After a long wait since the announcement that Highland Airways would be operating the new North-South Air Service for Wales I finally get to try out the service on the second week of operation.
Having departed on wet and bleak morning towards Anglesey I arrive at the new Anglesey Airport which located within the Royal Air Force Base at Valley on Anglesey.
A new terminal building has been specifically built for this service and any others that they might attract to the airport. I believe that Anglesey Council is trying to get a direct service to DUB set up.
The new Terminal building at Maes Awyr Môn
The check in process with quick and easy, it would be with only 18 passenger on the Jetstream but I had arrived early to make sure there were no problems. About 8.30am we were invited to board where we went through a standard security screening process and made our way to the gate.
About 15 minutes later we asked to make our way to the aircraft at which point we had to brave the wind and rain as we walked to the stand.
The service had free seating and the plane for this trip was full with a good mix of those that were clearly business people going on a day trip, those attending business meetings but staying a few days in the capital like me and leisure passengers taking advantage of the quick travel time to meet friends and family in Cardiff compared to the 4 to 5 hour one way journey by either road or rail.
We taxied to the runway and took off at around 09:00 and quickly entered the low clouds which was disappointing as I was really looking forward to seeing Wales from the air on the way down to Cardiff, we only saw some some breaks in the clouds as we crossed the coast to the east of Cardiff over the Severn Estuary and our turn to the west for the approach to CWL which is situated in Rhoose, 12 miles west of Cardiff City Centre and 10 miles from Junction 33 on the M4.
The service aboard what is quite a small aircraft was excellent, with the FA who was from Cardiff being very nervous in undertaking her safety briefing but very good considering that the service only started the week before. We were served beverages (Coffee, Tea or Orange Juice and a selection of biscuits) during the flight which I was very impressed with considering the length of the flight and the tight conditions the FA had to work in.
Also interesting was the fact that you could see the Pilot and First Officer throughout the flight and it was the first time I had ever flown when I could actually see through the cockpit windows as well. This was real flying as a passenger compared to larger aircrafts that you are completely isolated from the flying action up front. We touched down at CWL at 09:45 and were straight off the plane and my luggage was already on the baggage carousel.
G-JURA at the gate at CWL as we disembarked.
After arriving at CWL I made my way to the City Centre on the X91 Service operated by Cardiff Bus, although advertised as an airport express service it does stop a few times on the route but all in all it gets the job done.
As I had an early departure back to North Wales on the Friday morning flight I was staying at the Express by Holiday Inn at CWL where I got a room with an excellent view of the runway.
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Room at Express by Holiday Inn at CWL
Some shots of action at CWL from my room
Friday 18 May 2007
Cardiff Wales International (CWL) to Anglesey/Valley (VLY)
I was first to check in for my return flight to Angelsey and quickly went through security at CWL and got a coffee at the departure lounge. A lot of holiday charter flights were called for boarding and quicky the lunge had gone from very busy to nearly empty, We were called to Gate 8 around 07:00 where I got a picture of the Express by Holiday Inn with a BMI Baby 737 in the shot.
and a good shot of our aircraft for my early morning return (G-JURA)
After boarding started at 7.15 the pilot came out of the cockpit to inform us that the had been informed of an ATC delay of ten minutes giving us a 07:40 departure slot. But he did say that he had been given this on a previous day but was given back the original slot. The load was about two thirds full for this morning flight and as it would happen we got our original slot back and we pushed back on time.
Although the weather was better at CWL than for the outward leg we quickly entered the cloud layer and again it was going to be a trip with no views of the Welsh countryside.
I took this photo of the cabin after the seat belt sign had been turned off.
The engine and wing of the Jetstream 31
The service on the flight was again very good being served a beverage service by Samantha the FA who was doing her first flight on her own. There was a trainer from Highland Airways on the outward leg of my trip.
We got breaks in the clouds as we crossed the Menai Straights by Ynys Llanddwyn and we flew directly past RAF Valley to the east and did a turn back south over Holyhead for our very smooth but interesting landing. As we approached the landing runway between 5 and 20 seconds before touchdown, due to the windy conditions I was actually able to see the runway from my window on the port side of the aircraft. After a sharp adjustment we straightened out for a smooth landing again and slightly ahead of time.
