Monday, January 30, 2012

Spanair: International Routes from Barcelona, 2011

Where the previous post's graphic of Spanair's reach from El Prat was fanciful, this is more straightforward: a map of the wide array of Spanair non stops from Barcelona, reaching three continents, including two Sub-Saharan routes to Banjul and Bamako. Prior to its demise, Spanair was expanding rapidly across Africa, although the airline's Wikipedia entry, which lists Dakar and Malabo (but not Banjul) overstates the reach, and seems to conflate Air Europa (which formerly served Malabo and still flies to Dakar) and Spanair. It matters less now, in the wake of Spanair's demise; whatever the destinations, tens of thousands are currently stranded.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Spanair: The Network from Barcelona, 2011

This hip, fanciful artwork, prominently displayed inside the terminal at El Prat Airport in Barcelona last year, was not enough to alter the fortunes of Spanair, which ceased operations this past weekend. This unique graphic was celebrated in the design press for its storybook celebrations of a score of cities, each highlighted with its own landmark or symbol in a palette-- Brussels with its Atomium, Cairo marked by its pyramids, Frankfurt by the Commerzbank Tower, etc. The spaghetti line connections are for appearance, not accuracy, and no underlying geography governs the array of cities across the canvas.

The map features many of Spanair's domestic destinations, including several in the Canary Islands, which has long been a major focus of Spanair's operations. Most of the other cities are part of Spanair's European network, which stretched from the Eastern Mediterranean (Istanbul, Tel Aviv) to northwestern Europe and Scandinavia (Spanair had at times been as much as 20% owned by SAS). A handful of the destinations featured are intercontinental cities which could be reached only via Spanair's Star Alliance partnerships, such as Montreal, Toronto, New York, Philadelphia and Singapore.

Images via and NOTCOT.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

VARIG: Worldwide Network, c.1975

This undersized image file is a bit difficult to read, but is yet an informative mid-1970s route map of the Brazilian carrier VARIG. A conventional wall map overlaid with red route lines makes for an unoriginal and underwhelming document, but it even in its somewhat dull and diminutive format reveals some interesting information, especially the concentration of routes from Rio de Janeiro, whereas since this era the aviation action has decidedly shifted south to São Paulo.

Long trans-equatorial non stops to Miami and New York are juxtaposed with multistop zigzags such as Rio-Recife-Madrid-Rome-Tel Aviv or Rio-Recife-Paris-Frankfurt/London. The return journey from Iberia stops at Robertsfield, Monrovia-- the only African destination and location for a fatal 1967 VARIG crash on such a route. An Andean mini hub at Lima leads to jags up Mesoamerica, from Panama to Los Angeles.

There seem to be no routes out of Manaus or Brasilia, but this is a classic trap of cartography of this style, where it is hard to discern, especially from a distance, if a route is merely passing over a dot on a map, or pit stopping.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

TACV Cabo Verde Airlines Timetable, November 2011

It doesn't get much simpler than an Excel Spreadsheet to publish a timetable. The above Flugplan is currently still available on TACV (Transportes Aéreos de Cabo Verde)'s German-language website, which is targeted toward Teutonic tourists out of Frankfurt.

Despite its diminutive size, TACV is a quad-continental carrier, with additional European flights to Lisbon, Paris and Amsterdam, and the Wikipedia list of destinations, updated at the same time as this schedule, also lists Nice, secondary cities in Portugal, and several cities in Spain and Italy. A single transatlantic 757 service from Praia to Boston Logan is shown above, bridges the island to the world's largest Cape Verdean community, centered around southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Closer to the islands themselves, TACV provides one of the few scheduled services to Lusophone Guinea-Bissau, linking the tiny capital Bissau with Dakar, and also serving Freetown and Banjul on the mainland--although interestingly the African schedule is not included in the above matrix. Lastly, a single link to South America's massive Portuguese-speaking population is achieved by landing at the closest Brazilian city, Fortaleza.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

SATA Air Açores Network, 2011.

Aside from SATA Internaçional's impressive charter and scheduled transocean services, shown in the previous post, which stretch from the Pacific to the Baltic, SATA's inter island services extend southward to Madeira, and Las Palmas in the Canary Islands, and across each Azore, linking with the principal cities of Portugal proper: Lisbon, of course, but also Faro and Oporto.

Monday, January 23, 2012

SATA Internaçional Network, 2011

As mentioned in the two previous posts on TAP's 1974 network, the contemporary situation off the Straits of Gibraltar finds much of the service between the Azores archipelago and the rest of the world handled by SATA Air Açores/SATA Internaçional, whose two arms wrap impressively from San Francisco Bay to Stockholm. At the center of this world is a magnifying glass enlargement of the Azores themselves, as well as Madeira; exhaustive services between and within the islands themselves-- the center of the map will be detailed in the next post.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

TAP Air Portugal Network, 1974: Detail of European Routes.

