Third New Caledonian "domestic" flight, today's we're heading to Maré one of the Loyauté Islands for a long week-end.
All the routing has been reported on the french counterpart website, after the long inbound journey from France to New Caledonia (near Australia). Small geographic lesson in order to clearly understand the next flight reports…
So as you can see on the map New Caledonia is composed from a big island (roughly 400km long), 3 small islands on the east called "Loyauté" and a famous small island on the south called "Isle of Pines". already presented on previous reports. Today we're leaving the main Island for a long week-end to Maré the Eastern Island of Loyalty.
Also known as "Nengone" it's the less touristic island of the archipelago but believe me it's one of the small preserved paradise hidden on Caledonia's territory. Once again not to many choices to get into this island, you've got the Betico boat twice a week with at least 6 hours of navigation. But also the Air Caledonie ATR's 2 or 3 rotations per day to Nouméa Magenta. Like for Isle of Pines, the lack of competition on this route set the prices to a really high level even for the "discounted" ticket. We've payed around 140€/pax for the return flight, flight time is around 30 minutes one way.
SB800 - Economy - Nouméa (NOU) => Tokyo (NRT) - Airbus A330-900neoComing soon
A new destination for the english database, with the introduction of Maré La Roche airport. But there is plenty of unreported destinations on Air Calédonie network like Koné, Lifou or Ouvéa.
Back to Magenta
Once again, for this small Island hopping the flight will took off from Magenta airfield, is it located near the city center and it's really easy to get there if you have a car, the main issue is to park it. There is a free parking but is stuffed almost all the time… So you need to park on the roadside near the airport.
But with the nice sunny weather and this nice view on the airfield it's really pleasant to walk near the airport. If you want to see more about it and general aviation on New Caledonia have a look at the bonus at the end of the report !
After a few minutes of walk we reach the terminal entry, a bit busy this morning.
Inside the old main building you can find the departure and arrival area, you have also some basic services like an Air Calédonie sells counter, an information desk and an ATM.
On the left side you've got the Air Calédonie check in counters where you can check in to all the flights.
As I telling you there is only domestic flights from Magenta airfield, but it's quite busy especially on Lifou island.
After an express and efficient security crossing, we are free to get on the single boarding area air side. Little travel tip, there is no restriction on the liquid transport in inter-island flights.
Two tourists will pass the checks in hurry to jump on board this ATR 72-600 who's waiting them to leave Nouméa for Ouvéa island. As you can see the view on the traffic is quite good.
The same aircraft during taxi and take-off, maybe you'll remember him it's the same aircraft who's getting us to Isle of Pines few days ago, flight report is here.
Few minutes after, India Papa take off another ATR lands on a roaring sound, is coming from Isle of Pines and we now him also, we were on board three days ago, it's here also.
And another couple of minutes later, it's our aircraft who lands on GEA runway, coming from Lifou.
Another registration for my logbook, today it's F-OZKN an ATR72-600 delivered from Toulouse factory just one and a half year before.
We were close to the boarding time, but no agent was at the door, and not surprisingly a public announcement will inform us that our flight was delayed by 20 minutes due to the late arrival of the plane, for the door display, it is basic with this wooden panel.
For the boading pass it's a modern "shop receipt" style. I don't like them.
We are now ready for boarding, not a long wait before walking into Magenta's tarmac. Priorities for families with young child were respected.
As usual the tail is covered with the Caledonian ridge arrow , a real island symbol that is also the airline logo.
Next to us, our sister-ship start is engines to go to Lifou Island.
Fuselage shoot before climbing by the rear left door, usual for this kind of aircraft.
On board ATR72 with Expliseat cabin.
A nice view also on our left P&W 127-M engine. We were welcome on board by our smiley main purser, he is more than 6,4ft high, not very comfortable when you work on board an ATR…
A bit of change on these Air Calédonie report, the cabin ! Inside F-OZKN and F-OZNO you don't have the usual "Armonia" cabin but the lightweight seat provided by the french manufacturer "Expliseat"
Once again we will be at row #2 but this time on the right side. The first 2 row's can't be used due to aircraft balance.
The same traditional drawings are painted on the bulkhead.
The back of the seat is interesting to see how the engineers works to reduce the number of parts and the weight of the seat. A lot of the parts are in composite material like the tray table. If you look manufacturer data, weight/seat is reduced by 20kg, expected earn could be around 400kg for the complete cabin.
Pitch is pretty good thanks to seat reduced thickness.
The overhead panel is modern with the signals related to electronic devises uses.
View from my seat
With nobody on the first row we've got the extra safety breifing related to exits use as we are the closest to the doors.
As we are reading this extra safety card, engines are started, and our crew perform the safety demonstration. As she start to deploy the front jump seat an huge cockroache fall from the seat structure ! With a real cold blood she took one of is high heels at the hand and crush the stowaway on the cabin floor ! Few seconds later the cabin purser comes from the back with a plastic glove to remove the remains of the insect, looks to be an usual procedure for Air Calédonie crews.
No towing, with this nose out parking and we start our quick taxi time to runway 17.
