Birmingham Airport 2015 - The Year in Review

Welcome to "BHX 2015 - The Year in Review" which brings the highlights
of the year at Birmingham Airport together in a photo review

2015 has been another fascinating year at Birmingham Airport! - the opening
of the 400 metre runway extension in May 2014 has helped to put BHX on the
map and started a new era in the airports development....

.... the result has been an influx of new airlines in 2015 - which is continuing into 2016 - while the
improving economy underpinned by the strong local manufacturing sector - the "Midlands Engine" -
has not only helped to boost the passenger numbers but also resulted in a never ending influx of
interesting freighters to help keep local industry moving

The year also saw the return of charter flights from China with Hainan Airlines operating a twice
weekly Boeing 767-34PER non-stop service from Beijing throughout the peak summer season

It has been an exceptional year on the airline and route development front! - Icelandair started
a twice weekly Boeing 757 service to Reykjavik on Thursday 5 February 2015 with the inaugural
flight operated by TF-FIU in their Aurora Borealis/Northern Lights special colour scheme, Norwegian
started flights to Madrid on Sunday 29 March 2015 and by the end of the year were serving
5 destinations - Barcelona, Las Palmas, Madrid, Malaga and Tenerife -  with VLM commencing a
4 times weekly Fokker 50 service to Waterford on Monday 27 April 2015, American Airlines following
on Friday 8 May 2015 when they commenced a daily Boring 757 service to New York JFK and
Vueling starting their new Airbus A320 service to Barcelona on Saturday 23 May 2015

The autumn saw the arrival of Wizz Air who operated their first service to Warsaw on Monday
14 September 2015 and already also serve Budapest and Poznan with more new routes announced
for 2016. On Tuesday 24 November 2015 they also brought up their first Airbus A321-231 HA-LXA
from Luton to launch it to their airport Partners and the media

It was another good year for the network scheduled carriers, Air France, Air India, Brussels Airlines,
Emirates, KLM, Lufthansa, SAS, Swiss, Turkish Airlines and United Airlines with many upgrades during
the year and on Saturday 1 August 2015 the introduction of a third daily Emirates Boeing 777-31HER
flight to Dubai.  Turkmenistan also started to use their Boeing 777-22KLRs  on peak season services
to Ashkhabad which connects onward to India

As a result the passenger numbers grew strongly setting new records on an almost monthly basis and
finally breaking through the "10 million passengers in a year" barrier on Thursday 27 August 2015, for
the first time in Birmingham Airport's 76 year history

There was plenty of variety in the IT/inclusive tour charter market with Evelop Air returning and Balkan
Holidays, Corendon, Denim, Enter Air, Germania and Travel Service all  operating flights during the main
summer season while Freebird again returned during the off season operating  flights to Turkey

The improving economic and market conditions also saw Monarch lease in Jettime Boeing 737-7Q8
OY-JTY to provide extra capacity at BHX for the summer season while Thomas Cook based Smartlynx
Airbus A320-214 YL-LCL at BHX in addition to their usual fleet

The ad hoc charter business was boosted by the basing of Danish Air Transport M83 OY-RUE
at the airport of the summer to operate the weekly flights to Hannover and Paderborn....

.... it was soon joined by Cello's new Boeing 737-476 G-RAJG which then spent the peak season
flying from Amsterdam and Brussels on behalf of the "World of TUI"

.... while GainJet Boeing 757-23N SX-RFA moved over from Coventry to be based at BHX

Other airlines visiting on ad hoc and student charters included Adria, Air Contractors, Air Europa,
AirExplore, Air Nostrum, Alitalia, Avanti Air, BA Cityflyer, CSA Czech Airlines, Blue Air, Bulgarian
Air Charter, Carpatair, CityJet, Denim, Enter Air, HOP, Jet2, Mistral Air, Neos, Niki, Royal Wings,
Small Planet, Smartlynx, Titan, Transavia, Travel Service/Smart Wings....

.... with Volotea using Boeing 717s on several charter flights while Monarch also used Neos
and Privilege Style to operate sub charters

We don't normally see much airliner crew training at BHX but that changed with flybe acquiring
a new fleet of ATR 72-212As to be operated on behalf of SAS from Stockholm with G-FBXA and
G-FBXB both making numerous visits during October 2015

It was a good year for special colour schemes - Aer Lingus painted two Airbus A320-214s - EI-DEI
and EI-DEO - in "Irish Rugby" colours, Austrian had a "Eurovision" Airbus A320, Icelandair had a
Boeing 757 in Aurora Borealis/Northern Lights colours and the year finished with....

