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Brighton City Airways Inaugural To Paris, Let 410.  
User currently offlineTupolevTu154 From Germany, joined Aug 2004, 2181 posts, RR: 28
Posted (1 year 5 months 2 weeks 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 17000 times:

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Background

I've been visiting Shoreham airport, a small friendly general aviation airfield on the south coast of the UK, for a few years. Back in the days when Rockhopper (now Blue Islands) flew BN2 Islanders to Alderney in both their own scheme and with an ex Air Jamaica bird. A couple of years later, I'd start taking flying lessons in a dodgy old Piper PA38 Tomahawk. The oldest licensed aerodrome in the UK, it was doing well, especially on weekends when dozens of visitors would land for a good quality lunch in the restaurant/cafe.

Unfortunately, with the “global economic crisis”, things went downhill. The airport priced itself out of operation (charging way above average for a landing and even a go-around) and the owner went bust. Commercial services weren't viable and ESH's second recent attempt at a passenger airline service fell through (probably because it was unjustifiably expensive), flying to Le Touquet and Paris Pontoise with Piper Chieftains.

Recently the airport has been rejuvenated with the promise of a new scheduled service to Paris and a complete refurbishment of the restaurant (which was previously absolutely terrible. Mismatched furniture, nasty pre-packed sandwiches and uninviting surroundings) and is now fantastic. In fact, I went there recently and there was a musician in the corner playing a grand piano whilst people were being served excellent quality food.

I can't remember how I came across it, but I noticed an ambitious start up “virtual” airline called Brighton City Airways wanting to start flights from Shoreham. No routes were known at the time but you could vote for where you wanted them to look into. Regardless of where they would end up flying, I wanted to give them a go. I kept an eye on them and late last year, they announced they'd be flying to an airfield north west of Paris called Pontoise, offering connections into central Paris. At £69 each way, it was reasonable. Booking was opened early December and I like to think I was the very first passenger to book with them, as I stayed up until midnight to grab the inaugural service (which wasn't particularly my intention until I thought why not?!), departing on March the 6th.

The Service

Flights are advertised at £69 each way, with £6 extra for a hold bag. Parking at Shoreham is £5 a night (a bargain, as you'll see later) and a shuttle bus at the other end to the closest RER station (which then takes 35 minutes to central Paris) is another £5. Parking in Pontoise is free. Other unique benefits are a £20 deposit for flights, with the remainder payable later, unlimited (and free) name changes and a 15 minute check-in time. Their aircraft of choice is the 19 seat Let 410, the largest commercial aircraft capable of using the available runway at Shoreham. There would be two return flights a day on weekdays and one on weekends, as follows;

Monday-Friday
ESH-POX Dep:0830 Arr:1030 Dep:1700 Arr:1900
POX-ESH Dep:1200 Arr:1200 Dep:1900 Arr:1900

Saturday
ESH-POX Dep:0830 Arr:1030
POX-ESH Dep:1200 Arr:1200

Sunday
ESH-POX Dep:1630 Arr:1900
POX-ESH Dep:1930 Arr:1930

Booking was fairly straightforward. With this being a new airline, the website (https://www.brightoncityairways.com/) is hardly going to be a hugely sophisticated affair. True to my suspicions, it wasn't as user friendly as most airlines these days, but I expect it'll improve with time. In the month or so prior to the flight I received a few too many emails telling me to provide my passenger details (which I had done) and then one slightly more interesting one. Due to French customs having not got their act together, it would be two weeks before they have any customs facilities in Pontoise. This meant we'd have to stop off at either Le Touquet or Rouen en route. Hurrah! Four flights for the price of two! I hoped for Le Touquet as it looks like a far more interesting approach and it's more out of the way compared to Rouen. Sure enough, Le Touquet was our chosen stop off point, giving us this route;

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Day of the flight

My alarm goes off at 0700 (Yes, a mere hour and a half before departure time) and I get the morning formalities out of the way before leaving the house for the 35 minute or so drive down to the coast. I arrive around 0750, park my car up seconds from the terminal and pay £5 at the meter for 24 hours parking.

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My car, with the terminal within spitting distance. Had the aircraft already been here, you'd be able to see it parked in the background.

