Trip Reports & Reviews

Flying a FOKKER 50 in 2019! Air Antwerp

Noel

Noel Philips

I flew on a rare Fokker 50 with the newest player in Europe’s airline scene – Air Antwerp.

London City Airport is really compact. It’s situated on an old dock in the centre of the city of London, where space is at a premium There’s never far to walk, but to me it always seems really cramped.

I was looking forward to the usual great views from the departure lounge across the runway – but it looks like the airport have other plans. Where you could once see the runway is now a building site, and it looks like an extention to the terminal building is being built.

Pretty soon my ride to Antwerp was landing. It was built in 1990 and has a long history. Originally delivered to DLT of Germany in 1990, it went to Air Nostrum in Spain in 1995. In 2001 it moved back to Germany with Lufthansa Cityline, before being bought by VLM in 2001. It went to CityJet when VLM went bust in 2016, before going back to the reformed VLM. In 2018, VLM went bust, again, and it went to the Swedish airline Amapola Flyg, before Air Antwerp started operations in 2019.

The corridors of London City Airport always remind me of a hospital. It’s all very clinical.

It was time to head across the apron to the waiting aircraft, which is always a pleasure at London City.

After a couple of seat changes today I took my allocated seat in row 11 for the flight over to Antwerp.

Our route over to Antwerp today took us south into Kent, before crossing the Channel into Belgium, and starting our descent into Antwerp. Flight time today was 52 minutes at a cruising altitude of 17,000ft.

Air Antwerp were formed after the failure of VLM Airlines, twice. The aircraft and crew are all ex-VLM.

We soon started our descent over Belgium down into the city of Antwerp.

My flight today cost me £70, or around $90. For a flight of just 192 miles it works out to a cost per mile of 10 pence.

Air Antwerp were a lovely airline to fly with. The service was excellent and it was a lovely chance to get another ride on a Fokker 50. I do worry about the future of this route though. Air Antwerp seems to have been built largely out of sentimental reasons, from the ashes of VLM. An airline operating just one aging aircraft, with a 3 times daily service between a secondary Belgian city and London, offering a full bar service onboard, and relatively low prices, doesn’t leave me feeling particularly confident about the future. Admittedly this was an afternoon flight, but the loads seemed very low, with just 13 passengers onboard. I’d loved to be proven wrong though, as it is wonderful to be able to get a ride on a Fokker 50 still in 2019.