Contact Air From Germany, joined Apr 2001, 1154 posts, RR: 9 Posted (11 years 8 months 2 weeks 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 3128 times:
Having already been to Nice once (last year in October), and having enjoyed spotting there very much, I now wanted to return. This time, I was accompanied by fellow A.net-member Alex (Ndebele). I was also curious to experience DBA’s new service concept.
Saturday, 14 August 2004
Stuttgart (STR) – Nice (NCE)
Flight number: BA (Germany)">DI 4607
Scheduled departure time: 10:30
Scheduled arrival time: 11:45
Type of aircraft: Boeing B 737-300
This aircraft was built and delivered to DBA in 1997.
I arrived at Stuttgart Airport two hours before departure. Check-in was very quick and efficient, there was no wait at all. After some spotting from the observation deck, I passed security and made my way to gate 333 where I met Alex (Ndebele).
Our aircraft had just arrived from HAM and had found its parking position directly in front of the gate. The rotation of the aircraft is HAM-STR-NCE-STR-HAM, so DBA collects passengers from two airports for the flight to Nice. The passengers who had only booked the leg HAM-STR left the aircraft, a bit later boarding for NCE started. There were only five passengers from HAM left on the aircraft. Obviously, LH’s decision to offer HAM-NCE non-stop didn’t really have a positive influence on DBA’s load factor on this route… But now quite a lot new pax from STR boarded the plane; there were all in all about 90 people on boar for NCE which makes a load factor of 65%.
We were welcomed by three female flight attendants. Free newspapers and a selection of (also free) magazines were offered at the door. We found our seats in the back of the aircraft: Alex had 21A, I had 21B while 21C remained empty.
DBA’s flight attendants now wear new green uniforms in the actual corporate design. The in-flight magazine “on time” tells the passengers that these new uniforms have been designed by Yannik, a fashion brand of Hans Rudolf Wöhrl’s fashion company. For those of you who don’t know: Wöhrl, the owner of a fashion company with department stores mainly in Southern Germany, bought DBA one year ago from BA for 1 Euro.
We were off-block on time, taxied to the runway and took off into the cloudy sky of Stuttgart. Flight route was STR-Zurich-Milan-NCE. We had a female captain on this flight who introduced herself as Monika Köllning. By the way: there is a picture of her in the September-issue of Aero International (German aviation magazine) in a report about female flight crews, explaining that she is one of two female captains, plus 7 co-pilots, on DBA-aircraft.
Shortly after take-off, the cabin crew started with the service. Since a few weeks, free in-flight service has returned at DBA. On morning flights, every passenger has the choice between a hot “Laugenstange” (a kind of bread made of pretzel dough) or a yoghurt muffin, and a drink. Drink service contains soft drinks, tea or coffee as well as alcoholic drinks including beer and wine. They announced that service was limited to one drink and one food item per passenger, which I find all right on short-haul flights. While Alex had a “Laugenstange”, I tried the muffin.
After being clouded over Germany and Switzerland, the air became clear over Italy. We reached the Mediterranean Sea where we made a U-turn which offered all passengers on the left side (like us) a good view to Corsica. The approach was as usual in Eastern direction, so we had a great view to the coastline with Cannes, Antibes and all the other cities of the Côte d’Azur.
We touched down and taxied to our parking position at Terminal 1. On leaving the plane, every passenger got a DBA chocolate heart. This has been a typical gift for the customers when the airline still belonged to BA, and now they have returned again (but today in the new green DBA-design).
We spent the next hours with spotting from the cafeteria in the modern Terminal 2.
The airport is directly at the seaside and offers some quite interesting movements, especially in summer: apart from tons of Air France and Easyjet aircraft, all main European carriers as well as low-cost carriers, there are also some “specials” like a Royal Air Maroc B 747-400, a Tunisair A 300-600 and lots of biz-jets of all sizes, (for example a Saudi Arabian B 767 of Kingdom Holding or an MD-83 of Jetalliance from Austria). I also saw my first Emb 170 (LOT).
This aircraft was built and delivered to DBA in the end of 1999, being one of the last ever built B 737 classic.
On Sunday afternoon, we returned to the airport. Check-in was done by Globe Ground and opened two hours prior to departure at 15:10 with three (!) counters. We had already had a look on the arrivals monitor where it said for the incoming flight from HAM/STR “next info at 15:40”, which meant that there would obviously be a delay. But there was no additional information provided at check-in.
We passed security and went to the gate area A. There, a delay of about one hour was announced “due to the late arrival of the aircraft from STR”. The aircraft arrived at about 17:30 (D-ADIC), together with an other DBA from DUS (B 737-500 OY-APL in white colours).
