Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Hewa Bora Airways Network, c.2009

Air travel is essential in the Congo, a country the size of Western Europe with fewer than 3,000km of paved roads. Despite this necessity, and although it is estimated to be home to a population larger than Germany, the war-scarred, impoverished nation has very few consumers of air transport. The country has not had a consistent candidate for national carrier since the days of Air Zaïre. In the decade since the switch from Zaïre to the Democratic Republic of Congo, this mantle has been held aloft on the wings of the curiously-named Hewa Bora Airways (Swahili for "Fresh Air").

HBA flies a mixed fleet, mostly MD-82s, across the massive equatorial state, connecting the major cities and economic centers (Lubumbashi of copper, Mbuji Mayi of diamonds, Goma of tantalum) of this well-endowed territory with its sprawling capital, Kinshasa. Kisangani, the city of Stanley Falls, is linked with Goma, capital of the great lakes region in the far east. According to the airline's website, a number of new domestic destinations have come into the fold since this map was drawn, as well as Entebbe.

Hewa Bora also hops from N'Djili airport across the mile-wide Congo River to the neighboring Congolese capital of Brazzaville on the opposite shore. Johannesburg is reached via the Katangan copperbelt conurbation of Lubumbashi.

The map shows a reach to northerly latitudes linking the world's other large francophone capitals, Paris via Brussels-- although there is no record of this occurring, and HBA has long been on EU's list of banned carriers, as are all airlines domiciled in the DRC.

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