TRIP REPORT: Egypt to Ukraine via Eilat

TRIP REPORT


Submitted by Aэrologic

This is about a trip taking place back in January. After a freezing December in Ukraine I decided to go to Egypt on a month trip. I flew both ways via Israel (Eilat) since it was both more convenient and significantly cheaper than via Egyptian airports used mostly by charter flights.



Gulf of Aqaba and Saudi Arabian mountains in the background

Ever since a number of European carriers has opened flights to the Southern Israeli resort, including Wizz Air, Ryanair and Ukraine International, a move suggested to Air Serbia at the time in order to complement their TLV service. That among many other ideas that other airlines successfully implemented have never been applied by Air Serbia, making it loose ground each year more and more versus the likes of Aegean, LOT and more recently even Tarom: RO recently announced Amman, Odessa, Tbilisi and Yerevan.

UIA B737-800 on final to Sharm-el Sheikh from Odessa

It will never get into mine or any sane persons head how an European airline hopes to be profitable while being challenged on all its O&D destinations by low-cost airlines and will be so even more in the future whilst not developing its transfer traffic beyond the immediate region (and that mostly Ex-Yu with the exception of Sofia and Bucharest) despite its highly favorable geographical location. Enough of Air Serbia bashing, back to the trip report.



Public transport in Sinai from Sharm-El Skeihk to the Israeli border being virtually non-existent it took a mix of taxis, trucks and hitchhiking to reach Eilat.


Landscapes are beautiful, almost from another planet. Temperatures here can reach more than 50 degrees in summer while still being much more pleasant than half-way temperatures in Europe due to the absence of humidity. The Sinai peninsula is a great diving spot, a spiritual retreat and boasts many natural and historical wonders such as the St. Catherine Orthodox monastery on Mount Sinai.


Unfortunately, in the last 4 years, Egypt has gone backwards 15 years since the counter-revolution and that is apparent on all levels of service etc. Hotels are mostly empty, huge hotels such as Sofitel might have no more than a few guests. Internet is scarcely accessible even in high-end hotels, Egypt having one of the slowest internet speeds in the world. During my stay Egypt applied a sales tax that immediately raised the price of all goods and services by 40%.

Visitors coming to Egypt from Israel need to pay a $30 exit-fee at the border. That didn't apply to me since I already came in. After an uneventful check at the border, I reached Eilat in around 15 minutes by bus.

The flight I was going to take next morning was Eilat - Poznan on Ryanair. As I was starting to get to the airport, the sky got literally covered by a grey layer completely obstructing the sky. As we were approaching the airport, it was getting worse. The airport was getting filled with sand and electricity failed twice meaning check-in was done manually.

Dust storm in Eilat



No flights were allowed to land and it was uncertain whether we'd be able to depart. It was a sand storm.


As we entered the plane, it was shaking violently. All incoming flights were diverted to Tel Aviv. The shaking relatively subdued as we aligned with the runway i.e into the wind's direction. Here's the take-off video:


The airport was invisible moments after take-off

The flight was mostly full with Polish travellers. From what I understood, Ryanair experiences good but variable loads on the route. The airport became invisible seconds after take-off and the flight was followed by lots of turbulence.

Poznan airport

We landed in Poznan in the evening after about 5 hours of uneventful flight. I took a weekend in Poznan to explore the city.

The next flight was taking me from Bydgoszcz (one hour away) to Lvov in Ukraine. Both Poznan and Bydgoszcz airport are fairly new and renovated and a lot more pleasant than Chopin Airport which is steel-glass and totally uninspiring (basically a larger version of BEG and not much larger as one would expect).

Bydgoszcz Airport



Our flight from Bydgoszcz was departing early in the morning at 3AM on board LOT's Q400. The aircraft is comfortable and offers ample legroom. After an interesting takeoff , as is always the case with turboprop aircraft, we vanished into the dark winter sky.

The complimentary service aboard LOT

On approach at Lvov (LWO) there seemed to be an issue as we circled the city for about half-an hour. The cabin crew seemed panicked and rather nervous. We landed uneventfully however the plane remained on the ground for 24 hours in Lvov before being ferried to Warsaw. Two days later the plane (SP-EQG) suffered a mechanical malfunction at WAW airport resulting it landing without the nose-gear extended.

LOT DH8D in Warsaw, nose gear did not extend on landing, the aircraft hasn’t resumed service since

LWO airport arrivals

Comments

  1. U Dash8 ne sedati nikako ako ne zelis da probas sletanje bez tocka. Kako tom avionu ne zabrane da leti?

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    Replies
    1. Very strange little plane. Took it once from Rome to Dubrovnik. Seems less comfortable than ATR.

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    2. Total nonsense. I've been flying with Dash8 over the last 10 years several times a month between PRG and VIE and never experienced a problem. Plane is more comfortable than ATR and quite reliable.

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    3. That's why BT retired their entire fleet.

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    4. Nope. They are retiring anything but C Series planes in order to get a uniformed fleet.

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    5. Wrong. They retired their own fleet after a similar accident.

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  2. Dear Aэrologic thank you for unusual report. What a take off from Eilat and then lending at LWO! How much did you pay for these segments in winter time and what was the LF?
    P.S. A bit of JU bashing is always good, they deserve it. We want them to get back on the right track.

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    Replies
    1. I have seen often flights from Poland, Germany or Belgium to Eilat from as little as 10 EUR!

      I had thought to go to Eilat even for a short weekend but:

      - Hotels in Eilat are extremely extremely expensive (and Israel is quite an expensive country by itself).

      - Crossing to Egypt or Jordan (and back) from/to Israel can be a bit of a pain. If I am holiday don't want to stress about that stuff.

      - Heard Ovda Airport is a dreadful place, completely inadequate for flights. They should open a new airport this year or in 2019 (Eilat Ramon Airport) which should improve the situation.

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  3. Interesting and thx for sharing... To be honest I was expecting some reports from u.

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  4. Very cool and unusual report. Greets from Sof.
    Lets see how the flights to Jordan will perform this winter.

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  5. Your answers:

    - The airport is basically a shack. It was getting filled with sand as the storm was progressing.

    - I flew in from Warsaw. The LF was about 65%. OVD-POZ was 75-80%. BGZ-LWO was about 50%.

    - The Ryanair flight was, let's say, real cheap. But you have to take into account the 30$ border fee if going into Egypt. The BGZ-LWO segment was about 50$, a newly opened route.

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