Day (almost) trip to Djibouti.

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Homo Aeroportus
Posts: 1298
Joined: 24 Feb 2007, 18:28
Location: 2300NM due South of North Pole

Day (almost) trip to Djibouti.

Post by Homo Aeroportus »

Slow times lately so I thought I’d share with you some pics taken during my last trips.

I had been invited to visit Djibouti airport (HDAM-JIB) at the end of November. First time in the country for me, not that I saw much of it though.
The republic of Djibouti is small by size, 2/3 of Belgium, with a population of only 1 million but occupies a very important position in the Horn of Africa.
As Alexandre de Marenches used to say : If you want to understand politics, look at the map.

Djibouti provides the only access to the sea for landlocked Ethiopia using a railway (built and operated by the Chinese) between Addis and the port of Djibouti.
Thanks to its strategic location, Djibouti also attracted the US, French, Italian, Japanese and Chinese military. China is currently setting up an impressive military base near the new Doraleh Multipurpose Port that they have also just finished building.
The US is present for +10 years, having taken over Camp Lemonier (south part of Djibouti-Ambouli Airport) from the French Foreign Legion. The USAF and CIA used to fly primarily drones from there, covering the region from Yemen to Somalia. After multiple incidents including “interferences” with civil flights and several Predator crashes, the US were invited in late 2013 to move their Ops to Chabelley airfield HDCH about 10km West of JIB-HDAM where they currently operate 15-20 UAVs, Reapers and Predators.

So off I went, with Ethiopian. BRU-ADD-JIB.

First leg BRU-ADD
STD 2130 STA 0630+1 ET-ANO, B77L not even 9-year young.
As I was to work straight upon arrival after the stop-over in ADD, I made a bid for an upgrade to C. Worth the $180 though I found that the sleeping position was not as comfortable for me as with other airlines.

That day the aircraft remained in BRU after arriving from ADD in the morning, not extending to MAN, and the return flight to ADD had a low load of 105 Pax total, 14 out of 28 occupied in C.
Friendly cabin crew, good service, food OK, some sleep.
Uneventful flight, wake up at 0400 body time as I traded the breakfast for additional sleep. Landing 40 minutes later at 0640LT.
Not enough contact gates at ADD so remote parking and bussing to the terminal.

I went to the Cloud Nine lounge this time. A bit larger than the always very crowed Star Alliance Gold Lounge but same rather basic facility. Anyhow lay-over of barely one hour before moving on to the next flight.

ADD Cloud Nine Lounge.jpg

The opening last year of the extension to T2 has freed part of the departure hall and hence a much better flow to the security check points that were often creating havoc.
One interesting feature at ADD is that Star status passengers are offered a dedicated pre-boarding area from where you are bussed to the aircraft.
ADD Star Gold pre boarding.jpg

Leg 2 : ADD-JIB
STD 0905 STA 1020, ET-AQM B738 6-year old.
Departing 20 minutes late but arriving on time.
As we were bussed to a remote stand, I could spot this biplane in a junk yard. I could not identify the exact type though.

The cabin layout is C16 + Y138. The C cabin has large seats in a 2 + 2 arrangement with ample legroom.
Load factor was 100% in C and +90% in Y. This is due to the fact that ADD is the main route to JIB, bar the QR from DOH and of course the more or less regular regional flights from Yemen and Somalia.

Grass mowing in progress along RWY 07L:
ADD Weapon of grass destruction.JPG

After take-off from 07R a warm breakfast was served, followed by a quick pit stop to freshen up and I came back to my seat just in time to pick this up in the middle of nowhere:
Forlorn plane.JPG
IMG_0427.JPG (53.8 KiB) Viewed 1973 times

Somebody lost a plane lately? By the number of windows, it looks like a 732 though without the cockpit eyebrows.
Must be recently parked there as it does not appear on Google Earth (May 2018).

On short finals to RWY 09, the Doraleh Container Terminal. The Chinese fortress under construction is just off that pic on the left.

Balbala, suburb of Djibouti:

Landing on RWY 09.
Ubiquitous Connie 74 leaving the main apron, doing some cleaning as well while taxiing.
Connie blow job.JPG

JIB, like most of the East Africa region, got torrential rains just two days before I arrived. It still shows on an otherwise dry surrounding.

Parking in front of the airport terminal.

After the presentation, a tour of the facilities. Not too hot at 32°C but UV Index is above 4000.

ST-MRA B735 Arriving from Khartoum.
My name is nobody.JPG
Born 1993, first flew with Luxair for 17 years then with Sudan Airways as ST-MRA and finally as from Oct 2013 under same reg with Marshland Aviation also based in Sudan.

Two airlines are based at HDAM : Air Djibouti, aka Red Sea Airlines, and Daallo Airlines (whose A321 flew in 2016 to Mogadishu on behalf of TK that had anticipated their plane was to go tech, Daallo carrying the bomb out of Mog on their own plane).

Air Djibouti is run by a young and dynamic CEO. He was hired when Cardiff Aviation (yes, Bruce Dickinson – Iron Maiden) walked out from their supporting role in Air Djibouti, taking back their aircraft as well.
They fly to ADD, Aden (Yemen), Hargeisa (Somaliland), Mogadishu (Somalia) and will further develop the network to Jeddah, Dire Dawa (Ethiopia) later to Boosaasoo and Garowe (Puntland).
Today their fleet consist in one (1) aircraft :
Air Jib.JPG

A 27-year old lady having started her career in 1993 with … SABENA as OO-SYK.
According to, the plane is registered as Asia Sky Lines, an airline created in 2017 and headquartered in Tajikistan having a fleet of 1 aircraft …

End of the afternoon, time to head back to the terminal to check-in for my return flight.
JIB Check-in.JPG

VIP lounge, large enough to accommodate two Yanks and yours truly.
JIB Lounge.JPG

Leg 3 : JIB-ADD
STD 1900 STA 2030, ET-APF B738 8-year old
Load factor seems to be at least 200% but I don’t care, dozing in my window seat. Left 20 minutes late but arrived on time.
Seems I’m getting a bit tired and not anymore able to understand the signage at Addis :
ADD welcome route.JPG

Anyhow, back to the ET lounge where my goal is to not fall sound asleep while waiting for my next flight … in 4 hours.

Leg 4 : ADD-BRU
STD 0100 STA 0615+1, ET-AUP B789 6-year old
Boarding via a boarding bridge this time, won’t complain. My legs knew the whole of us needed to go down the right aisle to row 14. Crashed in there and walked out of it 7 hours later after a very good sleep.
Landing 2 minutes ahead of time at 0613. Stand 205; nice that’s a short walk to PP control, car park and home by 0700.
Looking for my next flight in 24 hours.

Stay safe. Stay home.


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Re: Day (almost) trip to Djibouti.

Post by sn26567 »

Very interesting report on unusual places. Keep them coming!
ex Sabena #26567

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