Monday, October 31, 2011

Monday Morning at Mackay Airport

Just before I left Mackay to return home, I popped into Mackay Airport again, this time on Monday 31 October, and managed to catch some of the commercial traffic to pop into the Airport on a busy weekday.

Alliance Airlines Fokker F-100 aircraft VH-XWM and VH-XWN were at Mackay Airport, operating once again on behalf of QantasLink.

QantasLink Dash-8-Q400 VH-LQG arrived from Townsville as QLK2301, before later continuing to Rockhampton.

Jetstar Airbus A320 VH-VQD arrived as JST882 from Brisbane.

Lastly, Virgin Australia Boeing B737-800 VH-BZG - named "Brett's Jet" in honour of Virgin Australia / Virgin Blue founder Brett Godfrey - arrived as DJ605 from Brisbane.

On the General Aviation side of Mackay Airport, I spotted Australasian Jet Cessna 337 VH-NRE. The unique twin-engined, push-pull aircraft, is usually based in Victoria.

Lastly, Island Air Gippsland Aeronautics (GippsAero) GA-8 Air Van, VH-KIQ, is a new aircraft operating from Mackay Airport flying transfers to nearby Keswick Island.

TRIP REPORT - Whitsunday Coast / Proserpine to Brisbane - Jetstar Airways - Airbus A320

TRIP REPORT – Whitsunday Coast / Proserpine to Brisbane – Sunday 18 September – Jetstar Airways – JQ833 – Airbus A320-200 – VH-VGO.

The Proserpine Airport is undergoing major renovations and only recently had the first stage opened to the public. The carpark is still closed, and passengers are forced to park on the grass leading to the terminal or in bushy areas out in front of the terminal. The carpark works are about half done with asphalt down in most parts and new taxi and bus parking facilities able to be used outside the terminal. There is also a drop off facility available.

Once inside the terminal I was greeted with the new check-in area. This used be the Virgin check-in area with Jetstar at the other end of the building. Now both airlines’ check-in areas are together as shown below.

Bag dropped off and then back outside the terminal - past the construction zone - to the centre area of the terminal where the seemingly new security check-point is located.

Through this to the newly opened sitting area of the revamped terminal. This area is substantially bigger than the last time I travelled through Proserpine. There is plenty of seating, air conditioning and giant ceiling fans (complete with winglets!).

Probably best of all, is that there are large windows which allows the lovely views over the terminal apron to return!

This area is still obviously in need of further work which will hopefully be completed before the year is out.

Another feature is a much larger kiosk as well as a small sitting area with tables and chairs. There presently two gates - one for each carrier - with facilities noted for a third.

Departing passengers pass through the gate out to the tarmac and onto their aircraft.

Jetstar A320 VH-VGO arrived to take us to Brisbane. Disembarking passengers seemingly still exit through the Eastern part of the terminal, with bags following them out about 20 minutes after they touched down. You can read more from my return trip HERE.

My ticket with Jetstar today was a “Saver Plus” ticket which entitled me to earn Qantas Frequent Flyer points, as well as experience priority boarding. The call went out for passengers who “paid for priority boarding” to come to the gate, but by the time I had stood up to walk to the gate, the ‘general’ boarding call was made, and I found myself near the back of the queue! Absolutely no ‘priority’!

Anyway, soon on board and I took my seat 12F which was a window in the exit row. Plenty of legroom here!

Just about a full flight and as our departure time came and went, the front door was finally closed, the engines spooled up, and we taxied away from the terminal about 10 minutes late.

Smooth take off from Runway 11, and with a series of right turns then a left turn, we were heading South towards Brisbane.

Seatbelt sign off, and the crew busily set about sending the food and drink cart down the aisle. I chose the Pringles and a lemonade. Nice!

I noted outside that the smoke haze was pretty bad, and this got worse as we headed South. By the time we started our descent we could hardly see the ground!

Rubbish was cleaned and this gave the cabin crew about 15 of standing at the front the plane not doing much!

Descent was long and smoky outside but eventually we made a series of left turns to line up the Runway 01 ILS approach into Brisbane.

Nice views down the ILS over the Southside of Brisbane, then crossing the Brisbane River, and lastly, the Qantas maintenance hangars on the East side of the Airport.

We touched down a little late, and shortly after we pulled into one of the new gates on the new centre finger - interestingly two QantasLink Dash-8’s were preparing for departure from these gates too – a real “Common-user terminal”!!

The centre finger redevelopment at Brisbane Airport is now complete, with the bar at the middle of the terminal area open for business.

Downstairs through the terminal where after a small wait my bag eventually made it out.

In all another nice flight with Jetstar, although I certainly won't be paying the extra $20 or so for priority boarding when passengers receive about 10 seconds of priority!!

POSTSCRIPT... I made a formal complaint about the 'priority boarding' through their website and much to my surprise received a $25 flight credit voucher for a future flight with Jetstar. My faith in Jetstar has now somewhat been restored!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Some Weekend Spottings From Mackay Airport

I spent a weekend in Mackay for cricket and managed to get to Mackay Airport on Sunday 30 October for a quick look at some interesting aircraft parked around the airport.

As I drove to the Airport on Bridge Road I managed to pull up in time to see Surveillance Australia (Australian Customs Service) Dash-8-Q300 VH-ZZN depart from Runway 14.

On the Western (terminal) side of the Airport was a recent arrival in the form of Cessna 525A Citation CJ2 VH-ZGP. This aircraft has only been in Australia for about a month and is registered in Mackay.

Nearby was Pilatus PC-12/45 VH-YDO.

And a nice pair of Toll Express Metro freighters - VH-UZP (in front in new colours) and VH-UZD (old colours behind).

Elsewhere at the airport was Nixon Communication's Cessna 150 VH-RXJ.

Aeropower's Eurocopter AS.350B2 VH-SHD.

And Aviation Tourism Australia's Bell 430 VH-HIA (with Bell 206 VH-COW behind).

Lastly, Adam P spotted Australian Army Sikorsky S-70A-9 Blackhawk helicopter A25-111 at the Airport on Saturday 29 October and sent through a photo of it on the ground.

Qantas Aircraft Grounding Leaves Central Queensland Largely Unaffected

In an unprecedented move, Qantas has grounded its entire domestic and international fleet of aircraft, and will lock out all staff involved in its industrial dispute from late on Monday 30 October. The move comes in the middle of a bitter dispute between Qantas management and staff, and has left thousands of passengers in Australia and around the world stranded.

Fortunately, travellers to and from all Central Queensland airports - Hamilton Island, Mackay, Whitsunday Coast / Proserpine, Rockhampton, Emerald, Longreach, Barcaldine, Blackall, Moranbah, Gladstone, Biloela / Thangool - will not be affected directly, as QantasLink and Jetstar flights remain largely unchanged.

Qantas has advised its customers not advised to travel to the airport unless they are booked on a QantasLink, or Jetstar, or on certain Australia-New Zealand routes operated by JetConnect.

From the Qantas website: "Qantas is providing a full refund for any flights cancelled due to industrial action. You can cancel your flight with Qantas or rebook for a later date. Customers who purchase a new ticket with an alternative carrier, Qantas will reimburse the difference between the cost of the new ticket (in same cabin of travel) and the value of the refunded Qantas ticket. Qantas is also providing accommodation, meals and transfers for customers who are away from home. You can lodge your claim online."