilled in 2022 as the retirement date for their Boeing 737-700 fleet as they replace them with brand new and recently ordered Embraer E2-190 “Profit Hunters” in their KLM Cityhopper fleet and newer Boeing 737-800. Whether they decided to bring the Boeing 737-MAX (or its successor if rebranded) is to be seen and speculated for a while. KLM has a fairly young short haul fleet compare to Air France.
The KLM Boeing 737-700 carries 142 passengers in a flexible Business/Economy cabin where as the Air France Airbus A320-ceo on the same cabin carries 174 with the ability to flex the amount of Business/Economy class seats depending on demand and load factor.
Unfortunately this ends the look back on this London Heathrow live stream and our collection!
So on that note- I’ll leave us with a British Airways Boeing 747-400 that came in just after we packed up, given its one of the main highlights for spotters coming to London Heathrow from far and wide!