Boarding started at 18:00, this time we had seats 7A and 7B. There were all in all 98 passengers on board, 61 of them for STR and 37 for HAM. The cabin crew (two female, one male flight attendants) apologized for the delay which had been caused by handling problems at STR. We were off-block at 15:15 which meant a turn-around time of 45 minutes. Not the best performance if the aircraft is already delayed… But maybe there was also a slot, we weren’t told about that. Safety announcements were made in German and English (like always) and this time they also played a tape in French language.
It was the same captain like the day before. We took off, this time very un-typical in Western direction. As STR is in Eastern direction, we made a U-turn again. Then we were flying along the coast witch views to Genoa, later over the Alps, ZRH and the Lake Constance to STR.
Service on afternoon and evening flights consists of either a “muesli bar, a package of crisps or savoury biscuits (“Salzgebäck” ), plus a drink service and the chocolate heart.
Approach into STR was from the West. We landed at 19:30 and taxied to a parking position in front of Terminal 3 where the STR-pax left the aircraft. A new crew was waiting at the gate, so there was obviously a crew change before the continued flight to HAM.
Conclusion: DBA was good as always, friendly service and an on-time flight on Saturday. Delays like on Sunday can happen on every airline. The new service concept with free food and drink service makes a difference to “real” low-cost airlines.
Thanks for reading my report, questions or comments are always welcomed.
Contact Air From Germany, joined Apr 2001, 1154 posts, RR: 9
Reply 2, posted (11 years 8 months 2 weeks 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 3079 times:
And one other addition which I couldn't post with the rest of the report:
We had a hotel only one km away from the airport in St. Laurent du Var, the town next to Nice Airport. Although you can’t call the town itself beautiful, it has a nice beach from where you can watch the movements of the airport. We spent the evening and the next morning there. Very relaxing, sitting on the beach in the sun watching the aircraft, and a nice contrast to the cold weather in Germany. Here are some pics taken from that beach:
FLIEGER67 From Germany, joined Sep 2003, 5243 posts, RR: 53
Reply 3, posted (11 years 8 months 2 weeks 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 3066 times:
Hi Contact Air,
very interesting report, especially as I´ve done the same route and airline near a year ago. And thanx for your details about DBAs new service, I know now exactly what to expect on my next flight with DBA early next month.
I was on Germanwings STR-VIE-STR at 12/14 August, both days show some delays with DBA. Do you or Ndebele know more about it?
TriStar500 From Germany, joined Nov 1999, 4706 posts, RR: 39
Reply 4, posted (11 years 8 months 2 weeks 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 2396 times:
Hi Alex and Christoph!
Good to read that you enjoyed most of your time in Nice, and thank you very much for an interesting and very detailed report. Having been to NCE on a day trip on now-defunct AOM and Air Liberté only once in 2002, I had a hard time to find any suitable viewing positions. How hard would it be to walk or take a bus from the airport to the "beach position"? I am very interested in the French aviation scene and would certainly like to add some impressions from airports other than CDG and ORY to my repertoire .)
Homer: Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true!
Ndebele From Germany, joined Apr 2001, 2905 posts, RR: 21
Reply 6, posted (11 years 8 months 2 weeks 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 2316 times:
thanks for this great trip report, very detailed, reading your report made me feel like I was with you on that trip
We had a female captain on this flight who introduced herself as Monika Köllning. By the way: there is a picture of her in the September-issue of Aero International
Could you lend me this magazine, please? On my way of becoming a low-cost spotter, I cancelled my Aero subscription last year.
both days show some delays with DBA. Do you or Ndebele know more about it?
Well the DBA flights to TXL are probably the most-on-time flights of all flights at STR, you hardly see any delay, they're nearly always a few minutes ahead of schedule. Regarding the flights to HAM and NCE: It's true that these flights seem to be delayed sometimes, however our 1-hour-delay on the return flight was much more than normal, but yes, there are occasionally delays of 15 or 30 minutes - but I don't know about the reasons.
How hard would it be to walk or take a bus from the airport to the "beach position"?
Walking is no problem at all - on Sunday we walked from the beach back to the airport, which took about 20 minutes. Taking the bus however sucks - we wanted to take the bus on Saturday, the first bus at 18:20 didn't show up at all, the second bus at 19:00 was delayed for 20 minutes, and when we were finally in the bus, the driver was not very helpful, didn't want to stop at our bus stop, then Christoph (who speaks French very well) asked him to stop, he stopped, opened the door and closed it again immediately after Christoph had left the bus. I (who doesn't speak any French) had a hard time telling the driver that I wanted to leave as well. So don't take the bus, just walk to the Corse terminal (between T1 and T2) and from there follow the road over a bridge, after the bridge just take any road to the left towards the beach.
