Monday, July 28, 2014

Sabena: First flight from Conakry to Brussels

Although similar first-day covers announcing mid-century Sabena services to West Africa have been featured from the earliest days of Timetablist, this particular item hasn't been posted before: Sabena's 1959 service from Conakry to Brussels, with a special envelope featuring the famous Hôtel de Ville next to a West African mask, with the Boeing Jet Intercontinental. An alarming Guinean serpent stamp occupies the upper right.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Sabena: First Flight Brussels-Elizabethville, May 1953

An historic gem showing the Brussels-Rome-Athens-Cairo-Entebbe-Stanleyville-Elizabethville route's launch in May 1953, which was noted on Sabena's route map earlier this week without the Ugandan stop. The envelope, stamped at Ciampino Airport in Italy, was only posted as far as Lake Victoria's shores, in British East Africa.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Korongo Weekly Flight Schedule, 2013

Switching back to Korongo, whose weekly timetable from last year shows just how small the fledgling airline's operations truly are: only one, at most two, flights per day, with the most frequent operation being a near-daily Lubumbashi-Kinshasa service, which stops in Mbuji-Mayi on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Sundays. Service to Johannesburg is also thrice weekly.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Congo par Sabena, 1954

A domestic route map of sixty years ago looks much more impressive than the meagre network of Korongo today. Sabena offered services to no less than thirty airports in the vast Belgian colony, with what looks to be busy stations not only at the capital Leopoldville, and the principal regional administrative outposts at Elizabethville and Stanleyville, but throughout the interior of the enormous territory.

There were more than half a dozen routes via various way stations to the metropole in Brussels, including Tripoli, Casablanca, and Rome; all the routes from the capital connected at Kano, which must have been quite an operation in its own right.

In addition, regional African routes spanned the territorial border in all directions: from Leopoldville to Portuguese Luanda and Johannesburg, which also had a link to Elizabethville; from Albertville to Dar Es Salaam, from Libenge to Bangui, in French Equatorial Africa. Not especially the route to Entebbe and Nairobi, especially how Kigali lies within the realm of Belgian Central Africa at this time.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Korongo Promotion: Lubumbashi to Kinshasa and return, 2014

While the Democratic Republic of Congo may have among the lowest internet penetration rates in the world, Korongo Airlines nonetheless proceeds with a web marketing campaign as most of its customers are international mining executives, even in the case of its mainline domestic route between two of DRC's most important cities: the national capital, Kinshasa, and the capital of Katanga province, Lubumbashi. A deal priced in US Dollars.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Korongo Airlines Route Map, 2013-14

Still today, Belgian's primary commercial airline is greatly involved in the aviation market of the Congo. Here is a recent route map of Korongo Airlines, the Congolese subsidiary of Brussels Airlines, which has been featured previously here. 

The airline has slowly been expanding from southeastern Katanga province to the capital Kinshasa, where the dotted line SN flights reach Brussels almost daily. A connection to Johannesburg from Lubumbashi is especially convenient for mining executives; more recent routes now link Mbuji-Mayi and the secondary Katangan city of Kolwezione of the most active center for Cobalt mining in the world.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sabena Network: c.1955

Post-war, pre-jet age Sabena still had an impressive reach, with a dense network in Europe spinning out from the low countries northward to Oslo and Stockholm and east to Prague and Vienna. A single westward push stopped at Shannon before destinations unspecified in North America.

Southward, planes reached the Mediterranean at Nice, and stretched further down to Lisbon where a vague connection to South America is suggested. More articulated is the operation at Rome, with planes splitting off for North Africa,  the first crossing the Sahara to stop at Kano before finally reaching the vast Belgian Congo at Leopoldville. A non-stop from Brussels reached into the upper reaches of the Congo to terminate at Elisabethville and Stanleyville, and a single lined continued all the way down to Johannesburg.

