As in "This was an ephemeral point-to-point route."
In fact, last October 2, 2017, JetSmart was announcing its new CCP > PMC route on their Facebook account, connecting both cities directly for the first time ever!
But the following year Puerto Montt is no longer listed among the destinations for flights from Concepción. Not even for the high season. Boo - hoo. :(
There's always the bus, but it's a 9-hour ride!
As explained in my previous report, point-to point routes within my country are seldom profitable for airlines. JetSmart is the airline that has been exploring these routes more intensively, turning Concepción into their second most important hub after SCL.
I wonder if this decision has something to do with the current economical situation in Argentina. The usual swarms of Argentines invading the Chilean beaches and shopping centers every summer might not show up the next season. Hence the need to foster domestic tourism.
Whatever the case, I just could not miss the opportunity to add this route to my log!
So, welcome to the last leg of my 2018 summer holidays, on which has now become a historical flight! XD
This is flight 9 of 9 in this series. The reports for flights 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 are also available.
Cheesy bonus - Concepción from a hill
Having just arrived from Antofagasta, an Uber takes me for little more than 7 USD (the same price of a transfer van)…
…all the way across Concepción…
…to the foot of Caracol Hill, a park from where you get nice views of the city.
Too bad that you have to go… up. Of course. It's a hill. But this cheese in my backpack is making my life miserable.
I pant my way to the first lookout.
The last time I came to this hill was in the early 90s. The city has changed a lot! Apartment buildings are popping up everywhere.
The roar of plane engines makes me look up. Who goes there?
I got off CC-AWA only minutes ago.
That building center left would be the Centro Plaza.
One thing that I learned today is that roads don't look as steep in photographs as they are in real life!
River Bío Bío can be seen from the next lookout.
Building high rises is quite expensive in a seismic country like Chile. See that building under construction over there? No bricks, but only reinforced concrete. That's why I feel my legs shake when I see how they build in other countries.
I was planning to get to the top of the hill, but I won't make it with this load on my back. Let's go back.
Besides, it's lunchtime, and I don't wan't to get to the airport in a hurry.
Back at CCP
After a relaxing stroll and lunch in Concepción, it's time to head to the airport.
No buses to the airport. You have to take a taxi…
…a transfer service, or, as in my case, call an Uber…
…which will take you there in less than five minutes…
…since CCP is within the urban area.
It's like going to the supermarket!
As a fun fact I can mention that CCP is located in an area called Talcahuano…
…which, along with other towns, make up a single urban area. People in Talchuano complain that CCP shouldn't be called "Concepción airport".
Whatever the case, CCP's real name is…
On this end of the terminal is the arrivals area, evidently.
The check-in counters are on the other end. Let's go there just for reporting purposes.
This is new. Information kiosks. We'll see more of them airside.
The information desk was there the last time…
…but not these games.
The last three flights of the day. Dominated by JetSmart.
The center of the hall.
An exhibition of some kind (like the Chinchorro mummies at ARI) would fit very well in this space. For the moment they have some pictures…
…an ATM, and a training center…
…for future pilots.
You can also charge your devices here.
Not much action around at the moment. The longest queue is the one to pay the parking at the caja (checkout)
Defunct LAW still has its desks here. By the time I took this photo they had cancelled all domestic flights one moth before. They're just wasting electricity.
Security check is upstairs. Let's go there.
Right. A cafeteria.
Promoting our very humble, microscopic version of Iguazú falls: Saltos del Laja. A nice picture here.
The offices of Acciona, the Spanish company in charge of JetSmart's airport servicing.
Just next is an unexpected exhibition by kindergarten artists…
…emulating the style of some renown heavyweights like van Gogh…
…(this kid has talent, doesn't he?)…
…or Vasili Kandinski.
From there to security check. The staff look almost surprised to see me there on my own. I ask akwardly "Is it… OK… if I…. now?" "Of course!" they say, showing me through the metal detector. So I'm airside in about 20 seconds!
Er… hello? Am I a bit too early?
Well, I could swear that somebody was there ten seconds ago!
Where did everyone go??!!
Then it dawns on me: My Christian Protestant uncle was right, and everybody was suddenly taken to heaven but me because I'm an unrepentant sinner! Woo - hoo!!! Alone a last!! Let's have a look around MY new airport…
…starting with the VIP lounge, but only from outside in case some VIP sinner has been left behind, too.
Wooow! Literally everybody went to heaven!
They must be very happy up there, because the food was not precisely heavenly down here. Peaches, oranges and cheap cheese sandwiches for VIP passengers?! And PLASTIC cutlery??? The Bible was right. The end is nigh!
And Windows Vista??!! I repent! I repent!! I'll become straight but please take me out of this hell!!!
But God won't hear my prayer. I'll stay alone in this airport forever. I shouldn't have seen Jason Statham in Megalodon to start with. That was my spiritual ruin. Let's see what else there's to be seen in this lonely airport.
