Thursday, June 16th marked a historical event for my local airport, Basel-Mulhouse. At 11.30 this morning the first easyJet Switzerland A-319 that will be based in BSL arrived after its ferry flight from Geneva. The same afternoon, easyJet organized a special flight over the Swiss mountains with some local politicians, media representatives and aviation related people. Also, the aircraft (HB-JZK) was named "City of Basel" with a good glass of champagne. That's it, a moment that I have waited for years. Therefore I decided to book myself on the first ever easyJet flight with a Basel based aircraft. As soon as the timetable was released, it became clear that this flight will be from Basel to Nice on Friday, June 17th.
Date: Friday, 17th of June 2005
Flight number: EZS1003
Company: easyJet Switzerland
Aircraft: A-319 HB-JZK "City of Basel"
Route: Basel/Mulhouse EuroAirport-Nice Cote d'Azur
Passengers on board: 136
Load factor: 87.1%
Fare: 99.95 Swiss Francs
Photo © Sébastien GLAENTZLIN
I needed to get up very early, at 4.45 because the flight was scheduled to leave at 7:00. My dad drove me to the airport where I arrived at around 5:30. A TNT Express Cargo A-300 freighter just arrived from Liège when I entered the terminal. The new South terminal just opened a few days ago.
Photo © Sean Mendis
My flight was listed on the screen and I proceeded to check-in.
Check-in was made by Swissport. I did not have anything to cjeck in so everything went very fast and I got sequence number 15, which means priority boarding!
Then I proceeded through customs and security and entered the Y-terminal. Our aircraft was visible in the distance. easyJet has its own boarding area in Basel, located in some former Crossair facilities. TNT A-300, Fedex A-310 and a business jet are also visible.
After a coffee and a croissant I decided to walk around a little bit. At this early time of day there are mainly aircraft at the airport that came in the night before and doing a nightstop in BSL. Here you can see some SWISS Embraers and an Air Nostrum/Iberia CRJ (special livery COMMUNITAT VALENCIANA) as well as an OS Arrows CRJ.
Lufthansa 737, receiving some fuel for the flight to Frankfurt.
HELLO MD-90, ready for an early morning flight to Palermo, Italy. I would like to dedicate this picture to all HELLO employees (although the picture is not in a very good quality). They do a great job and managed to generate profits already in their first year of operations! Two thumbs up for them and GO GO GO!
Some SWISS aircraft, as well as Cimber Air, Air France Régional and Farnair ATR-42 and Fokker-27.
HapagFly early morning departure to Palma de Mallorca, in the background you can see Air France Régional Fokker-100 (flight to Paris CDG) and Air France A-320 (flight to Paris ORY).
British Airways A-319 and two SWISS Embraers. My dad arrived on HB-JAU just a few hours earlier (22:45 the night before) from Zurich. He was supposed to fly WAW-AND OLD: Munich - Riem (MUC / EDDM) (closed), Germany">MUC-BSL on LH but missed his connection in AND OLD: Munich - Riem (MUC / EDDM) (closed), Germany">MUC and he got rerouted WAW-AND OLD: Munich - Riem (MUC / EDDM) (closed), Germany">MUC-ZRH-BSL. The flight was 100% full and there was even a waiting list for passengers. But I bet SWISS will cut tjis flight in the near future due to "low load factors"
Boarding commenced almost on time. People in Basel are not very used to easyJet yet. It seems to be a big problem for many people TO READ THEIR TICKET AND WAIT UNTIL THEY CAN BOARD!!! Basically the people with boarding numbers 130 were waiting first in line causing a big chaos.
Like mentioned before, the flight was booked very well. Load factor was 87.1% and this is the first flight ever on this route by easyJet! It will stay a secret forever why SWISS decided to drop this route some time ago. Officially they did it because of "low load factors".
We pushed back and taxied towards runway 16. The very friendly crew was in a good mood. You can really feel that these people like to work for this company. The captain made a short announcement, welcoming everyone on board and mentioning that this is the first flight on this route. We reached rwy16 after 2 or 3 minutes and were number 3 for departure after an Air France Embraer-135 (flight to Lyon) and an Air France Régional Fokker100 (flight to Paris CDG). After us there were another 2 planes lining up, a SWISS Saab2000 and an OS Arrows CRJ. Take off procedure was like usual, that means an immediate right turn after departure to avoid noise over the city of Basel. But I had a good view of my home city anyway. Soon after departure we had an excellent view of Lake Biel, Lake Neuchatel and Lake Murten, the city of Yverdon and the Alps.
We crossed Geneva and soon after that we started our decent into Nice. Approach was very spectacular with some very low turns and a good view of the beautiful town of Antibes. After 1 hour flying time we touched down.
Nice is a very nice city and I have spent two excellent days there, visiting Nice itself but also Antibes and Cannes.
Date: Saturday, June 18th 2005
Flight number: EZS1008
Company: easyJet Switzerland
Aircraft: A-319 HB-JZK "City of Basel"
Route: Nice Cote d'Azur- Basel/Mulhouse EuroAirport
Passengers on board: approx. 120
Load factor: approx. 75%
Fare: 44.95 Swiss Francs
I took bus 99 to the airport early enough and went to eat a burger in terminal two, then went to check-in. I was early enough again to get priority boarding.
Went through security and waited in the boarding area. Boarding commenced and the A-319 was loaded pretty well again considering this is only the second day of operations. Again the crews welcomed everyone personally with a smile and a "welcome aboard", "bonsoir" or "guten abend". Captain announced a flying time of only 55 minutes and soon we were ready to push back.
Take off was towards the city with an immediate tight turn.
Crossing the city of Nice (notice the airport).
In the meantime board service began and I decided to drink a mineral water. I paid 1.40 Euro for it. A very fair price in my opinion.
Again we had a good view of the mountains, soon after crossing the Swiss border we started our decent. All of a sudden I saw the city of Bern, with the Aare river. I managed to spot the "Bundeshaus" (Swiss parliament building) as well as the newly build "Stade de Suisse" football stadium. We crossed the Jura hills very low and started to fly towards BSL. Approach was spectacular, with some very low flying turns over the BSL region. This is very rare, usually you land on rwy 16, today we landed on rwy 34, a direct approach over the city!
Who needs Kai Tak if you have Basel?
Landing was smooth and we left the runway. After us, an Air France Régional Fokker 100 landed after a charter flight from Dubrovnik/Croatia.
Once again I had a very pleasant trip on easyJet. I will use them again very soon!
I hope you enjoyed reading this report. As usual, feel free to make comments!