U turn at the end of the runway to line up.
Then the engines are set to take off thrust, and we are soon flying over the airport buildings and parking's
We are quickly climbing with a nice view on the residential district of Magenta.
After the initial climb we are turning left, to avoid the city of Noumea and take our heading to Maré. What a beautiful view on the city and the Sainte Marie's bay.
The famous mount Ouen Toro is on our right
Even close to Noumea the water is crystal clear !
Bye Nouméa see you in 3 days !
As we are still climbing we flew over Sainte Marie island
Few seconds after the Tamanou islet and is famous floating restaurant.
We are finally facing East after another left turn.
We are starting our main island crossing as you can see it's not really flat.
The green/blue sea water surrounded by ocher sands show's Ué's bay.
A little further you can see Prony's bay one of the famous place to see humpback whales in New Caledonia.
Unfortunately the clouds cover mark the end of this scenic flight.
Inside the cabin it's really quiet.
The engines are working perfectly, it's not so noisy for a turboprop aircraft.
Not many things to see outside, time to have a look on the seat pocket, you can find the usual safety card and Origin'air inflight magazine
Detail of the network and corporate information's introduced inside the magazine.
Part of flight path recorded on flightradar24, in this part of world tracking network is poor.
As we are crossing the coral see, cloud cover start to scatter.
But soon we start to see the island coast between clouds
We are still pretty high to avoid this 2 big cumulus
Then we are performing a U turn to get the approach path to the runway 13.
On your right the small island of Tiga there is no regular flight to this small community.
In order to land on La Roche airfield we are approaching from the North of the island
So we go along the incredible blue seabeds
Wonderful isn't it ?
Another few degree turn is necessary to reach final's path. The sun light is blocked by clouds so the reflection on the sea doens't gives us the same blue colors.
We flew over the second biggest "city" of La Roche it's more like a bush village, the other city is Tadine where is located the harbor.
Few seconds before touch down
Welcome to nengone
Smooth landing on the small runway of La Roche airfield.
Even with a powerful braking we are over-passing the taxiway to the apron.
Not a problem, a U turn at the end of the runway and a small taxi and here we are.
The terminal building, small but sufficient for the 2 to 4 daily flights operated from it.
Next to the terminal, you can find the tower and the firefighter's hangar.
We are parked nose out, and engines are quickly shut down, time for the passengers to leave the cabin
Friendly farewell from our crew and we exit the aircraft by the rear left door.
Always the same nice tail design.
To reach the gate you've to walk few meters to the terminal building
Time to have a last view on our aircraft.
The arrival hall is really small and has difficulty to contain all the passengers from the flight and all there goods.
After picking up our luggage it's time to leave the airport to visit the island. There is barely no service at the airport with just a sales counter and no wifi.
And to leave the airport it could be complicated if you didn't book anything prior to your arrival: - You've book a room on the single hotel of the island who's a shuttle service. - Like us you've the luck to find a car rental (very expensive and rare during the wedding season) - You can call a local taxi (it will come if there is no oil shortage on the island, a common thing) - You know a relative on the island who's a car… not so obvious.
I let you here, you will find on the bonus few pictures about aviation in Magenta hope you will enjoy it!
Bonus : Click here display hide
Magenta airport is an easy spotting place with a lot of view point around it. Of course traffic is mostly composed of Air Calédonie ATR 72.
For my birthday gift my girlfriend offers me a nice surprise with a scenic flight on the lagoon. A really nice and memorable experience warmly recommended if you have a spare day in Noumea. Meeting point is on the other side of the Magenta airfield inside Aéroclub Calédonien hangar.
You will find the usual air school/club environment with always somebody to help you. Caution you should book it in advance. Our flying machine will be the venerable and a bit tired Piper PA28.
Few minutes after take off we flew next to islet Maître where we spend our first day in New Caledonia.
Then Signal islet, with the usual lagoon blue sea.
We are going wider to reach the corral reef. At 500ft you can see Manta rays swimming underneath the wing !
We are quickly arriving in front of Amédée lighthouse, time to go back to Nouméa, another famous place.
The 30 minutes booked are far away thanks to our pilot we've got some extra time ! We are now down wind to approach the Magenta airfield.
Runway is on sight.
We are cleared to land on runway 17, we've got a smooth landing to conclude this nice experience.
Nouméa - GEA
Maré - MEE
Another spectacular flight performed by Air Calédonie, once again the service is average, aircraft is well design for this type of flight, crew are friendly and professional and if you have a window the entertainment is incredible but all this good points are balanced by the lack of catering service and the high ticket price.
Air Calédonie: Comfort: Once again these new ATR's are really good on this small island hopping, the Expliseat cabin with lightweight seat is still comfortable for 30 minutes flights. Crew: Friendly cabin crews with the smile on their face, focus on passenger safety, and with a good insect fighting skills. Good ! Entertainment : In flight magazine, but the main entertainment is at the window with, once again this incredible scenery flight over the lagoon. Catering: Nothing is served or sold on board. For an half hour flight you can at least give a bottle of water. When you see the ticket price ...
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