Art! Art always soothes my spirit.
Tears run down my cheeks. Is it my repentance or this eye-watering price tag? (400,000 CLP = 580 USD)
But, if dragging a heavy goat cheese along the waiting room is not enough punishment, then what is??
I wonder if the new FIDS can help me see the truth.
16:18. Hm. That might explain the absence of life around here. The Sky flight to Santiago should leave any moment from now (it's almost 30 minutes late already) and the next flight (my flight) won't leave until 18:54.
So, I was not left alone in this world by divine intervention?! Damn. Another religious disappointment. >:(
But let's look at the bright side of it. This will give me time for some in-depth air travel research… like measuring my luggage!
Great! My backpack fits perfectly into the bolso de mano (hand bag) category. A few centimeters more and I would have to pay, even if I carry it in the cabin.
I will also be able to practice what I've called the "CCP Waltz".
It's not the usual 1, 2, 3 - 1, 2, 3, but 3, 1, 2, 2, 1, 3, 2, 3, 1…
Planespotting is not precisely a thrill around here…
…but you can still see the ocassional Cessna…
..or a domestic flight departing more than 30 minutes late.
An Air Tractor AT-802 (thanks to Marathon for the hint)
Photographing it was a real challenge. It kept going and coming very swiftly, and landed several times.
17:25. My plane is just leaving SCL. It should be at CCP in about 40 minutes.
In the meantime, here's a mystery I MUST solve: In my last visit to CCP I was left scratching my head at the sight of these colorful plastic artifacts, so I now ask someone at the nearby cafeteria about them.
I'm told that they are literature displays or stands. The Catholic church planned to offer their publications to travellers. They brought the stands… but never came back! The stands have been here, unused, for months!
But you will find toilet paper here. The restrooms are well equipped…
…and look and smell nice and clean.
On this end of the terminal, above arrivals, is the only cafeteria, in case you want something more than cold cheese sandwiches from the VIP lounge. It also happens to be the international boarding section, though I'm not aware of international commercial flights departing from or arriving at CCP.
Let's take a closer look at the new information kiosks, here called by the name "tótem." A totem is something slightly different for me, but… whatever.
The software still needs some work. It doesn't fit the screen size by default.
Once you enlarge or shrink the image to the appropiate size, you can access basic information about airport's services…
…like car rental, for example. Pretty simple and unpretentious.
Very enlightening information from the national aviation authority (DGAC): Who's in charge of what in a concessioned airport like this. The DGAC is in charge of… - Inspectic baggage and passengers - Detecting explosives - Inspecting cargo - Control tower - Emergency rescue and fire brigade - Personnel certification
The concession's holder is in charge of… - Parking and jetbridges - Shops, restaurats and cafeterias - Other sevices like taxis, etc.
First signs of action out there, in preparation for the arrival of our plane.
Some detailed shots for the towbar-addicts among you.
No idea what those people might be doing. Taking measurements, perhaps?
And there it comes.
CC-AWE is brand new!
Its first flight was on December 6, 2017…
…so by the time of this flight it's barely two months and four days old!
It has a seagull on it's tail, so it was baptized Gaviota Austral (Leucophaeus scoresbii, aka dolphin gull)
The kids from Acciona begin their coordinated ballet…
…with admirable efficiency.
Inside, our group is already in the ramp waiting for the incoming passengers to deboard.
I will take my place, too.
Gaviota Austral from the jetbridge.
As you see here…
…there's a considerable group boarding this flight.
I wouldn't say the plane is empty. So I wonder why JetSmart dropped this route so quickly. It was not always like today, perhaps? Whatever. I really hope the reduced boarding fees will help somehow.
In spite of the 186-seat high density cabin, the space between seats is OK for me. I think that the thin seats and the minuscule tray tables make it possible.
The two guys in front of me are absorbed in Pokemon hunting and boast their monster collection. Some people never grow up! (BTW, where did I leave my toy plane…?)
Some additional information about this flight.
We're escorted for some meters during pushback…
…and once we are left on our own…
…the staff stays there, waving at us! Look at them!
Aren't they the very personification of pride? Thanks, guys. Good job!
…past the control tower.
There goes the hyperkinetic Air Tractor again!
A relatively short taxi and we're all set to depart…
…with a view to the local freaky artifact, I have seen one in every Chilean airport.
I bet it's still in use. Otherwise why the stairs!
With no further delay, off we go.
CCP in sight.
That road marks the limit between Concepción and Talcahuano, but…
…they make up a single city, as you see.
Banking a little to the south-east…
…above Lo Méndez lagoon and the intersection of Alonso de Ribera and Paicaví avenues…
…towards downtown Concepción.
Center left, Las Tres Pascualas lagoon. Weird name, isn't it? Well, legend has it that three sisters used to do laundry in this lagoon.
