After a great long weekend in Quindío Department it was time to go back to Bogotá and work, I couldn't find cheap fares until tuesday morning, first flight leaving at 6am, which is taken by a lot of people who need to do their business in Bogotá, and I guess taking some of the flights in the AM bank to North America.
Before some pictures of the trip:
The view of Quindío Department, the smallest in continental Colombia, from Bellavista.
One can see the runway of Armenia's El Edén airport.
Through the roads…lots of green.
Back to what concerns us,
I had to take a cab from my inlaws' around 4:45AM so I could be at the airport at boarding time. I had collected my BP the night before when my girlfriend was leaving to Bogotá.
Being so close to the region's most important city, Pereira, Armenia's airport is cannibalized by the latter's airport which is much more active. AXM's activity is mainly some 5 daily flights to BOG by AV, some flights to Medellín and two weekly flights to FLL on NK. The airport was destroyed by an earthquake in 1999 and is one of Colombia's newest terminals now, nothing fancy anyway.
ATC tower in the morning lights.
Boarding with a lovely sunrise.
Wingview from my seat.
AV's A318 fleet was bought second hand from former MX to replace its F100 and have commonality with the rest of the (mainly) Airbus fleet (BTW AV is one of the few airlines in the world to operate the whole A320 family types). Hence the lack of (mostly standard) PTVs. I was impressed to see that the plane had already the new interiors ( gray leather) that will be common along the whole narrowbody fleet, along with the new logo on its displays (it was lauched just 5 days before the flight)
We took off southwards, passing by the town of La Tebaida and then doing circles while picking up altitude to cross the Central Andes ridge
AXM's single runway
The Cauca River and the Western Andes
Crossing the Central Andes, they are covered in clouds most of times, if I had taken a seat on the left side of the A318 I would have been able to see some nice snow peaked volcanoes.
After crossing the Central Andes we were at the Magdalena River Valley, mainly cultivated with rice and other cereals…this region of Colombia is called Tolima.
Sadly the clouds covered its capital city, Ibagué, but one could see some of its eastern neighbourhoods
Crossing the Magdalena River means we're practically in BOG (about 5 mins away)…in car this would mean another 2 to 3 hours to Bogotá as you have to climb 2000 metres into Bogotá's plateau.
In this sequence you can see how abruptly the terrain rises.
Then you see Bogotá's dormitory towns, such as Facatativa
And Madrid, with its Air Force base.
Then you're over San Andrés Golf Club and you're less than 1 minute from landing.
Touchdown! RWY 13R
The Cargo platform @BOG is used for extra parking space for planes spending the night
What is now the Domestic Concourse
Two examples of Copa Colombia's fleet
AV A319s taking the morning sun before leaving, probably to IAD or PTY
UAs flight either to EWR or IAH
AA's morning flight to MIA, I love AA752s
LA flies to SCL, GRU and MIA with 763s
Another shot at AV's new livery
Contrasting the old and new
Armenia - AXM
Bogota - BOG
AV's national flights are rather uninspiring, service is pretty lame. OK I wont complain about a really short flight such as this, maybe drinks are more than enough, LA doesn't even give anything on their hops between Bogotá and Pereira (45km north from AXM), but in the good old days they would at least hand some snacks too.
The best part of the flight is the view and that compensates for the lack of IFE. But then again the flight is really short, practically it consists of the plane getting high enough to start approach sequence into BOG because of AXM's closeness to BOG.
AXM is a fine airport for the demand it has, and being new it is pretty decent for a second tier airport in Colombia. BOG's Puente Aereo is perfect for arriving as you're on the curbside in a jiffy if you're not carrying baggage, less than 5 minutes were spent from the plane to the cab. Very practical if you need to do business in BOG.
Thanks for reading,
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