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The old Art Deco style terminal and war memorial. (Shoreham was an active RAF base in the war, read more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoreham_Airport , and for the airports website including a webcam: http://www.shorehamairport.co.uk/)

I'm pleased to see a fair amount of press presence here (NOT because I want to get on the television   ). I head over to the apron expecting to see our aircraft, but no such luck yet. According to the arrivals board (yes, there is one here) a Van Air flight number was due in from the Isle of Man. I hang around watching people in suits look important then pluck up the courage to head towards check in. As I do, a TV reporter is straight on the job, “Are you on the flight? Can we interview you for ITV Meridian?” “Uhh, yeah okay!” I'm told to stand in a certain spot and straight away it's into the questions. “So why are you here today? Are you happy to see a new airline at Shoreham? Do you think it'll succeed?”. I answer all these questions as positively as I can and throw in a few token phrases to make it sound like I'm going to be a regular traveller on the route rather than an aviation geek who's just flying for the novelty. I'm thanked and turn around to walk away, where I'm asked by another camera man from BBC South Today “Can we pap you too?” “Haha, yeah alright!”. “Are you local? Being in Horsham, is this more convenient for you?” The latter question is televised on the news that evening much to many friends amusement, with my reply “Yes. I have a friend in Paris so it's much easier from here, otherwise I'd have to go to Luton or Stansted, or the Eurostar”. (I'm aware you can also fly from Heathrow and City but this totally slipped my mind when I was panicking about being filmed!)

I head inside to the tiny check in area being followed by the same cameramen, “do you mind if we film you checking in?” to which I agree. I hand over my passport to the two ladies behind the counter that seem a little embarrassed at being filmed too. They ask whether I have a boarding pass (I was emailed one, but didn't print it off) to which I reply no, and they give me one, followed by a voucher entitling me to a free breakfast of my choice and glass of prosecco in the restaurant! “We'll come and find you when it's time to board”.

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The check in area after the return flight. Beneath those nasty high-vis jackets is a smart Brighton City Airways branded shirt.

Here's a snippet of a report showing me checking in; http://www.itv.com/news/meridian/sto...13-03-04/new-flights-for-airports/ (it may not work in your region, but worth a try).

I thank them, and make my way out. I catch myself glancing straight down the lens of one of the cameras, quickly looking away with a nervous laugh.

Outside and in the relative safety, I take a look at my boarding pass and voucher and head to the restaurant.

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In the summer, this outside area is packed and it's impossible to find a seat!

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Inside the quiet, historic terminal I present my voucher at the bar and am told “Choose anything you like from the menu”. Everything is free with this voucher courtesy of the airline, so I can even take advantage of a full English breakfast and alcohol, which doesn't come cheap! With it being early, I go for something a little more modest and take a couple of Danish pastries and a cup of tea.

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Once I'm finished, I head back outside to await the arrival of our Let 410 from IOM.

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Advert in the terminal for the new flights.

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Departures board, with our flight showing as Le Touquet. The other aircraft are private flights, and the flight number is literally just the registration.

I sit outside for a while and watch the happenings beside the terminal. The atmosphere is good, with a lot of excited people from airport workers, to college students and of course the press. I watch guys in suits being interviewed and keep an eye out for the aircraft.

A short while later it lands on runway 20 and backtracks (actually bang on our departure time of 0830, so it goes without saying that we'll be delayed!), people get their cameras ready and wait for it to taxi in right in front of us. I hope that maybe it might have a water cannon salute. For some reason it stops at the other end of the airfield and shuts down. Hmm, interesting. People start to get restless and questions start to get thrown around. After almost half an hour it gets towed onto the apron in front of us. I'd hoped it would be in Brighton City Airways colours (as their website shows) but I wasn't at all surprised to see it in Citywing colours.

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She looks smart nonetheless and it's the first time I've seen the colour scheme that's apparently in dispute with TAME of Ecuador because of its similar logo.


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Photo © Roger Cannegieter - Curacao Aviation Photography

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We all head into the small terminal at this point and go through a security scanner. As far as I understand, legally there's no requirement for security to be carried out for a flight with an aircraft of 19 seats or less. But this is the UK so it was hardly unexpected!

Into the departure lounge I go to find everybody else in a question and answer session with the CEO of the company, who is happy to engage in conversation but has to dash off for various operational reasons every now and then.

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On the far side of the room is a tea and coffee machine, a large TV showing the news and some magazines. The ground staff enter the room and say “There's no toilets on the aircraft, so if you need to use the facilities they're just through here”. A good point to make before a flight! I stay close to the door as it shouldn't be to much longer until boarding. For quite a while we wait for “weight and balance paperwork” to be completed which amounts to another half an hour or so of waiting. People start to get restless again and the ground staff apologise, fortunately it's all quite informal and people are in good spirits. It later comes to our attention that the original aircraft had a technical difficulty in the Isle of Man and as such had to be replaced by the Citywing one we now have. After it landed the CAA then had a surprise inspection of the aircraft delaying us further.

Eventually we're led out onto the tarmac not before the ground staff put some branded headrests in place on the aircraft and the press film us all filing out towards the aircraft.

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I climb on board and the cabin is far more spacious than I was expecting. Of course such a small aircraft like this is free seating so I take 3A. Seat comfort is good and legroom's not bad. Another passenger even remarks “Not bad! Better than Ryanair” which now seems to be the standard unit of measurement for passengers on aircraft! A large window looks outside and there's plenty of space with 14 of the 19 seats occupied. Elbow and shoulder room is better than a window seat in an average low cost airline though I would've really appreciated an arm rest.

