The Brits are coming already

Last weekend saw several incoming flights from the UK which were either charter or regular services which were not scheduled until January.

It is probably related to the ski season: last Saturday, 11 December, saw several easyJet flights which were in the official schedules as only supposed to be starting next year (on Saturday 1 January). The UK towns served were Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool, London Gatwick, London Stansted and Newcastle.

Then, the day after (Sunday 12 December), we had what look like charter flights of Flybe and Monarch Airlines. My guess is that they were charter because the airport flight indication system only listed the arrivals, not the departures. Logically, this would be because for the first flights of the ski season there is no-one to take back, but I was nonetheless surprised by this lack of return flight information.

Flybe does do regular services to and from Geneva from a few rather more unusual UK places: Exeter, the Isle of Man, Jersey and Southampton. They use the same type of aircraft as FlyBaboo (De Havilland Dash-8 and Embraer E190), and were considered as a likely airline to take over FlyBaboo. This month their flotation on the UK stock exchange was quite a success. However, their chief executive, Jim French, has been criticised for not (yet) having paid back an interest-free unsecured loan that he took from the company back in 2005, and Flybe itself could be facing strike action by its pilots.

Monarch Airlines ran 4 flights into Geneva on the Sunday, though I have not yet found out from where these flights came. Three of these were nice modern Airbus A321, bigger than the very common A319 and A320 that we see so often. However, the other one was a rather old (built in 1989) Airbus A306, which is in the Swiss noise class III (worst class is I, best class is V) and has the evocative registration G-MONR.

Interestingly, of nearly 90 visits by A306 aircraft this year, all except those of Monarch (yes, it has others!) have been from the region of North Africa and the Middle East (Egypt, Iran, Kuwait, Tunisia and Turkey). 2009 was similar, though with a few more flights.

This does raise a worry that charters are sometiimes rather old and noisy aircraft!

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