Global FTWA competition resumes after thousands take part in two weeks of public votes

Bucharest Airport’s proud firefighters

Standing between a magnificent pair of IVECO Magirus Dragon tenders are some of Bucharest Airport’s proud firefighters which helped to deliver the victory in the second ever public vote for global excellence in Fire Truck Water Arches.

Over the last few weeks, running alongside’s traditional public Cake of the Week votes which always mark the start of the Northern Hemisphere summer operational season, our readers were also invited to vote for their favourite Fire Truck Water Arch (FTWA). Our data elves were staggered, but not entirely surprised by the popularity of the competition which crowned two airports with the coveted ‘Arch of Triumph’, with nearly 2,000 votes cast over those two weeks. In fact, both FTWAs proved almost as popular, in terms of votes made, as the long-running and more established Cake of the Week competition, just going to show how important this new battle of airport marketing departments has become. The spoils went to two Eastern Europe capitals — namely Budapest and Bucharest — with both airports blowing away the competition, achieving 45% and 70% of the votes in their respective weeks. The victory achieved by the Romanian capital city airport was a particularly proud moment for’s Assistant Editor Vlad Cristescu, who was raised in Bucharest: “This is the most exciting day (he’s been with the company less than six months) of my career so far — even more exciting than when I heard about the plans for start-up Fly Romania (which launches several routes from next month).

It’s business as usual this week however, with’s four ‘expert’ judges (including Cristescu) scoring offerings from the world’s airports over the last two weeks of new route launches. After winning last week’s Cake of the Week for the launch of its Belfast City route from Doncaster Sheffield, the Yorkshire airport’s quirky approach to FTWAs has secured it another victory this week, this time for the start of its Isle of Man service, as well as the #2 spot on the leader board for 2014.

Date Route FTWA Airport Score
1 February Qatar Airways Cargo Doha to Dubai Al Maktoum Dubai Al Maktoum (DWC) 37.4
14 April LinksAir Doncaster Sheffield to Isle of Man Doncaster Sheffield (DSA) 35.6
3 March bmi regional Newcastle to Brussels Newcastle (NCL) 31.5
19 December SWISS Geneva to Belgrade Belgrade (BEG) 30.5
4 March Turkish Airlines Istanbul Atatürk to Rotterdam Rotterdam (RTM) 29.4
18 January Peach Aviation Osaka Kansai to Kaohsiung Kaohsiung (KHH) 29.0
17 February AirEuropa Madrid to Almería Almería (LEI) 28.2
22 February Far Eastern Air Transport Taichung to Kinmen Kinmen (KNH) 27.7
6 February flydubai Dubai to Hofuf Hofuf (HOF) 25.3
13 March Interjet Mexico City to Palenque Palenque (PQM) 23.0

LinksAir Doncaster Sheffield to Isle of Man 14 April

LinksAir Doncaster Sheffield to Isle of Man 14 April

Doncaster Sheffield Airport’s Chris Harcombe (left) and LinksAir’s Roger Hage (right) use water pistols instead of fire trucks for this FTWA.

Judge’s comments: Always use the right equipment for the job. When you have 19-seat Jetstream 31 to deliver an FTWA on, it’s probably best not to get the fire trucks out, just in case you blow the aircraft back down the taxiway. Use high-powered water pistols instead! Known as ‘Robin Hood’, this FTWA gives delight to the rich and to the poor.

Marc: 9.2; Paul: 8.9; Ralph: 8.5; Vlad: 9.0

flynas Jeddah to London Gatwick 8 April

flynas Jeddah to London Gatwick 8 April

One half London Gatwick firefighters; one half Mother Nature = average FTWA.

Judge’s comments: Now we all enjoy the appearance of a rainbow in an FTWA, but when it completely obscures one half of the arch someone needs to take Mother Nature to one side and explain to her not to stray into territories where she is omnipotent and leave it to those that are — airport marketeers. It’s still pretty though eh?

Marc: 6.6; Paul: 7.5; Ralph: 8.3; Vlad: 7.7

Flybe Birmingham to Cologne Bonn 10 April

Flybe Birmingham to Cologne Bonn 10 April

New ‘purple’ livery Flybe Q400 gets its first wash in Germany.

Judge’s comments: No doubt the execs that patrol the corridors of power at Flybe Towers down in Exeter want to keep their new liveried Q400 looking pristine for any photo opps that may present themselves (especially given the small fortune they probably paid their swanky London advertising agency on its rebranding exercise only to be told ‘paint your planes purple’), but this ‘Cologne Curtaining’ treatment was perhaps a bit excessive. Result is a nice clean aircraft, but not a standout FTWA. See our story on Flybe’s new ‘virtual’ base at London City

Marc 7.1; Paul: 7.1; Ralph: 6.7; Vlad: 7.5

InselAir Aruba Aruba to Miami 11 April

InselAir Aruba Aruba to Miami 11 April

Gravity-defying display from the right-hand tender.

Judge’s comments: Now we’ve been doing this competition for almost a year now, but none of us has ever seen a water jet like the one on the right-hand side of this so-called arch from Miami. It defies gravity, physics and the Warsaw Convention. Despite the lack of arch, we have given it points just for sheer uniqueness.

Marc: 7.3; Paul: 6.9; Ralph: 6.3; Vlad: 7.2

Vueling Barcelona to Leipzig/Halle 11 April

Vueling Barcelona to Leipzig/Halle 11 April

Don’t go in the water. Clearly the Leipzig/Halle fire crews are afraid of Shark(lets).