In the east, flights criss-crossed at Athens, only reaching Tel Aviv in the Near East, with another flight to Cairo, which turned down to also reach the eastern cities of the colony.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Sabena: The African Network, 1973

Continuing from the previous post, but focussing on Africa: Belgium has a particular, and outsized, colonial history in Africa, the 20th century era of which is intimately intertwined with the corporate history of Sabena. Here, near the height of the Belgian Airlines extent, the flag carrier flew to fifteen cities south of the Sahara. 

In west Africa, flights from Zaventem National Airport reached Dakar, Conakry, Abidjan, Niamey, Kano and Douala, with interlinking onward service to Monrovia and Lagos. Further into Central Africa lay Kinshasa, surely Sabena's most important African destination, linked from Niamey, Douala in Africa and Brussels and Athens in Europe. It is notable that no other Congolese city was served. 

Athens served as a supra-Mediterranean station for flights to East Africa: Nairobi and Entebbe connected non-stop from Greece, as did an ultra-long haul to Johannesburg. All three were also served non-stop from the home base. Interestingly, Uganda's main airport was also directly connected to Vienna. Kigali and Bujumbura, the capitals of Belgium's other central African former colonies, were only served from Nairobi, with Dar Es Salaam also linked in. 

Special thanks again to Flickr user caribb (Doug from Montreal) for allowing reuse under creative commons licensing. 

Sabena: Belgian World Airlines, 1973

Continuing with the vintage global route maps of European airlines from Flickr user Caribb's incredible collection, this (unfortunately somewhat blurry) photo shows Sabena's system in its “Belgian World Airlines” prime (compare to “Italy's World Airline” in the previous posts).

Five continents are linked, which is more than today's Brussels Airlines can boast, as that airline has only recently reached New York and Washington, but as with today's successor, the flag carrier of Belgium was mostly concerned with flights within Europe and Africa. As with this week's Alitalia posts, the latter African flights will be examined in detail in a subsequent post.

For now, this pink-and-grey sub polar projection shows just a few routes to Asia and the Americas, interspersed with far too much detail of "other airlines" connecting services, which overall makes Sabena's network look much more comprehensive and makes the map much too complicated to read easily.

In North America, only New York and Montreal are served, with the latter flight continuing on to Mexico City and terminating, quite unusually, at Guatemala City. Late-terminal Sabena would serve a number of U.S. cities from Boston to Miami in the 1990s before its ignominious 2001 demise.

Further into Latin America, the South American cone is connected on a Brussels-Dakar-Buenos Aires-Santiago service, which, while definitely not the only Dakar-South America operation in aviation history, may be one of the few situations in situation that West Africa had a scheduled link with Argentina, as most such flights link to Brazil.

Looking east, Sabena maintained sizable bases in both Vienna and Athens, with flights from both cities non-stop to East and Southern Africa as well as the Near East, such as Nicosia. Moving across the Asian landmass, flights first stopped in Tehran, then Bombay, Bangkok and Singapore were all interconnected, before the network curved up through Manila to reach Tokyo, from whence Sabena curved back over the pole to return to Brussels via Anchorage, Alaska.

The extensive African network will be detailed in the following post.

Special thanks, as always, to Flickr user Caribb (Doug from Montreal) for the generous creative commons licensing which permits reposting of his collection. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Alitalia Route Map, 1977

It's been a while since we've taken advantage of the generosity of Flickr user Caribb (Doug from Montreal)'s creative commons allowance to post one of his photos documenting his collection of vintage airline memorabilia, but given the previous post, this 1977 Alitalia route map seems perfectly appropriate for this week.

In barely half a decade of the oil crisis 1970s, Italy's World Airline had already begun to greatly diminish its global reach; on nearly every continent, there are fewer destinations than in 1973. Only four cities remain in South America; Detroit has been dropped, but Philadelphia still remains; the Sydney-Melbourne service still exists but the Italian Kangaroo Route is now only a Rome-Bombay-Singapore option. Manila, Jakarta, and Kuala Lumpur are already lost.