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Doors are closed and exit row passengers are briefed on how to operate the exits and the first officer introduces himself and the captain before a short safety demo. Exits are pointed out and seatbelts are demonstrated before a somewhat robotic “thank you for flying Brighton City Airways operated by Van Air Europe and thank you for your attention we wish you a pleasant flight”. As if the captain was waiting for his colleague to finish his speech, the engines start the second he stops.

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We begin to taxi and the engine volume seems good, people can hold a conversation at a sensible level however it doesn't stay this way for long!

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With the groan and screech of brakes we turn onto the runway, spin around and face north for our imminent departure.

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A view down the narrow runway 02.

We power along and of course the noise level has increased significantly by this point. A few moments later the nose points skyward and we hop into the air.

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Down below is the A27 road and Lancing College, which can be seen in the background of most photos taken at Shoreham.

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We turn right and head south east over the top of Brighton and up towards what I guess was around 10,000ft, the maximum this unpressurised aircraft can go before us punters need oxygen.

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South Downs

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Brighton city centre, with the train station clearly visible.

Those on the right of the aircraft would've had a spectacular view of the seafront, famous (and infamous) piers at Brighton. The latter was abandoned and damaged for several years before being burned to a husk of charred wood.

We gradually climb above the thin layer of high level cloud as the UK coastline disappears from view, there's very little turbulence and the flight is generally smooth.

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A look inside the cabin at the open flight deck. I didn't take row 1 because I would've barely been able to see anything but the Captains shoulder and the engine would've been in the way for exterior views, as well as being noisier.

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With no IFE I just stare out the window until descent begins

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Chasing shadows, or is the shadow chasing us?

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Dipping below the clouds and north eastern France comes into view.

A couple of gentle turns later and we're on final approach for Le Touquets runway 14. Flying over vast sand formations the gear is lowered and the huge door comes into view, and into my photographs! This certainly looks like a nice part of France, so close but yet so far! No wonder it's popular with private pilots on day trips from all over the southern UK.

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A remarkably smooth descent and I'm amazed to hear the flight deck is equipped with a radio altimeter. “Five hundred” I hear, then later “One hundred” “Fifty, forty, thirty, twenty, ten”. We float along for a while before the nice noise of rubber screeching against concrete. As soon as the nosewheel gently contacts the runway the turboprops are thrown into beta mode, slowing us down quickly and with that eerie noise a lot of us know and love turboprops for. On the roll out a lot of clicking can be heard as the pilots flick switches that are no longer needed for flight. The squeaky brakes come back within earshot and we head towards the apron, are marshalled into position and the engines shut down after 29 minutes of flight.

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The first officer appears again and asks us to remain seated until instructed to leave the aircraft. At this point we expect to go to the terminal to have our passports looked at. Instead a couple of airport staff come to the back door and apparently explain all that's needed is a list of names and we're good to go again. In fact, next time we don't even need to shut down and open up. “Just ask via radio if customs are here. If not you can just go again”. It seems the aircraft literally has to touch down at an airport with a customs facility and that's it. We can just backtrack and takeoff again straight away. “How much is this costing you as a company?” I ask the CEO who's sat a couple of rows behind me “You don't even want to know” he said with exasperation on his face. Earlier in the terminal he said to me “Was it you who emailed me and thanked me for the extra stop en route?” “No, but I was happy about it!” I replied. The aviation geek has made himself known  

Fortunately for the company and its regular passengers, this procedure is only expected to last for two weeks, after which it will be a direct 45 minute flight from Shoreham to Pontoise. Whilst on the ground we began to ask the CEO more questions. It turns out that “ticket sales so far have exceeded our expectations by quite alot”. This is good news! Apparently between 600 and 700 tickets have been sold via the website. Over what period of time this isn't known, however several flights on the website show as either “unavailable” or “sold out”. I'm no business expert but surely this is very good news for a fledgling company. “We fought so hard to get the flights going on the original start date despite this customs issue and all sorts of other hurdles” he says, “the last thing we wanted to do was inconvenience our passengers who have booked with us so far”. Throughout the day, including the return flight, he makes an effort to engage with the passengers and ask for feedback on what we thought of the aircraft as well as what we'd like to see in the future. I suggested a basket of branded ear plugs at each end of the flight to which he nodded and agreed.

After these “formalities” had been sorted, we were on our way again. Engines started and a taxi back out to runway 14.

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A scenic departure followed over the attractive town of Etaples.

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We climbed to cruising altitude and before long were immersed in thin cloud again, though most of the time we were skimming the top of it which was greatly appreciated!

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The weather got more and more gloomy the further inland we went, eventually turning into a thick soupy haze similar to that you'd find on a dusty summers day.
After a 35 minute flight across the French countryside we catch sight of Pontoise airfield, here seen on the downwind leg for a circuit to land on runway 05.

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Gear down, flaps down, a turn on to base leg, then final, and we fly over the picturesque village of Montgeroult.