No there is no possibility to buy an extra meal or drink - which I understand completely, how many passengers buy a second meal or drink on a 1-hour flight when they just got one meal and drink for free? They would sell maybe one or two drinks on each flight, which would certainly cost them more for administration than the few Euros they would earn. I think the free meal and drink was quite okay and indeed made a difference to the "real" LCCs.
From the cafeteria in T2 you can see the runway, part of the aircraft parked in front of T2 and the General Aviation ramp next to T2. Not very nice, but it's air-conditioned and you can spot every registration.
As the photos posted above show, you can see the aircraft taxiing towards the runway which is usually used for take-offs, which is the longer of the two runways. All landing aircraft can be seen from there as well, at least as long as they are taking off / landing in eastern direction.
Contact Air From Germany, joined Apr 2001, 1154 posts, RR: 9
Reply 7, posted (11 years 8 months 2 weeks 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 2290 times:
Thanks to all of you for your replies and thanks to Alex to aswer the questions!
Let me just go into some more points:
@ Frederic: I'm surprised to see those low loadfactors! Is DBA a profitable airline?
Under BA, when the airline was still called Deutsche BA, they were making losses for more than ten years. The situation was nearly hopeless and BA sold the airline for 1 EUR to get rid of it. But the new management under Hans Rudolf Wöhrl seems to be on the best way to manage the turn-around: according to several articles in German newspapers, they have just announced that they are expecting the first profitable months in autumn this year. The whole business year is expected to end with a "black zero" (no profit/no losses).
The most important (and most successful) routes of DBA's network have always been (and still are) the German domestic market with flights mainly between their hubs (MUC / TXL) and other German cities. They seem to do quite well on these routes with offering a good alternative to LH, mainly for business travellers. Apart from that, they have always tried to build up also some international destinations, but mostly without longer lasting success (MAD, BCN, LGW have been discontinued after a short time again). NCE is a destination they obviously want to keep: flight to NCE are bookable until March 2005 on their web page. It is served from five German airports (with 3 daily flights, the other two being stopover destinations). However, there is a lot of competition on these routes as the LCC's Germanwings, Easyjet and V-Bird have discovered the destination as well and LH has added NCE to the list of their 99 EUR summer specials and has increased the flight there. All this doesn't help DBA to improve load factors, so I doubt that this route is really profitable at the moment. But loads on the NCE-route aren't typical for the whole DBA-network.
did you take a picture of the meals? And what exactly is a joghurt-muffin?
Unfortunately, we didn't take any pictures on this trip. A joghurt muffin is in fact not too much different from an ordinary (white) muffin, but with joghurt taste.
@ Jens and Frederic:
About spotting at NCE:
As Alex has already mentioned, if you want to do reg-spotting, you get all regs from the cafeteria as well as from the beach. If you want to take pictures and have an enjoyable time at the seaside, the beach is the first option. The two last pics I posted (BA BAe 146 and Saudia MD-11) are taken from that beach. The town is called Saint Laurent du Var and is the next town West of the airport (from the airport in the direction of Cannes - NOT in the direction of Nice Centre). It is less than a kilometre, so you can easily walk; however, with all the roads leading to and from the airport, it might be a bit difficult to find. If you prefer the bus (even after Alex's comment...) check www.nice-aeroport.fr for details and click the "Accès et stationnement" button, there you can obtain all bus timetables. A taxi is probably also not too expensive for this short distance, but then you would have a very angry driver (after waiting for hours in the airport taxi queue just for a 1 km-ride)...
The hotel we were staying at is also recommendable for spotting tourists; it is only maybe 100 metres away from that beach (but the hotel itself doesn't provide any good views as there are buildings around) The hotel is called Comfort Hotel Galaxie, a 3 star hotel with basic standard. We paid EUR 80,00 for a double room in the high season, incl. breakfast. It is supposed to be cheaper outside the holidays.
If you have any further questions, don't hesitate to ask!
GodBless From Sweden, joined Apr 2000, 2753 posts, RR: 15
Reply 10, posted (11 years 8 months 2 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 2224 times:
Great report! I enjoyed it especially because I will fly to Nice on saturday with my brother on Germanwings from CGN. Since it by then will be a week since I was at the beach in California it's about time to get some sun again.
I bet 4U will sooner or later start STR-NCE and that will probably cause some problems at dba... But I sure hope not.