Focussing on Africa, a non-stop to Luanda has actually been added since '73, but at the expense of Douala, Entebbe, and even Asmara, the Italian art-deco capital of East Africa. The Addis-Mogadishu service still exists, as does the Milan-Dakar-Buenos Aires service. Dar Es Salaam is now an offshoot of one of the Nairobi flights, one of which continues to Lusaka, another to Johannesburg, and lastly one still crosses into the Indian Ocean to Antananarivo and Mauritius.

Special thanks again to Doug from Montreal, Flickr user Caribb's allowance to repost this item under creative commons license. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Alitalia: The African Routes & Schedules, 1973.

A detail of the previous post, originally put up at Airline Memorabilia, showing the astonishing array of African routes operated by Alitalia forty-one years ago.

The jagged cartography reveals a busy system, with almost all flights were out of Rome, although the second line to Dakar links directly to Milan, which continued on to South America. The rest of West Africa is well served by individual flights to Abidjan, Accra, and Lagos, with an onward connection to Douala. Airline Memorabilia scanned in the full schedule, which shows a quad-jet fleet of DC-8s, B707s and even VC-10s humming across the Sahara to seventeen cities.

East Africa was even more thoroughly interconnected, with four routes from Rome, including the curious Athens-Entebbe-Lusaka; two which covered the colonial connections to the Horn of Africa: Jeddah-Asmara-Addis Ababa and Khartoum-Addis Ababa-Mogadishu, and finally a plunging trans-Indian Ocean route: Nairobi-Dar Es Salaam-Antananarivo-Mauritius. In the schedule below, a footnote helpfully details that connections are available at Dar to/from the Comores Islands.

The cone of Africa was by comparison only lightly linked, with a Nairobi-Johannesburg and a Kinshasa-Johannesburg route. The third link to Jo'berg, a long-haul nonstop from Fiumicino.

Of all these cities, Alitalia only serves Accra and Lagos today.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Alitalia: The Intercontinental Network, 1973

Another historic relic from Airline Memorabilia, a newsprint amp arrayed with the bright-green lines of the great Italian flag carrier of 1973. Truly "Italy's World Airline."

Unlike today, Alitalia of forty years ago was a six-continent global behemoth, with service to seven North American cities, including those like Detroit and Philadelphia that it no longer serves. Even Washington, D.C. is no longer a destination, and service to Chicago is seasonal. A further seven Latin American cities are shown, of which Lima, Caracas, Montevideo and Santiago have since been curtailed.

Somewhat Amazingly, the airline flew a wide band of routes across southern Asia to deepest Antipodea, with a twisting array of Kangaroo routes reaching both Sydney and Melbourne via Manila, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Singapore, and/or Bangkok, with onward service also to Hong Kong. Southeast Asia was itself reached via Karachi, Bombay, and Delhi. Exactly zero of these cities see the Italian airline today; the only Asian destination east of Iran is Tokyo.

What is perhaps even more noticeable, front-and-center of this polar projection, is the extensive African network, showering down from both Rome and Milan. A closer examination of these will be the subject of the next post.

Special Thanks as always to Airline Memorabilia for the use of the image. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Ethiopian Airlines: Now Flying to Niamey Four Times Weekly, November 2013

Ethiopian Airlines leads the pack of pan-continental African airlines, a highly-competitive field which includes South African and Kenya Airways (and which faces increasingly stiff challenges from Emirates in particular). Niger's capital, Niamey, was one of the few West African capitals that Ethiopian didn't already serve; this was rectified last November with the introduction of four weekly flights, although not using one of the airline's sleek new Dreamliners as shown in this advert. ET937 does however use a respectably large B757 for the transcontinental service, which continues on to neighboring Ouagadougou, as does a number of other connections such as Air France and Turkish.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Africa World Airlines: Flying to Lagos Twice Daily, 2014

Another online advert from Africa World Airlines, showing a very reasonable fare on its twice-daily service along one of West Africa's busiest international routes: the Accra-Lagos air bridge.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Africa World Airlines Fly In Style: More Flights for your Travel Convenience, 2014

Aero Contractors is not the only West African airline that is busy expanding. Accra-based Africa World Airlines, a venture backed by China's Hainan Airlines, has, despite its name, been mainly flying domestically within Ghana for most of its few years of existence. More recently, it has at least become an international carrier, with several flights to Lagos and lately a new route to Abuja, although the airline is far from any sort of global prominence that its "World" name ambitiously implies, it at least is slowly evolving into a regional player, operating on what is believed to be West and Central Africa's busiest trans-border air routes.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Aero Contractors: More Routes Now Available, April 2014.

