PhilInBRN From Switzerland, joined Jun 2009, 239 posts, RR: 0 Posted (1 year 11 months 3 weeks 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 5925 times:
This will be my second trip report on Skywork Airlines (my third flight with them actually), the relatively new and rapidly expanding Swiss regional carrier based in Bern. About three weeks ahead of departure I booked the one way flight to Madrid on their web site for 180 Swiss francs (about EUR 150). The return flight would be on LX to GVA (booked for EUR 60) as Skywork would not operate a flight on this particular day. I was looking forward to my first flight on a Dornier 328 in more than 10 years, the last one had been on the late Swisswings to LCY.
On the day of departure I headed to Bern airport using the airport bus that connects Bern main station with the airport in about 22 minutes. Upon arrival at the small terminal I headed for the check in. The airport allows passengers to check in just 20 minutes prior to departure. I was there earlier than that but it's certainly a great advantage over the other Swiss airports. There would be another Skywork flight at 11:25 to Amsterdam and a flight to Barcelona at 12:20. Therefore the terminal was quite busy for its own standards.
Terminal road with the old (unused) tower to the right
The small airport hotel
View of the terminal to the right from the observation globe
Looking south, Bernese mountains visible in the background
View towards the north, where the city of Bern is located
After check in I still had some time left until boarding would be called. I took advantage of the free wifi offered in the terminal (something one doesn't see too often in Switzerland transport/tourism business) and downloaded some reading material for the 2h20min flight to Madrid. I cleared the security check point in no time and shortly afterwards boarding was called for Skywork 102 to MAD.
The small Schengen part of the terminal with its three gates. There is also a newly built Non-Schengen part with one gate to the other side of the terminal.
Gate 3 ready for boarding of SX102
Quite some action going on on the apron. There were three arrivals by Skywork 328s from HAM, SXF and LCY just prior and there was a Swissjet 328 for maintenance purposes as well.
Friday March 16, 2012
Flightnr: Skywork Airlines SX102
From: Bern-Belp BRN
To: Madrid Barajas MAD
Aircraft: Dornier 328-110
Registration: HB-AEV (not fully painted yet)
I was the first to board the Dornier cabin. The cabin was just high enough to stand upright but I have to admit that getting in my seat 7A was a rather difficult task having bag, camera and jacket wrapped around myself. Soon boarding was completed as there were only ten other people flying to Madrid this day (I can't imagine that they make any money on this very long route at the moment). There was one very young but charming flight attendant on our flight. The security announcement was spoken from tape in German and in English.
Next to us sits HB-AES waiting for its next flight
About ten minutes ahead of schedule the crew turned on the engines and we taxied down the runway to depart on Rwy 14 towards the South. The tiny Dornier took off like a little rocket as we left Bern towards Madrid.
Upon departure the 328 made a wide 270 degree turn over the Bernese country side and finally right over the city of Bern
Clearly visible to the left is the city of Bern
The good weather allowed for some stunning views of the Swiss alps
Just minutes after take off the F/A came by each of the passengers to serve a tray containing a plate with paella rice, a bread roll and a bottle of water. Drinks have to be purchased, but prices are moderate (Coffee for 2 Euro). There were also iPads available but I didn't make use of that service.
The legroom was quite okay for such a small aircraft
We flew along Lake Geneva, passed Geneva and the airport and continued over Lyon, Toulouse toward the Pyrenees. The F/O informed us quite enthusiastically about the route and the weather in Madrid. There was also a girl on the jumpseat who seemed to be fluent in Spanish as she did the announcement for the handful of Spanish passengers on this flight.