.... flybe painting Embraer 195 G-FBEM in their "purple" colours and a Cancer Research UK logo scheme

We always say goodbye to a number of airlines/operators with bmi regional ending their daily
scheduled service to Gothenburg on Friday 27 March 2015 -  they continue to visit operating
charters - while Lufthansa Group rebranded Germanwings as Eurowings following the circumstances
surrounding the crash of their flight 4U 9525 in the French Alps on Tuesday 24 March 2015

Freighters continued to visit in all shapes and sizes - star heavy freighters were Silk Way Airlines
Ilyushin Il 76TD 4K-AZ100 on Friday 3 July 2015 and MNG Cargo Airbus A3004C-605R TC-MCA
on Saturday 21 November 2015 while Star Air/UPS Boeing 767-204ERs again made several
nocturnal visits to the Elmdon apron due to the overnight runway closures at East Midlands

Antonovs again proved popular! - for an airport that has seen a lot Russian aircraft in recent years
there were no less than 12 first visiting Antonovs freighters including an Antonov 74 on Thursday
2 July 2015 when a French port dispute was causing significant problems hence the Ilyushin Il 76
the following day - including the three aircraft that visited on passenger flights a total of 16 Soviet
era Russian aircraft made their first visits to BHX in 2015 -

LZ-FLL Antonov 26B of Bright Flight on Thursday 29 January 2015 - previously visited as HA-TCV
EW-378TG Antonov 26B of Grodno Aviakompania/Vulkan Air on Saturday 31 January 2015
RA-26086 Antonov 26B of Pskovavia on Monday 30 March 2015
LZ-FLA Antonov 26B of Bright Flight on Monday 6 April 2015 - previously visited as LY-APN
UR-CGX Antonov 12BP of Shovkoviy Shlyah Airlines on Sunday 3 May 2015
UR-CNN Antonov 12BK of Cavok Air on Tuesday 30 June 2015 - previously visited as EW-394TI
UR-CKC Antonov 74TK-100 of Cavok Air on Thursday 2 July 2015
4K-AZ100 Ilyushin Il 76TD of Silk Way Airlines on Friday 3 July 2015
OM-BYO Tupolev 154M of Slovak Republic on Friday 4 September 2015 - previously visited at OK-BYO
EW-338TI Antonov 12BP of Ruby Star on Wednesday 30 September 2015
UR-KDM Antonov 12BK of Cavok Air on Tuesday 5 October 2015
RA-26142 Antonov 26B of Pskovavia on Monday 16 November 2015
407 Antonov 26 of Hungarian Air Force on Friday 27 November 2015
603 Antonov 26 of Hungarian Air Force on Friday 27 November 2015
UR-CNT Antonov 12BK of Ukraine Air Alliance on Monday 30 November 2015
EW-278TG Antonov 26B of Grodno Aviakompania/Vulkan Air on Monday 21 December 2015

The following Antonov 12 and 26s that had visited BHX in previous years returned in 2015 -

                         UR-CJN, UR-CKL, UR-CKM, UR-CZZ

Antonov 26s - LZ-ABR, YL-RAB, YL-RAC

In total in 2015 BHX was visited by 16 different Antonov 12s, 11 Antonov 26s, 1 Antonov 74,
1 Ilyushin Il76 and 1 Tupolev 154 - a total of 30 different Soviet era Russian aircraft in the year

Dorniers, Metros, Saabs, Twin Otters, ATRs, West Atlantic ATPs and other smaller aircraft including
a number of biz jets were again regular visitors operating priority freight charter flights

It has been another good year for diversions - the weather just gets wilder! - with the evening of
Sunday 1 November 2015 when much of southern England was under a blanketed of thick fog
seeing over 20 diversions including Air India Boeing 777-337ER VT-ALU and Citywing Let 410 OK-RDA
- the visibility the next day was not much better which made it hard to see colourful La Compagnie
Boeing 757-204 F-HCIE which diverted in from Luton as the other aircraft started to depart. Other
notable airliner diversions during the year included Finnair Embraer 190LR OH-LKK on Thursday
29 January 2015 and Qatar Airbus A330-202 A7-ACJ on Monday 30 March 2015

It was also a good year for delivery/transit flights - star visitors were a total of 4 Royal New Zealand
Air Force Beechcraft T-6C Texans on their delivery flights from the US - two arriving to night stop on
Monday 2 February 2015 followed by a further two on Monday 30 March 2015....

.... the year also saw the return of the Royal Flying Doctor Service (of Australia) with King Air VH-FDN
arriving on delivery on Friday 13 March 2015 followed by King Air VH-FDF on Saturday 12 September 2015.
Turkmenistan had a number of transit flights including Boeing 717-22K EZ-A106 Thursday 1 October 2015

Monarch Aircraft Engineering have had another interesting year although much of their efforts were directed
at their own fleet with first the disposal of their remaining Boeing 757-2T7s - G-MONK their last 757 finally
departed BHX to Durham Tees Valley on Saturday 4 April 2015 for parting out....