A final Aero Contractors post, from the airline's website, and following on the two previous posts featuring the resurging airline's recent web adverts: this features both a schedule table on routes between Abuja and Kano and return, and Abuja-Asaba-Lagos and return, before a final roundtrip to Kano to end the day at 8:30pm.

To the right, behind the undercroft image of the Aero B737, is a somewhat curious map against a blue sky: seemingly upside-down, with Abuja below Lagos and Asaba, in Delta State, at far left, it also shows Kano between Lagos and Abuja, when it is far to the north.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Aero Contractors: Affordable Flights on All Routes Now, March 2014

Continuing with coverage of Aero's recent splash on the web is the active sidebar advert, with an imposed photo of one of the airline's B737-400s over their curious "AWOOF" tagline. Against the bright orange, it looks too much akin to a Clemson Football banner than a promotion for a Nigerian domestic route (perhaps a member of the family is a Tiger).

Branding questions aside, Aero's affordable presence (a 10,000Naira ticket is barely $61) in the market helps keep down prices of the dominant Arik, as the older yet less successful Aero reaches to Calabar, Benin City, Enugu, Kano, Warri and of course Abuja, among others.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Aero Contractors: Resumption of twice-daily Lagos-Warri flights, February 2014

Although Arik Air dominates internal and external aviation in Nigeria, it is not the only airline. Here is a recent web banner advert from the historic yet struggling Aero Contractors, which more recently has been styled simply as Aero, announcing the resumption from Lagos to Warri's Osubi Airport.

The carrier's exceedingly bland tail markings and generic name can't be helping with its reputation in the market, although the airline still reaches Accra and Douala, it was spread farther, such as to Monrovia, it currently seems to be rebuilding its domestic network first, having only just resumed flying from last year.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Arik Air: the domestic destinations, c.2013

A detail from the previous post, showing Arik Air's domestic destinations: twenty cities across Nigeria, from Calabar to Katsina, in addition to the two hubs of Abuja and Lagos. Presumably the network is nearly identical to what has been featured before on the Timetablist, but has never been presented in the lipstick lustre of this ticket office display banner.

Arik Air: the international destinations, c.2013

A floor display banner of a bright pomegranate shade, standing in a West African ticket office, shows the rather-recent reach of Arik Air, the de-facto flag carrier of Nigeria. Previous Timetablist posts have shown a similar extent, from its 20-odd domestic destinations (detailed in the next post)and impressive West-African network to both Anglophone and Francophone cities, to the prestigious, premier routes of Johannesburg, and most especially the wet-lease intercontinental operations to New York and London.

The lone city that doesn't fit into these three categories is Luanda, a twice-weekly regional jet route that was nearly axed earlier this year. Unlike other Arik maps, this fails to detail actual route links; only one single meridian line passes through the headquarters at Lagos, while a second arc seems to indicate the edge of the earth, beyond which lie New York and London.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

ASKY Airlines Network, March/April 2014 (Western Portion)

A continuation of the previous post, looking westward from Lomé, ASKY competes on the regular routes between Abidjan, Bamako, Ouagadougou, Dakar, and Conakry, while also offering stand-alone services such as the very rare Monrovia (Spriggs Payne)-Bissau service, which unfortunately was realigned to link to Conakry, one of a number of route realignments announced shortly after this issue of the magazine came out.

Speaking of Lusophone links, as with the previous post, the map disproportionately displays the distant destinations of mother-carrier Ethiopian Airlines, here advertising the relatively new Lomé-Rio de Janeiro/São Paulo services. Unfortunately, the Rio portion of this operation was unsuccessful, even in the midst of the World Cup and the imminent Olympics, Ethiopian dropped Galeão airport from its Brazilian service less than a month after this publication.