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Touchdown!

Engines shoved into beta mode again (their equivalent of reverse thrust) and we turn left onto runway 30 to head towards the Handling Partners hangar. What's that I spy? Two fire trucks facing each other on opposite sides of the taxiway? That can mean only one thing, water cannon salute!

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Everybody shared each others excitement at the fanfare we were arriving to! Emerging the other side of the water was a small group of French media. Now if only I could find their photos of us going through the water...

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Parking on stand I spy a couple of gorgeous aircraft in the hangar. Engines are shut down and the first officer emerges, asks us to remain seated until instructed to leave and thanks us for flying Brighton City Airways operated by Van Air Europe. I'm tempted to start a congratulatory clap but decide against it   Doors are opened and while everyone else leaves I wait behind with who appears to be the only other aviation enthusiast on board. I take some photos of the cabin then poke my head into the cockpit and as the captain if I can take some photos. “Of course! Where do you want me? I can get out if you don't want me doing my paperwork in here” he replies. Nice chap! Whilst snapping away I mention that I'm amazed the aircraft has a radio altimeter “Yes indeed, the aircraft is equipped with all the necessary equipment, TCAS, EGPWS etc to meet EASA requirements”. Good to know! I thank him for his time and head out the aircraft where the ground staff are all smiles and give a hearty Bonjour.

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I'm directed into the hangar housing a gorgeous M registered Gulfstream 200 and a King Air C90
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Here the ITV reporter is waiting and even she appreciates that the Gulfstream is a thing of beauty up close and personal. “We should take that one on the return!”.

We're then led outside to the car park where it's extremely quiet, or maybe it's because we've been deafened by the Let! Those heading into Paris are shown to a nice shiny Mercedes van for the 10 minute drive to Pontoise RER station then the 35 minute train to the city, not before a couple more interviews. The three of us left behind are waiting for friends or relatives to pick us up. I talk to a couple of guys who say that this route couldn't be more convenient if they made it themselves. “We travel to this area of Paris at least once a month” they say, “and we live in Brighton. Before, we used to have to go all the way to London City then on to Charles De Gaulle. Now it's almost door to door”.

This is when I'm picked up by a friend and driven to Pontoise for some lunch, aimless wandering and chat before being brought back to the airport for our 1900 departure. I arrive at 1825, so plenty of time, and make my way into the departure lounge, check in which is a painless process, say hello to the rest of the group (most of whom were heading to Paris only for the day, so the same as the outbound) and sit down in the middle of a conversation between the only other aviation enthusiast in the group and the CEO. The ITV reporter and I sit a little uncomfortably while the enthusiast asks some questions that are easily answered with a little common sense. Nonetheless, the atmosphere was relaxed and quiet. After a few minutes the check in guys have to ring a couple of passengers to find out where they are as check in was almost closed. Turns out they had difficulty finding a taxi at the RER station. Once they've arrived it's a very casual affair and boarding is started with a simple “right folks... shall we?”.



Atheists - Winning since 33 A.D.
20 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineLuxair747SP From Germany, joined May 2010, 504 posts, RR: 17
Reply 1, posted (1 year 5 months 2 weeks 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 16942 times:

Hi T.

Great report!
Damn you have been fast on writing this!
Seems that this airline has quite some potential and i hope they will open more routes in future.
The LET410 seems to be the perfect bird for this short hop across the channel.
Also nice that they give food vouchers to the passengers!

Thanks a lot for sharing.
Cheers,
Johannes


User currently offlineFLIEGER67 From Spain, joined Sep 2003, 5155 posts, RR: 55
Reply 2, posted (1 year 5 months 2 weeks 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 16904 times:

Hi, T.,

that´s for sure something special like expected.
Well done, great to see a story here about these inaugural service.

Quoting TupolevTu154 (Thread starter):

And now for the token trip report photo you've all been waiting for...

The perfect style, you know.

Greetings,
Markus(FLIEGER67)



Next: Shopping and sun med style!.
User currently offlineMEA-707 From Netherlands, joined Nov 1999, 4313 posts, RR: 36
Reply 3, posted (1 year 5 months 2 weeks 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 16888 times:

Great report Tom! Is the food voucher a standard thing on morning flights or every flight or just for the inaugural you think?
Eric and I flew on Manx2's Let OK-TCA last september and I noted the heavy Czech accents of the crew and the children in the safety video, was it sort of the same on this flight?



nobody has ever died from hard work, but why take the risk?
User currently offlinegabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3219 posts, RR: 12
Reply 4, posted (1 year 5 months 2 weeks 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 16888 times:

Nice to see this online so quickly Tom! Looks like you had a nice day trip to Paris!

Quoting TupolevTu154 (Thread starter):
otherwise I'd have to go to Luton or Stansted, or the Eurostar”. (I'm aware you can also fly from Heathrow and City but this totally slipped my mind when I was panicking about being filmed!)

