Welcome to what I believe is the first FR on a Colombian domestic route.
Colombian domestic routes tend to be really short as most big cities are concentrated in the Andean region of the country, but they're necessary as the rugged terrain forces terrestrial transport to be really slow, that is why some domestic routes in Colombia are even shorter than those in other countries. Avianca is currently fasing out their old Fokker 50 fleet replacing them with newer ATRs that will serve airports in LatAm that are not capable to handle jets, being the only plane on AV's fleet I haven't flown in I rushed to take a flight to my girlfriend's hometown, Armenia, in the Colombian Coffee Region.
Whereas BOG has a crisp new modern terminal that replaced the 1950's vintage building, Avianca operates its domestic flights from the Puente Aéreo or Air bridge, that was built in the early 1980s to accomodate flights to Miami, New York and Colombia's main cities. Nevertheless, now it is now only a domestic terminal…basically a bus station for airplanes.
There aren't many amenities (unless you have Status on LifeMiles or Star Alliance and then you can go to AV's Lounge), some restaurants, but they don't afford nice views to the tarmac.
Here's the view from a restaurant in the second floor, on the left side is landside, right hand side is the airside, where common boarding rooms are.
As AV is the sole operator in the terminal, there isn't much variety on the views outside:
One can peek into Lineas Aereas Suramericanas' (cargo company) hangar, which has a nice collection of vintage three holers…these where commonplace in Colombian skies when I was young, then replaced by Mad Dogs and now by generic Airbuses.
To add some variety, AV has loads of Star Alliance logojets, whilst their new livery was presented after the merger with TACA. (the new image and livery was announced earlier that week BTW)
While I was having breakfast I could spot my favorite football team taking a flight, I think it was to Medellín (Colombia's second biggest city)
Eventually it was boarding time, so I went to the common boarding rooms, where I was informed that our flight was rescheduled as there was congestion in Bogotá's airspace (AV and BOG has grown so much in traffic that it is no longer efficient)
So I kept watching red planes from my seat and reading my book.
After some time we were called to the bus, while we were waiting more spotting…
And more red during the bus trip to the hard stands near the International Terminal, this trip used to be awesome as one could pass by 767s and 757s now is mainly Airbuses and the dwindling Fokker fleet…
and our plane…we call them Jeeps on wings, or mosquitoes.
A snap to the Intl' flights..featuring AA 763 to MIA on the front.
As I entered the Cabin my first impression was….how dim and small, the seats were way smaller than those on the jet fleet, but still confortable (for a 45 minute hop)
I like that you can actually see the landing gear
As soon as everyone had taken their seat, the flight was around 75% full, we began taxi to BOG's southern runway (RWY 13L)
AA's 763, it's a shame they're letting this gorgeous livery go
Another discusting change was AV's … the plane with the new livery is surrounded by some of AV's heavies (heading to MAD, JFK and GRU I guess)
AV A332 in Star Alliance livery, on one of the former international gates. At that time the old terminal was being used as domestic terminal for all airlines other than AV, but AV's operation is so big that they have to use every usable space.
This is the Airbus-farm, where all international narrowbodies are, mainly used by the AV group, and some domestic flights.
We headed a line composed of a Colombian Air Force Caravan, two AV airbuses and a F50.
One cool feature of F50s is how fast they take off, even at BOG's 2600m
Take off pattern to the south permitted nice views of:
CATAM, Colombian Air Force base @BOG., mainly cargo and VIP transport.
BOG's new terminal (it was finished two months ago, they're finishing the demolition of the old terminal in order to enable the full building to be used).
The Cargo terminals, you can see the Puente Aereo and its red cohort on the other side of the road.
After the airport tour, nice views of our Capital City were afforded:
El Salitre one of Bogotá's newer CBDs, Simon Bolivar Park and Chapinero (somewhat like a Midtown) in the background.
A more comprehensive view…you can spot Bogotá's football stadium at the left side and the CBD at the rightside
Zoom into Bogotá's CBD with its skyscrapers and Monserrate with its iconic church in the middle.
The green avenue that crosses the city on a E-W direction is called Avenida de las Américas is 100 metres wide.
South Bogotá is where the most poor parts of the city are, some of its parts are over 3000m over sea level
Eventually the city ends and green comes in
Bogotá is located in a plateau that abruptly ends, as one can see in Tequendama waterfalls, 157 metres high.
Nearing the Magdalena River Valley, these grounds are around 500m over sea level.
Girardot used to be an important river harbor until the mid 20th century, now a very popular touristic destination for Bogotanos as weather is warmer all year long.
Colombian Andes are split in three main branches: the west, central and east branches. Between the first two is the Cauca River valley, where Armenia is located. Bogotá is located in the middle of the East Branch. So one has to cross the Central branch which is the highest, peaking up to 5700 metres over sea level.
This is Colombia's most important road, it connects Bogotá with the Pacific Ocean and Ecuador. As you can see it snakes through the ridges and is currently being upgraded to a motorway.
As soon as the central branch of the Andes is passed, one is over Armenia, the plane has to descend doing a P shaped circuit in order to line up with AXM's RWY 20, which is located south of the city.
Zoom into Armenia's centre
Colombia's Coffee Region…it is one of our main touristic destinations along with the Caribbean mainly for ecotourism.
As the plane lines up with RWY 20, views of Armenia's skyline are possible, I love how the city just pops out of the coffee fields
Gears down, over the farms
Sunset between the coffee fields
Bogota - BOG
Armenia - AXM
As the main purpose of this flight was flying the F50, I can say I was fully satisfied, specially since the flight was calm and afforded great views of my country. Now some specifics:
Bogotá's Puente Aéreo Terminal: it is a dump and as AV's operation grows and grows it is chaotic, fortunately the ordeal finishes next year. Security is fast nonetheless, and it is mainly clean.
AV's service: Non-existent, they just handle a boxed juice and that's practically it. The crew's attitude is basically uninterested, AV's domestic product is really lame. The plane obviously showed its age, but it was fairly confortable. Don't know if I would like to be in one of these flying jeeps for longer flights, I hope the ATRs are much better.
Armenia El Eden: well, nothing out of ordinary bags came out fairly quick (ours was the only flight at the time) and in less than 10 minutes I was driving off to the city.
Thanks for reading, saludos!
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