ASKY Airlines Network: March/April 2014 (Eastern portion)

A double-page spread at the back of ASKY Airlines' in-flight magazine from earlier this year: while the airline's primary hub is in Lomé and its strongest presence is across the west coast, the carrier is firmly established into the Congo basin, stretching as far south as Brazzaville, Pointe-Noire and Kinshasa. There is actually quite an operation out of Libreville, it seems, with links to Lagos and what is apparently the only connection to Yaoundé (in a now-typical network model; few ASKY destinations are linked to only one other city). 

The sole connection to Bangui appears to be Douala, which is partially plunged into the spine of the magazine, as is Abuja, which seems to connect up to N'Djamena, the airline's northeasternmost city, aside from the shamrock-green codeshare flight to the superhub of its parent company, Ethiopian: Addis Ababa appears on the map at upper right, somewhere in distant Chad, if the map were to scale. 

The next post features the western portion of the map. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Air France: Paris-Douala-Brazzaville, September 1960

Riding the Gulf-of-Guinea gust of yesterday's post, we begin July with a September-stamped envelope: the announcement by Air France of its upgrading of the Paris-Douala-Brazzaville flight to a brand-new Boeing 707. The celebrated aircraft is gracefully championed in an elongated graphic element at top left, with the multisyllablic INTERCONTINENTAL linking “Boeing” and “Air France.”

In more recent years, Air France has served each city non-stop from CDG with B777s and A330s. Several other African airlines link Brazzaville with Douala.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Air Gabon: External and Internal Networks, early- to mid-1980s

This is a partial repost of one the delightful gems that feature with astonishing regularity at our fellow airline timetable blog, Airline Memorabilia: An un-dated, un-specified brochure of Air Gabon, guessed at to be from the early 1980s, and corresponding well to other artifacts posted here in the past of the now-defunct Gabonese flag carrier. Surely the international network are usual suspects: Lomé, Cotonou, Abidjan, and Dakar, and even at its tiny scale the world map shows a clump of electrical cords plugged in from Libreville to Marseille, Nice, Geneva, and surely Paris, and probably Rome.

Gabon was so French that it even had its own Air Inter: Air Inter Gabon, which apparently operated the circuit board at right: a staggeringly numerous network of intereur destinations—there appear to be nearly 30 in the New England-sized nation. Unfortunately, due the resolution of the file, the exact list of cities can only be guessed at comparing a map of the country with the graphic. Even The Encyclopedia of African Airlines chronicles only a handful of them. Clearly the coastal petrol station of Port-Gentil is linked along the coast, and the other coastal cities are almost certainly Iguela and Tchibanga.

There is an evident triskelion of air routes converging at the extreme southeast of the forested country, which is surely the city of Franceville and barely but clearly the very nearby center of Moanda is also shown. While larger towns such as Lambaréné and northernmost Oyem are unquestionably shown here as well as Bitam, Koulamoutou, Makokou, Mayoumba, and Mouila, but there were at least a dozen others at the time. Only a higher-res graphic would shed light.

Thanks as always to the generosity of the first-rate Airline Memorabilia blog for uncovering and sharing this unique item. 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Toumaï Air Tchad: Weekly Schedule, March 2005

The weekly schedule of little Toumaï Air Tchad, the de-facto state carrier of the Republic of Chad, in early 2005. What might not be immediately evident, but is nonetheless a curious feature of this schedule, is that it does not actually mention N'Djamena, the country's capital, only significant city, and base of operations for the airline, by name. It is just presumed that each flight originates and returns to the international airport, the "NDJ" in the upper cell, near the vol, is the only written indication.