Ha, I think by ignoring LHR and LCY you've firmly put yourself into the "budget" airline category

Quoting TupolevTu154 (Thread starter):
Here's a snippet of a report showing me checking in; http://www.itv.com/news/meridian/sto...13-03-04/new-flights-for-airports/ (it may not work in your region, but worth a try).

Nice little video. You sound very eloquent!

Quoting TupolevTu154 (Thread starter):
It seems the aircraft literally has to touch down at an airport with a customs facility and that's it. We can just backtrack and takeoff again straight away. “How much is this costing you as a company?” I ask the CEO who's sat a couple of rows behind me “You don't even want to know” he said with exasperation on his face.

How annoying for the company. I guess he wasn't impressed by the French!

Quoting TupolevTu154 (Thread starter):
I guess that was our customs stop!

So,. what would happen if you had a "funny" passport. I guess they'd want to open up and stamp it? Nice you got a UK stamp...I'm surprised they even did that on request.



http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights:LHR-VIE-PRN,SPU-OSL-LHR,STN-SNN-STN,LHR-ARN-OSL-TOS-LYR-OSL-CPH-LHR,
User currently offlinereifel From Germany, joined Feb 2005, 1346 posts, RR: 1
Reply 5, posted (1 year 5 months 2 weeks 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 16885 times:

Excellent report!
The LET is a great plane, I flew it in Estonia on a domestic flight (but it had rather benches, while your plane was really comfy it seems!)

Customs is really a joke   Love that they call Le Touquet airport "Paris Plage"  

Lucky you to have flown that route, they seem to be a sympatic airline and I wish them well!


User currently offlineTupolevTu154 From Germany, joined Aug 2004, 2181 posts, RR: 28
Reply 6, posted (1 year 5 months 2 weeks 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 16758 times:

Frustratingly parts of this report have disappeared and the format has been completely screwed. Until it's sorted I'll post the remainder of the report here. I've emailed the website but if anyone else can help I'd really appreciate it. In the meantime...




Pontoise departure lounge and check in area, with refreshments etc on one side of the room.

We're led through a corridor, down some steps where the excitement builds at having an areal view of all this...

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v476/Toml/IMG_9685edit_zps99543924.jpg

Fantastic! The jet in the bottom corner is being repaired after having suffered an engine fire. Our Let is visible in the distance.

And now for the token trip report photo you've all been waiting for...

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v476/Toml/IMG_9686edit_zps88ff3f9a.jpg

This one is a personal favourite;

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v476/Toml/IMG_9688edit_zpsdfc23894.jpg

We're welcomed aboard again by the first officer and I take row 6 on the right hand side in the hope that maybe it'll be a bit quieter back here.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v476/Toml/IMG_9689_zpsa4c11e96.jpg

The CEO is in front of me greeting a new addition to the group, just travelling on the return. Apparently this service is extremely convenient for him too.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v476/Toml/IMG_9690_zpsce01d1a4.jpg

A look back at the open door.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v476/Toml/IMG_9691_zpsdcfdec3e.jpghttp://img.photobucket.com/albums/v476/Toml/IMG_9692_zpscffea9d5.jpg

Citywing safety card.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v476/Toml/IMG_9693_zpse88260c8.jpg

Just before taxi.

Engines start and we begin to taxi and backtrack down runway 23 for a departure on 05. For some reason I always thought these flights would be restricted to daylight hours. I suppose I've only ever known Shoreham to be a daylight hours airport! It was a novelty to be on an aircraft this small in the dark.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v476/Toml/IMG_9694_zps5d07e860.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v476/Toml/IMG_9697_zps2499082e.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v476/Toml/IMG_9699_zpsac645661.jpg

I'll keep the return fairly brief. There's not a lot to say about a flight that's in the dark, with no IFE, no service and on an aircraft I've already covered!

The flight time from Pontoise to Le Touquet this time was 36 minutes. For the second half of the flight I could heard a very loud and inconsistent banging. I very rarely worry on an aircraft but I can't say I was much of a fan of hearing this. I plugged my ears to drown out the other noise and see if I could still hear a banging... nothing. I was becoming more convinced it was just in my head so I tried to ignore it. If anything, I imagine it would've been ice being shed off the propeller blades and hitting the fuselage. At worst, it was rivets popping out of the fuselage  

The awesome moment was seeing Le Touquets runway lit up with approach lighting, then turning onto final approach and due to the nose down attitude, seeing the entire runway out the first officers window get gradually closer. No photos unfortunately as it would've been pretty difficult.

We land, taxi in to where we were before to see a marshaller waving us in. The pilots followed until the marshaller started to wave us away. We moved in a seemingly random way, did a 360 degree turn and headed towards runway 32. I guess that was our customs stop!

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v476/Toml/IMG_9703_zps7d152f88.jpg

Outside view whilst holding short of runway 32. The green reflection from the navigation light as well as the white from the strobe can be seen, as well as a piece of disused railway that passes through the airport.

