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Football Flights

As a follow-on to the previous article regarding the Tarom A318 football charter, the story continues………well sort of. More football related travels. This time, a first visit to Dublin Airport by Embraer E-190LR (D-AZFA) of German Airways saw the aircraft depart Cologne Bonn Airport at 11:22 on Tuesday last, arriving at Dublin 1h 34min later. Bohemians FC boarded the aircraft which then departed Dublin for Thessaloniki at 13:57

Image by Tango India - Tom ING

The Dublin club was to play PAOK (Greece) for the second game, this time on the away sides home-turf. The flight to Greece took 3hr 03min with the E-190 departing Thessaloniki the following morning for Pristina, Kosovo.

The matched was played Thursday evening with victory going to PAOK (2 – 0), ending Bohemians progress through the championship. D-AZFA set off from Pristina, Friday morning returning to Thessaloniki to take the Dublin team back home but not before squeezing in another charter, Pristina – Bodo – Pristina.

Bodo, in northern Norway, is a 4hr flight from Pristina, well in range for the E-190LR.

German Airways, is a charter airline based at Cologne Airport with Headquarters in Dusseldorf. Originally starting as LGW and providing services for Air Berlin, in 2017 it became a subsidiary of that airline before being purchased by Lufthansa and becoming a unit within Eurowings. Then in 2019, Zeitfracht Group purchased LGW and in March 2020 was renamed German Airways with new branding and livery.

During the 1990’s and 2000’s LGW operated the Dornier Do-228 turboprop before phasing the type out from 2008 in favour of the Dash 8-Q400, of which up to 20 were acquired. Since 2019 the Dash 8’s have been replaced with Embraer E-190’s of which 4 are currently operational with German Airways.

Image by Alan Jackson

D-AZFA, a 2007 aircraft, first flew with Aero Republica of Colombia as HK-4453 before transferring to Copa Airlines Colombia in 2010 and WDL Aviation in Germany in 2020. Joining German Airways in December 2020, D-AZFA has a capacity for 100 passengers - 12 Business & 88 Economy. The other three E-190’s have also transitioned through the same airlines before joining German Airways.

Leaving a baking hot Greece behind, departing Thessaloniki at 17:32 on Friday the 13th, D-AZFA made its way west-wards across Europe for the 3hr 47min flight to Dublin, arriving at the capital at 19:19. The Embraer barely on the ground for 30 minutes, was on its way once again, lifting off for Cologne just after 8pm.

During the same week, European Championship League brought another football charter to our shores. Dutch side Vitesse Arnhem V’s Dundalk FC at Tallaght Stadium on Thursday evening saw the away team travel one hour by road, across the border into Germany, to catch a flight at Weeze Airport to take them to Dublin. Mitsubishi CRJ-1000 (EI-HBA) of Hibernian Airlines departed the German regional airport at 12 noon arriving into Dublin after a 1hr 28min flight at 12:28

Hibernian Airlines was set up in 2017 and began operations in 2019 once it received it’s Irish AOC. Part of the Air Nostrum Group and based in Dublin, the charter & wet lease operator currently has two CRJ-1000’s flying in an all-over white colour with a third in storage. Originally to be based in the UK but with the Brexit whirlwind ended those plans and Dublin was chosen instead.

Image by Christoph Plank

EI-HBA remained at Dublin Airport until the return flight to Weeze after the game ended 2 – 1 to the Arnhem side on Thursday night. The 100 seat CRJ-1000 departed Dublin at 10:52 Friday morning taking the winning team back to Weeze at 13:00

The highs and lows of football bringing visiting aircraft closer to their enthusiast fan-base means everyone’s a winner……..

Images by Alan Jackson (D-AZFA), Tango India – Tom ING (D-AZFA) & Christoph Plank (EI-HBA)


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