Hello everyone, welcome to this FR. Now most of you will say, you've already reported on the BOG-AXM run, true. But, this time I'm reporting AV's newest acquisition: the ATR72.
So AV bought the ATRs to replace their aging F50 fleet in Colombia, and their ATR42s in Central America. It also seems that they intend to introduce them in Peruvian routes. The cool part about reporting this route is that we're able to compare the performance of both planes in a semi equal way. Also, I chose this particular flight for this exclusive reason, there were flights later on but not on the ATR.
Leaving at 6:30 meant that normally, we would have to be at BOG's Puente Aéreo (AV's domestic terminal) at 6:00, but being the last weekend of the year, one could guess that the place would be filled. AV was having capacity issues during the whole of December and previous months, clearly they've grown to much for BOG to support their operations efficiently.
Girlfriend of course, was furious at me for having her waking up at 4am on a Saturday.
So as told…the place was hectic.
We had checked-in online, but the bag drop queue was longer and slower than the regular check-in one. So what's the purpose of having web check-in you geniuses (AV seems to have hired the lamest students from the universities to manage their Puente Aéreo ops.) The queue was so slow, that people where picked from it depending on their departure line. So in our case, even when we arrived 1:30h before departure time we burnt 45 mins queuing pointlessly, by the time we were by the middle of it we were called to the front.
The lady at check in was efficient as possible, and tried to dispatch us as quickly as possible, so more people could be tended.
We bought breakfast at Dunkin' Donuts and moved on to the boarding gate.
By then we had gorgeous dawn lighting
Eventually we were called to the bus, the ATR was at a remote position by the new terminal.
A compilation of AV's liveries in the last 8 years
Fokker 50, a.k.a. mosquitoes or jeeps on wings
And we made it to our chariot, HK-4999X (it's a shame AV doesn't name their planes) my first ever ATR. Looking gorgeous this morning.
Nice and tidy new cabin.
While the cabin was being filled I took some random pictures.
I think the cabin has a design flaw, the seat numbers are not visible when the bin doors are open, very bad placing!
Seats where comfortable (probably for an 1h-2h tops) and had decent legroom. Don't understand while they have fabric and not leather like the rest of the short haul fleet.
All pax in (about half of them foreigners!) and we're about to go…but some things had to be checked first. It seems AV is still adjusting to their new toys.
And now we're good to go. Take off from RWY 13R, as usual for westbound departures. Engines start, noise level: bearable.
This photo is somewhat symbolic…F50s have been grounded as of March.
10 or 20 years ago spotting in Colombia was thrilling, lots of diversity in airlines and aircraft types. To a point it was even exotic for visitors from Europe or US as types such as 727s and DC9s where still around. Now everything is A320s and ATRs here…meh.
Passing by the International Terminal, Colombia's national airlines are represented, LAN, Avianca and Copa.
I almost got the plane Avionero came to Bogotá!
Colombian Air Force planes, mainly transport.
Nice reflection from the pavement
BOG's ATC tower…it's so sad to see the old terminal go. Lots and lots of fond memories there.
The Domestic terminal is partially in use, when the old terminal is finally gone they'll enable the inner gates (about to happen as of now)
LAN's domestic ops. Avionero may illustrate us further. I don't fly LAN, so we'll wait till AV moves there or I fly with another carrier that uses that terminal.
At RWY13R, we were #2 for take off after this Copa 737-800
The grass was shiny as it had mist on it…very typical in Bogotá's mornings (they may even get frosted, as temperature may drop bellow 0°C)
CM off to PTY with our gorgeous Cerros Orientales as a backdrop.
With the Boeing done, it was our time. The pilot (who was French BTW) greeted us and told us our routing, he had done his homework, knew well the route. Our French pilot pushed the levelers forward and then the ordeal began. Noise was so high, my ears hurt. The other two props I've rode in (Dash7 and F50) weren't this bad.
The terminal looks so nice, hope BOG now gets more decent ratings.
The Cargo Platform with two american visitors, AA 752 to MIA and DL 73G to ATL
Can you see the three holers?
Bogotá in the morning, how peaceful and nice…by this time the noise somehow was neutralized (I read ATRs have a noise neutralization system, was that it?)
And the city gives way to countryside
That's INDUMIL's factory, where the Colombian Armed forces has their weapons done
And the Cundiboyacan plateau ends, it never ceases to amaze me how abruptly.
The road to Girardot, and eventually Armenia can be seen.
You can see Bogotá River falling from the plateau.
These lands are about 1000m below Bogotá, we call them tierra caliente (hot lands) in contrast to our tierra fría (cold lands) in Bogotá.
It was so early there was still hazy all around.
These are the houses where people from Bogotá go to have some nice warm time.
Crossing the Magdalena River into Tolima Department
By this time (practically the middle of the flight) service begun. This time it consisted of boxed juices and a pair of oat cookies. Better than the last time, but I suspect this is the breakfast menu. It's a shame is not as nice presented as AR and LAs snackboxes. The FA asked me if my GF would want her ration too when she woke up, I made a don know face but she left them anyway, in case she does wake up hungry. Nice of her. (I ended up eating and drinking her stuff he he)
No IFE, but the land gave the entertainment, the foreigners where thrilled with it, so was I. I woke my GF but she said…I've seen it enough times, now let me sleep!
Nevado del Tolima
Nevado del Ruiz volcano
If I'm not wrong this is Combeima River canyon, just off from Ibague.
The rugged terrain of the Central Cordillera
After the oohs and ahhs…the guys at the front warned the FAs to pick everything as we where about to begin descent and landing procedures. Armenia was just after the Ridge. The plane passes over the city and then turns right, and does a U turn southwards to align with AXM's RWY 20.
This is the Autopista del Café, which connects the main cities of the Coffee Region: Armenia, Pereira and Manizales.
This town is called Filandia, from there you can see both Armenia and Pereira.
Nevado del Tolima looked awesome…
And we go down into the clouds
The coffee and banana fields visible now, along with the fincas
Armenia's skyline with Nevado del Tolima at the back
Welcome to the tropic!
AXM's terminal building.
GF was so asleep we where practically the last ones out. She's a heavy sleeper, even through the landing she slept.
In AXM, you walk directly to the Terminal….aww the airfield smell. As the sign says, that's the ATC Tower.
Bye bye ATR, great meeting you!
Baggage was picked in no time, and out we were for our New Year's long weekend.
Bogota - BOG
Armenia - AXM
A very nice flight to try the newest type in AV's fleet. Service and comfort OK. Overall a great improvement over the Fokkers.
AV: Check in in BOG was awful, AV should sack the people who run Puente Aéreo. Service during flight OK, nice touch by the FA to leave my GF's drink and cookies. It would have been nice if they'd installed TVs (it is an option on the ATR) to have the moving map. AV could present their snack better IMO, like LA or AR do.
BOG: When BOG had its old terminal, Puente Aéreo was nice, now that the new terminal is done, it looks like a dump. Check in was so poorly managed it's probably the worst experience I've had in this respect.
AXM: Efficient arrival. From the plane to the car in less than 20 mins.
Thanks for reading,
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