We quickly disembarked at a very blustery RAF Valley and our baggage was again waiting for us.
I took the following photo of the plane and terminal from the car park as I was heading to Caernarfon where I was at my desk at 09:00.
I hope you enjoyed my first trip report on Airliners, I thoroughly enjoyed flying it and I have two further trips scheduled over the coming two weeks on this service.
Ndebele From Germany, joined Apr 2001, 2905 posts, RR: 21
Reply 2, posted (9 years 1 week 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 10633 times:
Wow, a Welsh domestic trip report, very nice! Very interesting to read for many apects: the high load (wouldn't have expected that on such anew route), the flight attendant (wouldn't have expected that either), and of course I liked the pics. Thanks very much for sharing!
SteveBerch From UK - Wales, joined Jun 2005, 34 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (9 years 1 week 4 days 13 hours ago) and read 10336 times:
Thanks for your comments
I hadn't thought of it as a Welsh domestic trip report but you are spot on. I guess Air Wales did a Cardiff to Swansea leg on the London City route a few years, but not sure if there was ever a trip report for that. So this could be the first on A.net
I suspect that this flight will be very succesful if the early high loads are anything to go by. No doubt assisted by the geography of Wales and the fact the route is currently subsidised by the Welsh Assembly Government through a PSO (public service obligation) contract.
The one problem there could be is lack of available seats at the last minute which might mean people being put off simply because of not enough available seats on the route. If that is the case I wonder if Highland would consider putting on a third trip in each direction at their own risk or increasing aircraft capacity on one of the round trips.
I thought that it would be an unusual route for a trip report for A.net as the vast majority of flights and naturally reports are on large jets and from some parts of the world where aviation is a big player in the transport market.
Also, apologies for the missing words, I was in a rush to get it posted.
Rineanna From Ireland, joined Jan 2007, 881 posts, RR: 12
Reply 5, posted (9 years 1 week 4 days 13 hours ago) and read 10321 times:
Very enjoyable TR. It's nice to see airports like Valley being featured from time to time. It appears to be an excellent service being provided, from the actual timings to the aircraft and on board service. Thanks for the pics of CWL too.
SteveBerch From UK - Wales, joined Jun 2005, 34 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (9 years 1 week 4 days 12 hours ago) and read 10310 times:
Quoting Rineanna (Reply 5): Very interesting. Might it be Highland again who provide the service, or would they be aiming at something bigger like RE?
I am not sure how advanced any discussions are about the service to DUB. Only that the Council see it as being of significant economic benefit to Anglesey and they are speaking openly about trying to set it up.
Trintocan From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2000, 3297 posts, RR: 4
Reply 8, posted (9 years 1 week 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 10103 times:
A very interesting report indeed. Domestic air travel within Wales - I hope that the route works out because the North - South journey is indeed very long by road or rail. For the trivia buffs - if one rode the train from Valley or Holyhead to Cardiff, one would travel through Wales to Flint then into England for Chester, back into Wales (Wrexham General to Chirk), back out to England (Gobowen to Shrewsbury to Hereford) then back to Wales again (Abergavenny to Newport to Cardiff)!
I noticed the BA-liveried ERJ at the CWL terminal, I wonder if that is a plane being oeprated by flybe on its new CWL service to BHD. CDG is due to follow next month.
As for X91, it is not an express sevrice despite the branding on the buses. Back in 2004 Cardiff Bus reorganized its services and made X91 a stand-alone service to the Airport with stops at several city centre hotels before proceeding to Central Station and then non-stop to CWL. The service however lost a lot of customers to the Arriva rail service to Rhoose, which links to a shuttle bus to the terminal and in 2006 Cardiff Bus dropped the express route and combined the service with X90, which ran to Wenvoe and skirted Barry before continuing on to Rhoose itself and Llantwit Major. The combined service, redesignated X91, was indeed the route that existed before the rearrangement.
A VLY - DUB route may seem attractive to the council but, with so many ferries operating from Holyhead, is that a viable venture?