24 passengers (Load-Factor 80%)
I arrived at the airport at about 11.35. Check-In was at the Swissport check-in counters in line 5. It was very fast, I just had to show them my passport and confirmation e-mail. I was surprised they choosed Swissport as their handling agent, especially because they're a low cost airline, as Jet Aviation is much cheaper as far as I know. However, I spent some time checking e-mails and going round the terminals to get new timetables for my collection. We had to take the bus to get to get to the aircraft, it was the first time I was in their new bus terminal called "Terminal C". I wouldn't call it "Terminal", it is just a big tent. The bus brought us to the aircraft which was standing at the other end of the airport to the area in front of the freight buildings where normally there are just Swiss regional aircraft, such as Saab 2000s and ERJ-145s. SkyEurope’s single aircraft, EMB-120 OM-SKY, looks very nice. It is wearing to colors of the national flag of Slovakia. The aircraft is leased from the owner of Metropolis and was previously operated by BASE Airlines in British Airways colors. It was the second time I was sitting in the aircraft now, I already was inside the plane at the press conference of SkyEurope a few weeks earlier.
Photo © JAN JENDROL
We departed a little late on RWY 10 behind a Saab 2000 wearing new Swiss colors. Because of the bad weather looking out of the window wasn’t the most interesting option, so I leafed through the timetables I got at the airport. After a few moments the flight-attendant announced she will serve drinks and sandwiches now. They offer coffee, tea or mineral water and cheese or ham sandwiches. Surprisingly, everything was free of charge. However, they told me it would be cheaper to provide them for free then spending money on price lists, accounting etc. If someone has been to Slovakia you probably know how cheap everything is there, so you most probably could also understand them. The flight was very smooth. The captain began the descent to Bratislava a few minutes before overflying Vienna. Fortunately, the weather was better in the East of Austria, so I could look down at Vienna airport. A few minutes later we approached Bratislava. The captain did a visual approach and flew a 90° left turn just a few seconds before touch-down. I never experienced this before. As we taxied to the airport building I could see nothing but very interesting planes: Air Koryo Il-62M, Slovak Airlines Tu-154, Slovak Government Tu-154s and Yak-40s, ABA Air Fokker 27, Air Slovakia B737-200 still wearing Southwest colors, they just removed the titles and replaced them by Air Slovakia titles. There was also an ATR 72 of CSA Czech Airlines. The airport looks very new, I learned the new arrival hall was built in 1995. However, there are only few daily flights, most of them to Kosice in the East of Slovakia, Prague and Moscow. The airport was nearly empty both times I was there.
April 25, 2002
16 passengers (Load-Factor 53%)
I took the bus to the airport. When I arrived there at about 08.45 there was nobody in the departing hall apart from two check-in agents. Logically check-in was again very fast so I decided to have a look if there is a place to watch at the apron and the runways. I went upstairs and found myself in front of a Swiss ticket office. Why the hell do they need a ticket office at an empty airport in Slovakia? Just a few metres away there was a nice restaurant, there was even a visitor terrace. Now, a Balkan Bulgarian Cargo Antonov AN-12 freighter was also parked at the airport. A few minutes later SkyEurope’s single aircraft, OM-SKY, arrived from Kosice followed by a Slovak Airlines Yak-40 which was also coming from Kosice. As there were lots of people boarding the Air Koryo Il-62M I hoped the aircraft would take-off soon but I didn’t until my flights back to Zurich took off. I think the Il-62M was operated for government as the passengers boarding the aircraft were driven to the aircraft directly from outside the airport. 30 minutes before take-off I went to the gate. There were lots of shops and bars in the departure area. Most of the shops were closed but all three bars were open. I don’t know how they survive with just 300-400 departing passengers a day. There was an escalator from every gate down to the apron.
I had seat 5A, just above the wing. The flight was again very smooth, same service as on the flight to Bratislava. Again nothing but clouds after shortly after overflying Vienna airport.
They even allowed people to visit the cockpit, however I didn’t asked as I saw inside the cockpit from my seat anyway. We arrived a little late because of „traffic jams“ north of Zurich, I just made it on the train back to Zurich main station that departed at 11.43 and beat my record to get from the aircraft to the train at Zurich by two minutes.