 .... two recently acquired Airbus A320-214s - G-ZBAA and G-ZBAB - were disposed of to Frontier leaving BHX
in their basic scheme but unfortunately lacking any animal images on the tail while the second half of the year

.... saw attention move to their out of service Airbus A330-243s with G-SMAN departing in flynas colours

Other visitors to the hangar included TCS Expeditions Boeing 757-2K2 G-TCSX which finally departed after
an extended stay on Sunday 22 March 2015, West Atlantic Boeing 767-232SF SE-RLA/N747AX and DHL Air
Boeing 767-3JHFs G-DHLE and G-DHLF while Airbus A319-115CJ G-NMAK which has been under their care
since July 2014 spent the whole year at BHX but at least it did manage two short test flights

There was again a steady flow of biz jet movements many with exotic colour schemes or registrations
including Global 5000 A7-CEV (a diversion), Learjet C-GTDM, Galaxy LZ-FIB, Gulfstream N173PA,
Falcon OY-SWO, Falcon RP-C9018, Republic of Turkey Gulfstream TC-GAP and Beechjet TC-STA....

.... while the arrival of Honda HA-420 HondaJet N420HA on Monday 25 May 2015
saw the first visit of a new type to visit BHX

Larger biz jet movements included Slovak Government Tupolev 154M OM-BYO on Friday 4 September 2015
together with several visits by Boeing 737-73T BBJ N500LS supported by Sikorsky S92 G-LAWX....

.... while falling into a whole new category were the visits by Honeywell Flight Test Boeing 757-225 N757HW
which arrived for its first extended stay on Saturday 30 May 2015 performing a number of test flights over the
North Sea while it was based before leaving on a European tour including a visit to the Paris Air Show returning
twice later in the summer to be based again for further test flights

.... general aviation visitors were many and varied included Extra EA-500 D-FBRS

.... while helicopters included Homeserve Bell 429 M-HRPN which made its first visit on Friday 17 July 2015

Military movements always produce something a little different with the star this year being the arrival of
Kuwait Air Force Boeing C-17A Globemaster III KAF 342 on Friday 24 April 2015....

.... while other notable movements included two visits by Czech Air Force Casa C-295M 0454 - the first
on Wednesday 26 August 2015 - two Hungarian Air Force Antonov 26s on Friday 27 November 2015 for
a weekend stay while bringing in participants for the "Birmingham Tattoo" with visits by French Air Force
Airbus A310-304 F-RADA and Airbus A340-211 F-RAJB and two training flights by French Navy Falcon 10MER

Unfortunately BHX continued to receive visits - albeit much reduced now that UK forces have withdrawn from
Afghanistan - of RAF medevac flights carrying injured service personnel on their way to the Royal Centre for
Defence Medicine at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham

No flypasts by historic aircraft this year but RAF "AWACS" Boeing E-3D Sentry ZH104 AEW1 made
a low approach and go around to Runway 33 on Wednesday 15 April 2015 while....

.... Royal Navy Agusta Westland Merlin HC3 ZJ125 made a similar approach on Wednesday 27 October 2015

After the completion of the major development programme in recent years - the runway extension,
new ATC Tower etc - no new infrastructure this year but (the old) Hangar 1 was demolished which
has done wonders for the view of the Elmdon apron and airfield generally

An unusual visitor in December was the fuselage of Boeing 737-405 N858WL which arrived from
Bruntingthorpe on the back of a low loader to take part in the Emergency Planning exercise - it
was a one time BHX regular with KLM as PH-BDW

National Police Air Service Eurocopter EC 135 P2+ G-POLA is based on the Elmdon apron
and is seen here coming into land with Vueling Airbus A320-232 EC-LVT taking off behind
it - needless to say they are not as close to each other as it looks!

So the year ends on a high with passenger numbers continuing to break all  records and the prospects
for 2016 look excellent with lots more new airlines, routes, services and upgrades already announced....

.... Easter Sunday 27 March 2016 will be a "big" day for the airport as it will see Emirates introduce
the Airbus A380 "super jumbo" on their daily lunch time service to Dubai while on the same day
Qatar Airways launch a 8 times weekly Boeing 787-8 "dreamliner" service to Doha and Iberia Express
launch a 4 times weekly Airbus A320 service to Madrid

Blue Air commence a twice weekly Boeing 737 service to Bucharest on Tuesday 29 March 2016
followed on Friday 22 April 2016 with Czech Airlines launching a 5 times weekly Airbus A319
service to Prague with extra flights and routes by Aer Lingus, flybe, Icelandair, KLM, Monarch,
Norwegian, Ryanair, SAS, Turkish Airlines, Vueling and Wizz also starting in the coming months
- there are also good prospects of more developments to come in the New Year including further
flights from China!

I am sure that 2016 is going to be another interesting year with plenty of
new aircraft and airlines continuing to visit Birmingham Airport!

To see a larger image of any of the photos above just "click" on them

Happy New Year!!

Gordon Stretch
Birmingham Airport Photo Blog

Thursday 31 December 2015


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