Up in the air again, we had a 27 minute hop across to Brighton, where the majority of the flight we were in or under rain clouds. Every time the strobe light flashed, masses of rain was seemingly frozen in mid air like silver needles.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v476/Toml/IMG_9707_zpsc2bc2a72.jpg

A (bad) photo of Brighton whilst heading west along the coast to land on Shorehams runway 02.

Gear and flaps were dropped whilst still high and we made a dive down to be at the correct height for landing. Again the runway bobbed into view ahead of the aircraft outside the first officers window, this time though we had a slight crosswind from the right. Fifty, forty, thirty, twenty, ten, screech. Another touchdown that was almost perfect from a small aircraft like this. The pilots up front certainly were consistent! We stopped on the runway and backtracked once again towards the terminal. A fairly fast paced taxi was ended by slamming of the brakes to make a turning I assume we almost missed! Despite the darkness there were still a fair amount of people waiting to meet the first return commercial flight, with the largest aircraft Shoreham has seen for a while. Rain fell gently as everyone disembarked and I once again waited behind to grab some photos of the flight deck, this time in the dark. I poked my head around the corner to find it in darkness. The captain was perfectly accommodating and gladly switched all the lights back on for me “I think you'll need this one, and this one...” he said as he flicked them all back on.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v476/Toml/IMG_9715edit_zpsf575897f.jpg

I thanked him again and got off the aircraft, into the small terminal where a UK immigration officer stood behind a small plinth. Seeing a stamp sitting next to him I asked whether it was a stamp specifically for Shoreham. “Nope, it's an England stamp, you want one?” “If I'm allowed one, then yes!” He gladly thumped it into my passport. “I'll write 'by request' next to it otherwise they get a bit funny. Oh and leave it open a while to dry”. Perfect!

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v476/Toml/image_1362607947140766_zps4569fe8b.jpg

I say my thanks and bid farewell to the various people on the flight. A relieved CEO, who said he's had two weeks of sleepless nights, has just met his wife and is breathing a sigh of relief. He catches me leaving and thanks me very much for coming along, I thank him for the opportunity and wish him every success in the future, and who knows, maybe more routes!

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v476/Toml/IMG_9720edit_zpsa19bee95.jpg

I head outside, grab one last photo of the aircraft being packed up by the crew, then head the 10 second walk to my car before a nice cruise home.

Conclusion

Well, it was a shaky start for this tiny new operator but once they're into the swing of things it could be a tidy little outfit. The people are enthusiastic, and there's talk of them getting their original aircraft in a couple of days. Maybe this one will have the airlines livery on it. I should've asked when I had the opportunity, but my fingers are crossed that it will! The booking figures certainly sound impressive and the lack of availability for the future certainly seems to be a good thing if it means that the flights are full. It's difficult to give a balanced opinion of an outfit like this when they're on their first day of service and it's from such small airports at both ends, plus the fact I'm an enthusiast. So of course I'm going to say I had a great time! Will it last? There's plenty of cynics out there but if the figures are to be believed, they have a fighting chance. The process at the French end seems a bit awkward with a minibus to a train station, but the options are limited. Operating to a larger airport would be far too expensive and would eliminate the benefits that smaller airports bring. Once customs get their act together and the Le Touquet stop is axed it will be a very efficient service.

Thanks for reading! If you're bored and fancy some more unusual reports, take a look at my previous attempts below. If not, questions are greatly received and, even better, give this service a go! I'd love to see it succeed.

Thanks again  Channel Islands Part 1, GR LGW-GCI ATR72 + Pics (by TupolevTu154 Apr 13 2008 in Trip Reports)
Channel Islands Part 2, GR GCI-JER Trislander+Pics (by TupolevTu154 Apr 13 2008 in Trip Reports)
Channel Islands Part 3. BE JER-LGW EMB195 + Pics (by TupolevTu154 Apr 15 2008 in Trip Reports)
Riding The MadDog For Fun; Spanair MD87 MAD-PMI (by TupolevTu154 Feb 18 2009 in Trip Reports)
Mega MAN Meet Part 1: LCY-EDI BA RJ100 Pics (by TupolevTu154 Jul 6 2009 in Trip Reports)
To HEL... Via Stockholm With SAS And Blue 1. (by TupolevTu154 Oct 15 2010 in Trip Reports)
A Russian Dream Come True Pt 1; Yak 40 LED-CEE (by TupolevTu154 Nov 23 2011 in Trip Reports)
Russian Dream Pt 2: Tu154 From The Flight Deck! (by TupolevTu154 Jan 2 2012 in Trip Reports)
A Dying Breed; KLM MD11 AMS-YUL (by TupolevTu154 Mar 20 2012 in Trip Reports)

(Disclaimer: Some of the above reports were written when I was a fairly immature teenager. So please excuse the childish writing in places   )



Atheists - Winning since 33 A.D.
User currently offlineb737100 From United States of America, joined Jul 2004, 153 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (1 year 5 months 2 weeks 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 16460 times:

What a great trip report and nice pics too! How fun to take the inaugural of a new airline and a meal voucher included, what more could one want? Thanks for sharing and really nice job on the TR.

regards,

will



Boeing 737 sunjet service
User currently offlinemoby147 From UK - England, joined Mar 2013, 50 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (1 year 5 months 2 weeks 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 16378 times:

Super report for a new little airline.   

