SIX OF THE BIGGEST: EURO 'FLAG CARRIER' WIDE-BODIES AT NEWCASTLE AIRPORT
published in Air NORTH Vol.54 No.12 December 2014

August's star visitor, the LOT Boeing 787-8, prompted the obligatory statistic in that month's 'Touchdown' published in the October issue, highlighting the aircraft as only the seventh 'wide-bodied' airliner type, from a non-UK, european 'flag carrier' airline, to visit Newcastle Airport. In the weeks following the issue's publication, the six aircraft were featured as the 'headline', background photograph on the new Air NORTH web site (with corresponding advertising 'teasers' tweeted on the Air NORTH twitter feed) - just as other historic moments in our airport's past had been highlighted via the same media (examples being a previous, arguably more interesting LOT visitor, and our first Antonov An-12). For those who missed these 'six of the biggest' on the web/twitter, here they are in all their nostalgic glory, all interestingly involving Airbus variants.

During the summer of 1982 Olympic Airways operated a weekly Corfu charter rotation on Monday afternoons with their Boeing 707 fleet - on Monday 27th September SX-DBC went u/s after arrival at 1055hrs, and in an unusual move to 'rescue' the outbound flight to Corfu, the carrier re-routed their Airbus A.300 operating the London-Heathrow-Athens flight ('OA260'), to Newcastle, SX-BEE landing with us at 1512hrs as OA2601, and becoming the first ever Airbus to land here, the aeroplane subsequently departing to Athens (the 707 night-stopped and departed to Athens on the morning of Tuesday 28th as OA2649 Out0913). Our very first Airbus was broken up at Greenwood, Missouri during May 2000. (Photo: Ian MacFarlane)

Newcastle Airport's first Airbus A.330 came courtesy of a European 'flag carrier during 1994, the -300 variant EI-DUB of Aer Lingus making two landings on Thursday 19th May, the aeroplane operating a local pleasure flight for travel agents and airport staff, publicizing the re-scheduling of the carrier's Dublin scheduled service in order to provide a more convenient connection from Newcastle through Dublin to the USA. Landing from Dublin at 1019hrs as EIN992, the aircraft departed on its local flight at 1131hrs, returning at 1244hrs, and then finally departing back to Dublin as EIN995 at 1345hrs. The type was also planned to operate the Dublin schedule itself later in the month on the 29th, although this failed to materialise - we were however subsequently to see another Aer Lingus A.330 here, EI-ORD visiting in connection with Niall Quinn's testimonial at the Stadium of Light on Tuesday 14th May 2002 (f/t Dublin - EIN4306 In1700 EIN4307 Out0033/15th). The two aircraft remain the two oldest A.330 airframes to visit Newcastle Airport, and only two of eight examples of the -300 variant to appear here. EI-DUB is still active, looking rather special in the Shaheen Air colour-scheme as AP-BKL, but EI-ORD met the same fate, at the very same location as our very first Airbus, during 2012. (Photo: Andy Hutchings)

The second Airbus A.300 to land at Newcastle Airport came at the beginning of the 1984 summer season, a substantial Aviaco charter programme that year including a Saturday late afternoon Palma rotation flown by the six-strong Iberia A.300 fleet - EC-DLH operated the first flight on 5th May. The flight provided excellent variety and all six of the carrier's A.300s had visited at least once by the end of June - regular sights at Heathrow, but for enthusiasts of a certain generation, seeing them at Newcastle on often balmy summer Saturday evenings was certainly memorable; the summer of 1984 was after all when our foreign charter programmes got really interesting, the Iberia A.300s often being on the ground alongside two JAT Boeing 727s! The 'AO1074/5' returned during 1985 also, but had been re-designated 'AO1110/1' for the last summer of Iberia A.300 'op' at Newcastle Airport during 1986. The six aircraft were (1984/5/6 visit totals in brackets) - EC-DLE (3/2/3), EC-DLF (4/5/4), EC-DLG (8/3/5), EC-DLH (4/1/3), EC-DNQ (5/3/8) & EC-DNR (2/9/3), five of which are surprisingly still extant, and in storage at Valencia (excluding EC-DLE which was b/u at Madrid in 1999). Our photo above shows EC-DNQ just about to taxy on just one of those memorable summer evenings on 22nd July 1986. (Photo: Andy Hutchings)

The spring of 1987 was a particularly good time for the KLM Amsterdam scheduled service - the new Boeing 737-300 fleet had just taken over full-time from the DC-9s during March, while high passenger loads on the 'KL161/2' on two occasions during April saw the carrier substitute the 737 with Airbus A.310s, PH-AGB on Friday 10th, and PH-AGG, shown above, on Monday 20th. PH-AGF followed on an additional 'KL1612/1622' rotation on Thursday 2nd July, Boeing 737-300 PH-BDH flying the '161/2' on that day. All three of our KLM A.310s ended their lives as freighters flying for FedEx. (Photo: Andy Hutchings)

The most numerous visitors from the list of six euro, 'flag carrier', wide-bodies to appear at Newcastle Airport were the four Cyprus Airways Airbus A.310s which were regular features of our charter programmes, both winter and summer, between 1986 and 1991 - November 1985 saw the introduction of the type on the carrier's charters to Paphos and Larnaca, replacing the Boeing 707s, and all three of the initial trio of aircraft first-visited during this first month, wearing the first iteration of the carrier's A.310 livery as shown above on 5B-DAS photographed on 17th March 1986. The fourth machine 5B-DAX first-visited during May 1989 already in the carrier's new livery. The first three machines have all now been broken up, while 'AX is also likely to have been too, having been stored in the USA since 2010 after a period of service with S7 Airlines. (Photo: Andy Hutchings)

(Next page) The final member of the 'big six' was yet another Airbus A.310, TC-JCV of Turkish Airlines which visited on the morning of Thursday 3rd April 2003 to collect both the senior and under-21 Turkish national football teams after their respective 'Euro 2004' qualifiers against England at our two local football grounds, the two teams having earlier arrived separately on two different THY Boeing 737-800s. The aeroplane was converted into a freighter for Turkish Airlines in 2007, but was then damaged beyond economic repair after veering off the runway upon landing at Casablanca on 31st October 2010. (Photo: Andy Hutchings)

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