Several weeks ago, Jumbolino asked me if I would like to come to Munich to welcome the first InterSky flight that was scheduled to land there on July 5. We decided to start that route about two months ago along with the decision to take over the Berne-Paris route Swiss had left at the end of March. InterSky and its predecessor Rheintalflug have been operating charter flights between Switzerland and Elba for about 20 years and there is a strong relationship between our management and the island. Augsburg Airways was more or less forced by its partner Lufthansa to give up their own operations and therefore they also didn’t resumed their scheduled flights between Munich and Elba this summer, so we decided to take over this route.
I was originally planning to go to Munich by train but after I heard how cheap the stand-by ticket from Altenrhein to Elba I had to buy from the tour operator who is selling the seats on this charter flight was, I of course preferred to go there by plane. It is not only funnier but also much more comfortable than a stressful journey onboard 2A (Deutsche Bahn) and their not too punctual regional trains.
Altenrhein is located in Switzerland, close to the Lake of Constance, however as it is very close to the Austrian border, it mainly serves as a gateway for the state of Vorarlberg which is in the very West of Austria while Vienna is in the very East. It takes some eight hours to get to Vienna by train and the ERJ-145s and Dash 8-400s of Tyrolean Airways which are commuting on the Altenrhein-Vienna route make it in just over an hour. To get there, I took the free bus shuttle leaving from Bregenz fifty minutes before departure. It arrived at the airport at about 10.30; the aircraft had just come in from Elba a few minutes earlier. While it would be a major problem to check-in 10 minutes before departure at other airports, it’s just business as usual at Altenrhein. The airport is very small, there is just one departure gate, a travel agency, a restaurant and two check-in gates. That’s it; however it is one of my favourite airports in terms of convenience. More or less 20 metres from the bus to the aircraft . As I just bought the ticket the day before, I obviously wasn’t on the passenger list but it turned out to be no problem either. The captain was very surprised to see me checking in and even more surprised when he heard that I was going to Munich.
Saturday, July 5
InterSky Dash 8-300 D-BLEJ
Altenrhein, Switzerland – Elba Island, Italy
Load-Factor: about 95%
Scheduled 10.45 – 12.20
Actual 11.00 – 12.25
Unfortunately I couldn’t get a window seat but with a stand-by ticket you can’t complain anyway. Boarding was very fast as it was raining; everyone was very interested in getting into the aircraft as soon as possible. It was actually the second time I was flying on D-BLEJ this week; the aircraft is leased from Augsburg Airways and was delivered to InterSky two weeks ago. I kinda like the new website titles on the engines, it looks nicer than our first aircraft.
Photo © Bruno Althaus
Last Monday I returned from a little low-cost trip with bmibaby (Munich-Cardiff-Paris CDG) on the first flight on the Paris CDG-Berne route. I was one of the last passengers to board the aircraft and was happy to meet one of the flight attendants I know quite well. I have never been afraid of flying, but it is always just a little bit more comfortable if you know all crew members. I found out I had got an exit row seat which was fine for me, so I at least had a little bit more leg room than usual at least. I was sitting next to a girl who was reading the latest Harry Potter book all the time on the way to Elba, by the way. Soon after boarding we taxied to the end of the runway, turned around and waited for take-off, however as ATC was very busy, we were forced to taxi back to the terminal again as a Tyrolean ERJ-145 was about to arrive from Vienna. After OE-LSM had landed, we taxied back to the end of the runway once again and did a rolling take-off. After take-off we did a sharp right turn, so I was able to take a glimpse of the airport once again until we entered layer of clouds. As soon as we were south of the Alps, the clouds disappeared and from there on there weather was just more than nice to fly. Just as we flew over the Swiss canton of Ticino my colleague started service, first a round of ham, cheese or chicken sandwiches, then a round of “Linzer cakes” or Biberli and at the end followed by a drink service. Our route was Altenrhein-Chur (the town I lived before I moved to Austria)-Locarno-Milan-Genoa-Elba. During the descent to Elba, Corsica was in sight on the horizon, the approach into Marina di Campo airport was breathtaking, and we overflew the island at very low height then made an extremely sharp turn over the sea south of the island and approached from the South. As the runway is very short, the aircraft approached at very low speed and brakes and thrust reversers are really recommended if a 50-seater wants to land there … .
There were lots of small Pipers, Beeches and Cessnas sitting around the tarmac, an Aerocondor Do228-200s was also parked there, Air A!ps Do328-110 OE-LKE landed just two minutes after our flight.
After all passengers had left the aircraft, I helped cleaning the aircraft, sorting all seat pockets and so on. Afterwards I decided to go out and have a closer look at the Aerocondor Do228-200 aircraft parked in front of our Dash, I have seen Do228 aircraft before, for example LGW’s Do228 flying around in Germany, but I have never had the chance to have a closer look at it so far. I went back to our aircraft and had some cups of ice tea until boarding started, I knew that there would only be some 10-15 passengers onboard. Most of passengers travelling on this route are Germans and as it was the first flight of the season, there were not many passengers we had already flown to Elba and so the poor load was not too surprising. It looks like the route would become very successful; we already sold some 60% of seats for September and October now, so we will surely reach profitability on that route too.
Saturday, July 5
InterSky Dash 8-300 D-BLEJ
Elba Island, Italy – Munich, Germany
Load-Factor: about 20%
Scheduled 12.50 – 14.30
Actual 13.10 – 14.40
Seats 11A, B, C and D
On the flight out of the wonderful Italian island, my stay was way too short unfortunately; I had the exit row for myself which was very nice as I could change from one window to another to see all interesting landmarks. Once again, it was a pleasure to fly over Italy; I was able to see the leaning tower of Pisa, the opera of Verona and so on. The Munich-Elba flights are normal scheduled, low-cost flights, tickets starting from 59 EUR one-way and therefore there was our normal Skybar service where one is able to buy drinks and snacks from the bar. An unaccompanied minor was sitting in the row behind me and while my colleague tried to make him happy with ice tea, chocolate, postcards, “Gummibärchen” and so on, he kept refusing everything and swearing all the time … . The routing on this flight was Elba-Pisa-Bologna-Verona-Bolzano-Innsbruck-Munich. Soon after passing over Verona, there unfortunately were nothing but heavy clouds and there was no way to see everything, so I resumed reading newspaper and ticking off aircraft in my jp which I had seen at Altenrhein and Elba. We approached right over the city centre of Munich, I have only been to the city twice so far and it was nice to get an overview of it from the air. During our descent into MUC, a Condor … sorry Thomas Cook powered by Condor B757-300 passed. We landed on the Southern runway about 10 minutes late, our parking position was next to a Lufthansa CityLine CRJ-700, I have to say, the apron at Terminal 1 looks really empty now after more or less all Star Alliance aircraft have been moved to Terminal 2, even Eurowings ATR 72 were sitting at stands where earlier there were nothing but A321s and even A340s. I said goodbye to my colleagues and entered the bus which was bringing us to the terminal where I met Jumbolino.
We decided to go to the visitors hill by train as soon as possible, but in order to get a better photograph of D-BLEJ, we wanted to go to a hill nearer to the parking position, however as soon as we arrived there, we just saw it departing on the Northern runway … . You know the rest of the story.
Looking forward to your comments and to meeting more of you guys at MUC the last time when weather will most probably be a little more spotter-friendly.
BTW, the visitors deck at Terminal 2 is quite nice, however I think the glass is not too good for photographers, as a registration spotter I don’t mind whether there is a glass or not. The good thing about the terrace is that one is able to stay under this glass construction without getting wet when it’s raining.
[Edited 2003-07-07 00:59:58]