One day they met a stranger and the three of them fell in love with him.
He thought "Why pick one cherry when you can have the whole tree?" But each sister, unwilling to share his love with the other two, walked into the lagoon and drowned. I wonder if the three were called Pascuala, because the name of the lagoon means The Three Pascualas.
This is the center of the city…
…and the forested area is Caracol hill…
…the hill that I climbed for the tourism bonus above.
The city stretches southwards between the hills and river Bío Bío…
…which used to be navigable until deforestation…
…caused its bed to get filled with sediment.
Chiguayante is the last town we see…
…as we climb south above this area of intense agricultural activity…
…and forestry industries.
Nacimiento, for example, is a town whose economy depends almost exclusively on the forestry industry. Center right is a pulp mill.
It's been several hours from lunch. I have no option but to order one of those minimal muffins again.
The cabin during the flight.
Nueva Imperial, where my roots on my mother's side are.
Lake Calafquén, and Villarrica and Llaima volcanoes.
San José de la Mariquina! We are flying right above my local airport, Pichoy (ZAL)!
The sight of lake Riñihue and Chos-Wenko volcano lets me know that this would be the right moment to take a parachute and jump off. I would land in my backyard!
But I have to continue my way south for other 180km. Paillaco, down there, is where the road from Valdivia meets the Ruta 5 Sur - aka Panamerican Highway - to the south.
Beautiful lake Ranco.
Like many other towns in this area, the economy of Río Bueno - on river Bueno, of course - revolves around the dairy industry.
The Panamerican Highway crossing the river Bueno.
Once I dreamed that I boarded a plane and it started taxiing but never took off. The plane left the airport and travelled by land along a highway! This flight is much like that dream. We are following the Panamerican Highway! There's San Pablo, 100km north of our destination.
Cancura has beautiful surroundings…
…on river Rahue.
A very representative picture of the area: agriculture and cattle farming.
The last kilometers of the flight are very scenic…
…with little towns bordering…
…beautiful lake Llanquihue (which sounds yan-kee-weh)…
…and Osorno volcano as a backdrop.
This area is hugely popular among national tourists. In fact, if you ever visit Chile, the first thing you will be asked when you engage in conversation is "Have you been to the south yet?"
Farms before landing.
The area around Puerto Montt was declared a "natural monument"…
…in order to protect some old alerces, which belong to the same family as the North American sequoias.
Landing gear down.
And we've made it to PMC. Look at that!
I wish my kitchen looked that clean!
We reach the end of the runway…
…and turn right, passing by some military facilities…
…and the local curiosity. Well see more of it in a second.
What a beautiful livery!
That little cutie is a Cessna T206H Turbo Stationair…
…and flew around the globe in 2007! Show some respect!
And this one… well, nothing special, but you'll see a lot of small private aircraft around here, belonging to wealthy people living on the islands south of Puerto Montt, or to some small airlines connecting the isolated towns in Patagonia.
A mysterious white plane.
Arriving at the terminal.
Aha, so Mr. Mystery does have a registration: 9H-LDN, a private Bombardier Global Express.
And here we are.
As for the old yellow plane…
…we are in the presence of respectable granny CC-CBO.
It has a long story that you can find here: Part 1, Part 2. But long story short, this DC-3 was sold to ENAP (a Chilean oil company) after WW2, then ENAP sold it to LanChile (now LATAM) in the early 1960s.
Then in 1974 LanChile sold it to an airline called Aerocor. In 1979 it had an accident and ended up here, at PMC. It was declared abandoned in 2002. Luckily, PMC's Rescuing and Fire Brigade Service was authorized to use CC-CBO as training material. They painted it, and it's been "active" serving as a training plane ever since. A dignified retirement, in my opinion. :)
The time has come to disembark. I think I'm the last one here.
Acciona has already started the boarding process…
…for passengers of the flight back to CCP.
Again, it's such a pity that JetSmart has dropped this route.
Hopefully they will see the oportunity to retake it soon.
As for me, I feel sad that my summer trip has come to an end…
…but at the same time happy to go back home. I'm so tired!!!
I need holidays from my holidays!
A nice day at El Tepual (PMC). More people than usual…
…but finding my bus to the city is as easy as always. There it is.
Just remember to get the ticket before you leave baggage claim!
New series of reports coming soon. This time we'll visit some amazing places around Argentina, including Buenos Aires and the breathtaking Iguazú falls.
Thanks for reading! :)
Concepcion - CCP
Puerto Montt - PMC
A short-lived point-to-point route, CCP > PMC is proof of the challenges that airlines face in my country when it comes to flying between cities other than Santiago.
Nevertheless, JetSmart sticks to its strategy to offer no-frills flights, opening new routes (now international flights between smaller cities in Chile and Argentina!) and the government's decision to reduce airport fees might play a decisive role in making these routes profitable.
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