Sadly as I live 'up north' I will be unlikely to take a flight with them.

But it looks like you had a great day out       

[Edited 2013-03-07 17:20:59]

User currently offlineglobalflyer From United States of America, joined Dec 2005, 926 posts, RR: 3
Reply 9, posted (1 year 5 months 2 weeks 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 15449 times:

Hi Tom, great report on this inaugural! How fun to fly the Let 410. Love the exit placard in Czech too! Love the ITV Report. You are a star in the making! You should have put in a little plug for U2 too!   Maybe crew scheduling would give you the best flights then!   Thanks for sharing. Cheers, Will


Landing on every Continent almost on an annual basis!
User currently offlinedc9northwest From Switzerland, joined Feb 2007, 2280 posts, RR: 7
Reply 10, posted (1 year 5 months 2 weeks 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 15095 times:

Really nice report Tom!

Good to see more of the little Lets here, I was getting tired of all the first class reports with 5 meal pics and nothing else. I've mentioned this before, of course  

Interesting stop at Le Touquet, and I bet the manager wasn't thrilled about it, but definitely better than cancelling the flights indeed.

I'm afraid I won't be giving this service a go but I'm looking at Belfast-Isle of Man on the Let sometime this summer, for what it's worth  


Cheers and thanks for this in-depth look at this operation--nice to be on an inaugural  

Alex


User currently offlineroberts87 From Netherlands, joined Dec 2011, 972 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (1 year 5 months 2 weeks 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 15055 times:

Hi Tom,

What a great report on what seems like a very fun day.
Always good to see a new startup airline, especially if they are flying from those unusual airports.
Thanks for sharing!


User currently offlinelychemsa From United States of America, joined Oct 2009, 1186 posts, RR: 3
Reply 12, posted (1 year 5 months 2 weeks 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 14809 times:

I love the cafe.

I used to go to Shoreham Airport in the late 1950s /1960s.

I believe that in the early 50s they had a flight to Paris.

Do they still have flights to Jersey / Guernsey?


User currently offlinedebonair From Germany, joined Jan 2004, 2416 posts, RR: 4
Reply 13, posted (1 year 5 months 2 weeks 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 14564 times:

Fantastic TR, always great to read from such "exotic" small airlines & airports!

Quoting TupolevTu154 (Thread starter):
Due to French customs having not got their act together, it would be two weeks before they have any customs facilities in Pontoise.

Well, debonair used to fly to POX from LTN back in the '90s - so a custom facility is available at the airport. But it seems more a lack of staff or organization...

Quoting TupolevTu154 (Thread starter):
There would be two return flights a day on weekdays and one on weekends

Pretty low utilization. So, will the LET410 based at ESH or at IOM (doing flights for citywings in between)?


User currently offlineEL-AL From Israel, joined Oct 2001, 1298 posts, RR: 5
Reply 14, posted (1 year 5 months 2 weeks 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 13804 times:

Hey,

Thx for this rare report. I hav never heard of this airline or airport, nor that the 410 is flying anywhere in thr UK.

Joanthan



"In our country, those who do not believe in miracles are irrational" - David Ben Gurion.
User currently offlinejwhite9185 From United Kingdom, joined May 2007, 1273 posts, RR: 4
Reply 15, posted (1 year 5 months 1 week 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 12846 times:

Hi there,

Great to finally read this one - interesting little carrier there between some interesting airports. They seem like a friendly bunch - interesting to compare this one to a certain other airlines inaugural flight in a couple of weeks...



A300,A319,A320,A321,A333,A343,A346,A388,732,733,734,735,738,741,742,744,752,763,772,77W,788,Q400,DC10,E145,E170,E175,E19
User currently offlineTupolevTu154 From Germany, joined Aug 2004, 2181 posts, RR: 28
Reply 16, posted (1 year 5 months 1 week 5 days 6 hours ago) and read 12364 times:

Quoting Luxair747SP (Reply 1):
Also nice that they give food vouchers to the passengers!

I don't think this will be a regular occurrence, but it was nice to have on a special occasion!

Quoting FLIEGER67 (Reply 2):
The perfect style, you know.

Of course, I had you in mind whenever I was presented with a chance like this  
Quoting MEA-707 (Reply 3):
Is the food voucher a standard thing on morning flights or every flight or just for the inaugural you think?

I imagine it'll just be for the inaugural.