Judge’s comments: Obviously the Leipzig/Halle Airport fire crews heard the word ‘shark’ and decided to keep their distance from the aircraft they were told to conduct an FTWA on, not realising it was just a Sharklet-equipped, brand new Vueling A320. The result is a ‘Dukes of Hazard’ style FTWA, which also appears to be wind-affected.

Marc: 5.4; Paul: 4.9; Ralph: 3.5; Vlad: 5.8

flybe Birmingham to Porto 12 April

flybe Birmingham to Porto 12 April

Porto provides double arch welcome for Flybe’s new Birmingham route.

Judge’s comments: Unlike the offering from London Gatwick, Porto’s airport fire crews and Mother Nature have worked in harmony to create something of beauty and wonder. We still would have liked to see the two respective water jets meet more decisively. See our story on Flybe’s new ‘virtual’ base at London City.

Marc: 8.3; Paul: 8.5; Ralph: 8.7; Vlad: 8.5

Lufthansa Munich to Lamezia Terme 12 April

Lufthansa Munich to Lamezia Terme 12 April

Arrrrrrrgh! Photo bombed by an airport bus. Oh and a noise screen. Any sign of an FTWA?

Judge’s comments: Too much ‘visual clutter’ in this picture, with the airport bus driver clearly wanting a ‘piece of the action’. We think the airport marketing team at Lamezia Terme may want a re-think on the location for the next FTWA shot.

Marc: 3.2; Paul: 2.4; Ralph: 1.9; Vlad: 2.0 France Paris Orly to Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen 12 April France Paris Orly to Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen 12 April

Maybe the Turkish sunshine blinded the Sabiha Gökçen fire crews when they welcomed the France flight.

Judge’s comments: Classic ‘Gangnam Style’ Arch was produced by the fire crews from Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen — if the right-hand tender hadn’t been dazzled by the April sunshine in the Turkish capital, this could have been a serious contender this week. Still, not a bad effort for the first offering from SAW in the ‘Arch of Triumph’ competition.

Marc: 6.7; Paul: 7.0; Ralph: 7.5; Vlad: 6.9

Air Algérie Algiers to Lisbon 14 April

Air Algérie Algiers to Lisbon 14 April

What’s Portuguese for ‘Tobleroning’? Tobleroning’.

Judge’s comments: These tenders are up nice and close to the aircraft, which scores well with the judges, but just too much height on the FTWA, resulting in excessive ‘Tobleroning’.

Marc: 7.3; Paul: 6.8; Ralph: 5.8; Vlad: 7.4

interCaribbean Airways Montego Bay to Kingston 16 April

interCaribbean Airways Montego Bay to Kingston 16 April

Will that Brasilia fit through the gap left by the tenders – yes with millimetres to spare!!

Judge’s comments: To be that close to such a small aircraft and to still make a hash of the FTWA is bad form. Let’s hope they never have to do one on an A330 or 787. There will be water covering half of Jamaica.

Marc: 5.3; Paul: 5.3; Ralph: 4.4; Vlad: 6.2 Amsterdam to Thessaloniki 17 April Amsterdam to Thessaloniki 17 April

Greek National pride very evident in Thessaloniki this week.

Judge’s comments: This arch is let down on two elements. The picture was taken slightly too late and the dose of national pride, with the encroachment of the ‘I Galanolefki’, have both impacted on what could have been an award-winning FTWA. Kakotychía Thessaloniki.

Marc: 8.5; Paul: 8.2; Ralph: 8.1; Vlad: 7.9 Amsterdam to Bari 17 April Amsterdam to Bari 17 April

A fine mist rather than a fine water arch.

Judge’s comments: Despite the fact that the fire crews at Bari are merely trying to recreate the well-known local phenomenon known ‘Heel Mist’, a springtime fog that comes in from the Adriatic Sea and shrouds the coastline, we can’t give them any more points for this attempt.

Marc: 7.1; Paul: 5.6; Ralph: 3.7; Vlad: 5.9 Eindhoven to Athens 18 April Eindhoven to Athens 18 April

Half a tail and half a FTWA for this Eindhoven effort.

Judge’s comments: Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. The significance of the start-up of thrice-weekly operations to the Greek capital must have over-awed the Eindhoven airport marketing team. Total FTWA disaster.

Marc: 2.9; Paul: 2.6 Ralph: 2.4; Vlad: 2.5

Aer Lingus Dublin to Pula 19 April

Aer Lingus Dublin to Pula 19 April

More ‘photo clutter’ and poor photographer positioning in Pula.

Judge’s comments: Maybe it’s the same photographer working in Lamezia Terme, Thessaloniki and here in Pula, as we have another cluttered, long-range shot of the aircraft in question — with the Aer Lingus machine just visible in the middle distance. But for that error, this FTWA would have scored better.

Marc: 6.4; Paul: 5.7; Ralph: 5.0; Vlad: 5.8

China Eastern Airlines Nanchang to Kaohsiung 20 April

China Eastern Airlines Nanchang to Kaohsiung 20 April

A smiling aircraft for a good FTWA from Kaohsiung.

Judge’s comments: With one win already under its belt in 2014, we should expect a decent display from the firecrews at Kaohsiung — and that’s exactly what we have got. However there is a smidge too much of ‘Tobleroning’ for our liking, but that really is the only thing that let’s this effort down.

Marc: 8.8; Paul: 8.4; Ralph: 7.9; Vlad: 8.4


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