Saturday, July 19, 2014

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. 

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