Quoting MEA-707 (Reply 3):
Eric and I flew on Manx2's Let OK-TCA last september and I noted the heavy Czech accents of the crew and the children in the safety video, was it sort of the same on this flight?

There was no safety demo, only the FO pointing out the exits etc, but he did have an accent. The Captains wasn't so heavy.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 4):
Ha, I think by ignoring LHR and LCY you've firmly put yourself into the "budget" airline category

Unfortunately   

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 4):
So,. what would happen if you had a "funny" passport. I guess they'd want to open up and stamp it? Nice you got a UK stamp...I'm surprised they even did that on request.

I don't know how they'd know if you had a "funny passport", but I did have to give passport details etc when booking my flight. As for the UK stamp, he offered!

Quoting reifel (Reply 5):
The LET is a great plane, I flew it in Estonia on a domestic flight (but it had rather benches, while your plane was really comfy it seems!)

Sounds like some sort of Let specifically for skydiving? And good choice of country, I love Estonia!

Quoting globalflyer (Reply 9):
You should have put in a little plug for U2 too!

Definately shouldn't have  
Quoting dc9northwest (Reply 10):
Good to see more of the little Lets here, I was getting tired of all the first class reports with 5 meal pics and nothing else

Me too! These are the types of reports I prefer, where it's really about the aircraft and the flying, the window views and the unusual opportunities.

Quoting lychemsa (Reply 12):
I love the cafe.

I used to go to Shoreham Airport in the late 1950s /1960s.

I believe that in the early 50s they had a flight to Paris.

Do they still have flights to Jersey / Guernsey?

Wow, I would love to have seen it back then! Were they still manufacturing the Beagles back then? I don't remember them ever doing flights to Jersey or Guernsey, but as I said, they did have flights to Alderney.

Quoting roberts87 (Reply 11):
Always good to see a new startup airline,

Hopefully one that will be sticking around.

Quoting debonair (Reply 13):
But it seems more a lack of staff or organization...

This is exactly the reason as far as I'm aware!

Quoting debonair (Reply 13):
Pretty low utilization. So, will the LET410 based at ESH or at IOM (doing flights for citywings in between)?

I think one Let 410 will be based at ESH all the time for these flights only. Operating ESH-POX-ESH-POX-ESH daily.

Quoting EL-AL (Reply 14):
I hav never heard of this airline or airport, nor that the 410 is flying anywhere in thr UK.

The Let 410 has been operating out of IOM for several years now with Manx2 (now known as Citywing).

Quoting jwhite9185 (Reply 15):
interesting to compare this one to a certain other airlines inaugural flight in a couple of weeks...

Who would that be?



Atheists - Winning since 33 A.D.
User currently offlineDufo From Slovenia, joined May 1999, 798 posts, RR: 4
Reply 17, posted (1 year 5 months 1 week 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 12340 times:

Nice report!
I flew for Vanair (also on OK-ASA) in 2007 from IOM and it was an interesting experience, especially for weather.
These L410's are equipped by practically all systems found on much larger airplanes, tcas, gpws, digital weather radar, color lcd moving map.. and yes, it is not difficult to grease the landing!

Interestingly thought, you mention that there is almost no safety briefing - we did it on IOM flights, including introduction, exits, no smoking, life jackets, seatbelts, mobiles off and safety card location. As required, before every flight. Passengers soon knew us by names.

Nice to see Peter on the left seat, when I left the gang, he was just starting as a first officer.

Cheers  



I seriously think I just creamed my pants without any influence from any outside variables.
User currently offlineMSS658 From Belgium, joined Oct 2010, 2474 posts, RR: 15
Reply 18, posted (1 year 5 months 1 week 3 days 21 hours ago) and read 12001 times:

Hi

Nice report, thanks for sharing it with us
First report of Brighton Airways and maybe a good thing to try out once.
They seem to be fun with a rare A/C to log.

Greetings
Marc



Next trip report: Well worn A330s and Hassle free MUC transfer
User currently offlineraffik From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2006, 1716 posts, RR: 4
Reply 19, posted (1 year 5 months 1 week 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 11603 times:

Thanks for a great report- I only live down the road so could possibly find this service useful.

I am wondering if it would have been better for them to opt for the LET410s which have a rear lavatory installed- just incase. What if somebody was ill or very desperate to go?

Thanks!



Happy -go- lucky kinda guy!
User currently offlineairbuseric From Netherlands, joined Jan 2005, 4268 posts, RR: 51
Reply 20, posted (1 year 4 months 3 weeks 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 10045 times:

Thanks Tom for bringing up this tripreport on an interesting route for sure. Shame the aircraft was still in Citywing colours, but I guess Vanair will swap around a bit with their fleet of LETs in the UK.
Cool pics, and surely the most interesting option to reach Paris from the UK, I think.

Regards
Eric



"The whole world steps aside for the man who knows where he is going"
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