Lake Geneva to the right
GVA and the city
After about 100 minutes of flying we reached the Pyrenees. Some fifteen minutes later the Dornier already started to descend
Getting closer to Madrid
Shortly before landing on Rwy 18L
What followed was one of the longest taxis I've experienced. Skywork is serviced at Terminal 1. In conclusion the aircraft had to taxi all the way around the runways and Terminal 4, 3 and 2 to the apron of Terminal 1. To my surprise there was no ground equipment or even a ground controller waiting at the parking position, just a bus and a Swissport ramper. He wouldn't let the passengers exit into the bus at first but after some words with the captain we could say goodbye to the friendly crew.
Captain saying goodbye outside of the plane
HB-AEV is not fully painted at the moment (could be due to aircraft utilization)
As I'd worried seeing no ground equipment around the aircraft it took ages until the luggage finally arrived on the belt inside the terminal.
Nevertheless it was another great experience on this lovely airline. Hopefully Madrid will have some higher demand during the summer season (although competition is very hard in the Swiss market with GVA being serviced up to 10 times daily). Using the flight from Bern was a very convenient way of travelling and certainly encourages me to fly more often from there.
The flight on Monday to Geneva was on Swiss A319 (registration HB-IPU) and was quite good if not for the crew which didn't seem up to par with the other LX experiences I'd had before. However the flight was great value for the money paid.
I hope you enjoyed this trip report. I'd be happy to read and respond to some comments below
Knightsofmalta From Malta, joined Nov 2005, 1649 posts, RR: 18
Reply 2, posted (1 year 11 months 3 weeks 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 5574 times:
Thanks for that. I really enjoyed your report. A flight to or from Berne is a pleasure I have yet to treat myself to.
The Dornier 328 is a cool little aircraft and very rare to catch these days in Europe. The food looks rather tasty. I think I read somewhere (probably on A.net) that the meals they serve change depending on the destination.
All in all the flight time was above three hours, right? That seems awfully long for the Dornier. Is the route only served with this type or do they use the faster Dash-8 as well?
Quoting MH017 (Reply 3): Isn't 3 hours 25 mins not a bit long for a flight in a turbo-prop ?
I'm sorry that is a mistake on my behalf. The time from boarding to deboarding was about 2 hours and 25 minutes. The arrival time in MAD was around 13:45. The Dornier 328 actually isn't much slower than the Q400 thus making it one of the faster turboprops. A flight from ZRH to MAD would've taken about 20 minutes less than the flight on the Dornier.
Quoting Knightsofmalta (Reply 2): Is the route only served with this type or do they use the faster Dash-8 as well?
The route was started on November 1st last year and so far I believe almost every flight has been operated by the Dornier. It would be great if Skywork could use and fill a Q400 in the summer but I'm afraid that the competition from other airports, especially GVA with up to 10 daily flights and very low prices, will prevent this route from being successful.
PhilInBRN From Switzerland, joined Jun 2009, 239 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (1 year 11 months 3 weeks 16 hours ago) and read 4865 times:
Quoting TupolevTu154 (Reply 5): The D328 is on my hitlist of aircraft I need to fly! Is their LCY-BRN service always a D328 or a mix with a Dash?
The Dornier certainly is quite a unique experience these days. The LCY-BRN service during winter was mostly operated by D328 but I suppose during summer season most of their flights will be on Q400. If you want to make sure what type will operate the route on a given day, why not write an e-mail to their customer service before booking: firstname.lastname@example.org
FlyingFinn76 From Finland, joined Jun 2009, 1706 posts, RR: 31
Reply 10, posted (1 year 11 months 2 weeks 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 3977 times:
A nice report with some very pretty pictures of your trip to Madrid, I especially liked the ones just after take off from BRN. This reports serves as a nice reminder that I should try fixing a ride with SkyWork this year - surprisingly (for me at least) they are still around.
That load on the MAD flight wasn't too good - hope that was just your day and not a general trend. Then again that is a very long sector for a turboprop so maybe the folks prefer jet service from GVA, BSL or ZRH instead...
Gee, I never realized competition on MAD-GVA is that tough, I guess that's IB, EZS and LX all on the route? All we are missing is Vueling...