The only domestic destination, served twice-weekly, is the ancient imperial city of Abéché, now Chad's fourth-largest city, located in the eastern-central region of this enormous country. Tuesday-Sunday is dedicated to a Cotonou-Douala-Bangui operation, while Thursdays and Saturdays the airline reaches Brazzaville, via Douala or Bangui.  There are no flights on Wednesdays, and Friday has an additional operation to Niamey. There is no service to neighboring Sudan, Libya, or Nigeria.

The airline has had a troubled history, having been banned not only by the European Union but its own National regulators after a damning IATA safety report, and it is largely inactive at present. That hasn't prevented some from being enthusiastic and optimistic about the carrier.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Cameroon Airlines network, May 1975

Yet another gem from Timetable Images, this vintage artifact shows the extent of Cameroon Airline's operations from May 1975, at the height of the era when the airline adopted its psychedelically sweeping script.

Unlike yesterday's post, showing the domestic network, here Douala takes center stage, with three intercontinental offerings: direct to Paris, direct to Marseille then Paris, and Rome-Paris and Nice-Paris. Curiously, the cover above differs from the inside Timetable, showing Geneva, and not Nice.

To the west, a classic West African coastal route hops twice-weekly to Lagos, Cotonou and Abidjan before leaping to end at Dakar; there's also a tiny jump to nearby Malabo (also absent from the index inside). A short southernly operation links Libreville and Brazzaville. The only international service from Yaoundé appears to be to Bangui. Lastly, and interestingly, the well-emphasized pan-Cameroonian interieur operation up the spine of the crown-craned country, Ngaoundéré-Garoua-Maroua, terminating at N'Djamena.

Special thanks to the incredible Timetable Image blog run by Björn Larsson, where credit is due for this item. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Regular Domestic Flights of Cameroon Airlines, c.1977

The domestic operations of Cameroon Airlines, as published in the "Transport" chapter of an old promotional hardback profile of the central African nation, c.1977. The nation looks dashingly dinosaurish as always, the rounded edges of its peculiar profile squared off in an early computer graphic program.

Interestingly, it is Yaoundé which appears to be the major hub; bigger, more commercial Douala is an after-thought in the lower-left corner of the country, looking no more important than tiny Tiko.  However, through some oversight, the capital city is not shown as featuring an international airport. Douala does not participate in the Garoua central air artery, which links Maroua and Yagoua and terminates at the Chadian capital, N'Djamena, the only non-domestic city shown on the map.

The information is quite similar to the airline's own literature from the same period (published here in 2011), with slight changes in domestic webbing.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Ceiba Intercontinental: the Malabo-Madrid schedule, 2013

A web advertisement for the Equatoguinean state carrier, Ceiba Intercontinental, which currently limits its operations to connecting the tiny, oil-rich island state to its linguistic and colonial capital, Madrid. The Wikipedia article lists a number of other destinations, which recursively references Timetablist's earlier post of Ceiba's schedule from 2011 as proof of its wider reach, although the Wikipedia post supposes the airline to fly to Sao Paulo, Brazil, which it does not at all do. The airline's website, from whence the 2011 table originated, is currently out of service, so that doesn't help clarify the matter, either. The Malabo-Madrid serves is at least twice-weekly, with a wet-leased B777, as the airline itself is black-listed by the European Union and banned from the European airspace.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Flight Connections from São Tomé & Príncipe, c.2009

A lost fragment of the internet, this orphan gif, a visual explanation of flight connections to tiny São Tomé & Príncipe, on not-particularly-recent vintage.

The microscopic archipelago is hardly a hub of anything, other than delicious and rare cocoa, but on this map it is the crossroads of the center of the map, the closest republic to where the prime meridian meets the equator. Or, at least, the Lusophone eastern hemisphere.

Luanda and Lisbon are linked, the former via TAAG Angolan Airlines, which still to this day continues on to Sal de Cabo Verde, the latter via TAP (of course) but something else called STP Airways, the acronym denoting the little-known state carrier. Lagos and Libreville are also looped in, the first via Ceiba, the Equatoguinean state carrier, the latter via something simply labelled 'air service.' How perfectly vague.

Douala in nearby Cameroon is served by SCD, an unknown acronym, which may be related to African Connection Airways, which apparently provides air service on the island which may, or may not, include Malabo, Port Harcourt, Brazzaville, Port-Gentil, Pointe-Noire and even Bangui, if its own map is to be believed. TAP is apparently re-routing its services as of July 1st via Accra.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

United Arab Airlines: Twice Weekly from Alexandria to Athens, c.1960

From the same French shipping news as last week's Alitalia post comes this somewhat smaller, less jet-age advert for United Arab Airlines, for its twice-weekly trans-Mediterreanean service aboard a "de Luxe" Super Viscount from Alexandria to Athens; still a reasonable schedule at just two hours flying time. Today, fifty years later, the route is still alive, but now served by an Egyptair Express Embraer 170 and the flight time has been trimmed down to 1:25.

Timetablist has not featured United Arab Airlines since its infancy back in November 2009.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Gambia Airways Timetable, July 1991

Staying with the previous post in the Gambian capital of Banjul, a rare artifact featured on the excellent, encyclopedic Airline Memorabilia website, this tidbit of West African aviation history: the seven-city weekly flight schedule of all-too-brief Gambia Airways, effective July 1991.

The type-written table shows a six-day per week connection to neighboring Dakar, which reaches further as the week swells, hopping to Praia in the Cabo Verde Islands on Thursday, and culminating in a hectic Friday, with the morning flight heading southward to tiny Bissau, and the returning service passing through Banjul and stretching to the network's northernmost extent at Nouakchott in the afternoon.

Saturday afternoon is also busy, with a southeasterly service to Conakry and Freetown. Sunday sees the airline return to Nouakchott, perhaps a somewhat curious choice for the only city besides Dakar to be served more than once per week.

The schedule was apparently not commercially successful, as Gambia Airways was extremely short-lived, the last picture of one of its Japanese turboprops dates from October 1994, and very little other information exists on the internet.

Special thanks to Airline Memorabilia for this featured item. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Royal Air Maroc: Monrovia to Banjul, February 2010

Among the intra-African services provided by Royal Air Maroc are a number of regional flights between West African cities, as many capitals are paired together, creating an intermediate stop between the coast and Casablanca, and a chance to ferry passengers across these local borders, something which still today often has far too few options.

Here is an example from early 2010: Flight AT598 from Monrovia Robertsfield to Banjul, Gambia. Note the ungodly hours of 1AM to 2:40AM and a return at 3:05AM to 4:45AM; apparently this is to set the schedule for connecting flights at the Casablanca hub to Europe. Since this itinerary was printed, the service linking Robertsfield has been moved up slightly to be closer to daily hours, and now connects via Freetown's Lungi Airport.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Royal Air Maroc: Domestic Destinations, 2011

Like its African network map, Royal Air Maroc doesn't designate the routes in its domestic network, although it operates significant bases at other major cities such as Rabat, Marrakesh, Tangier, Fez, and Agadir to both domestic and international destinations.

What's more notable is what the airline considers to be domestic: here, the realm of the kingdom clearly extends deep down the Saharan Atlantic coast well into territory claimed by the Sahrawi Republic. Tan-Tan is the southernmost RAM destination in Morocco itself; Laâyoune (styled by Timetablist by the more common El Aaiún) and Dakhla, the ancient Spanish whaling port of Villa Cisneros, are claimed by the breakaway movement.

Royal Air Maroc: The African destinations, 2011

Le Réseau Royal Air Maroc du Afrique shows the impressive extension of the airline's West and Central African operations as they stood in mid-2011. From Nouakchott to Niamey, Banjul to Brazzaville, Conakry to Kinshasa, RAM successfully bridges both the Anglophone and Francophone checkerboard of the region.

The map lacks route lines, which would be particularly helpful as many of these destinations are linked together before reaching the home airport at Casablanca (Freetown-Monrovia, for instance). Also, to connect with European and other intercontinental flights, many sub-Saharan cities are served at odd hours of the night—not the most convenient schedule, but for many of these cities, one of the few options out of town.