The taut routes of TAP Air Portugal's European and Atlantic network accentuate Lisbon's position betwixt the large cities of the northwestern continent and the warmer islands of the Portuguese realm in the Azores and Madeira. Much of these latter operations are now handled not by TAP but by SATA Air Açores, as well as numerous low-cost and charter carriers. Yet in the 1970s, the state carrier still undertook linking even tiny airports such as Porto Santo and Santa Maria with its mainline operations. Porto Santo and Las Palmas are no longer served today, although TAP has since expanded into eastern and southern Europe and maintains service to all of the continental cities shown here.

TAP Air Portugal Network, 1974

The last from this month's series from the remarkable Flight International Magazine archives available at flight comes this magazine-made map of TAP Air Portugal's four-continent network on the eve of independence for the Lusophone colonies of Africa. Maputo is still Lourenço Marques, and for that matter Salisbury is not yet Harare. Interestingly, the caption of the map mention's prospects of 'improved relations with black Africa' in hopes of ending the "bulge" route which avoids banned West African airspace--similar to the constrictions that Apartheid-era South African Airways endured.

Interestingly, the mid-70s TAP is thin on its routes to Brazil, merely two destinations, with no service to Sao Paulo, Natal, Belem, or Brasilia. Recife is misspelled-- merely the most glaring cartographic fault, which lazily plots northeastern US cities far inland and European capitals at random.

Luanda appears as a major scissor station, linking the homeland with five southern African cities, as well as a boomerang connection to the tiny São Tomé e Príncipe archipelago. A handful of North Atlantic routes stretch from Lisbon and the Açores to New York, Montreal, and Boston, where large communities from Portugal, Cape Verde, and the Azores reside. Direct service to the US East Coast is offered from both Ponta Delgada (here referred to as Miguel--on the island of São Miguel) and Terceira, as SATA International still does today.

Today, TAP has more routes to Brazil, and maintains its colonial connections (but not its web of services) in Africa, but has all but abandoned the trans-Atlantic trade.

The following post will detail TAP's European services shown above.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Emirates Network, 1989

The extend of the toddler Emirates Airline, c.1989, courtesy of the wonderful archive of

Similar to yesterday's post on Thai Airways, the dominant colors are pale yellow with thick black route lines, although this map features the continents, with the oceans in blue, and also the route network lacks the trapezoidal circuitry of the Thai Airways map.

Not that such graphic gymnastics are required here: diminutive Emirates, which now overpowers service between India and Europe, linking scores of cities in each region, at this time served only two Western European airports: Frankfurt and London, the first not even nonstop, but via Istanbul; which although surely at the time the latter not even Heathrow, but less-prestigious Gatwick (an airport Emirates has since vacated).

North America, where as of mid-2012 Emirates will offer nonstop service to more than half a dozen airports, is not even included on this map. Neither any part of Asia east of Bengal, much less Australia, to which Emirates is now a dominant competitor on the Kangaroo Route. Despite its upstart status and small size, Emirates was already on the move, as indicated by the map's caption. If the same section of the earth's surface were the focus of an Emirates map today, it would show only a slim majority of the super carrier's six-continent operations.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Thai Airways International: Worldwide Network, 1985

Although not the size and reach of the present day, Thai Airways at the end of the 1980s already at the impressive reach, as the sharp angled geometry of this unique route map so dashingly illustrates: from the half-hexagon of the Tokyo-Seattle-Dallas/Fort Worth jaunt, to the fingers spreading across the Middle East, although these hit on contemporary destinations such as Riyadh, Dhahran, and Kuwait instead of the 21st century trifecta of Doha, Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

From here, the lines continue west, extending into a knot of European destinations, among them Athens, Rome, and Copenhagen--Thai is still today virtually the only Asian presence at Kastrup. Despite the angularity of the route lines, the relative positions of cities are generally true, with the lone exception of Muscat, shown somewhere north of Baghdad in an offshoot of the link between Karachi and Paris.

Closer to the center of its world, the map's thick marks show multiple links across East and South Asia, with dense operations particularly in Hong Kong, Taipei and Singapore as well as smaller cities from Kathmandu to Osaka, as well as four cities in Australia. Thai Airways lived up to the "International" in its name, years before it reached New York and Los Angeles.

Route map from the abundant archives of

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Thai Airways: The Domestic Network, November 2008

The domestic and regional reach of Thai Airways, as shown in its in-flight guide as of November 2008. Almost all of the routes fan out from Bangkok, although Phuket and Udon Thani are connected to the northern capital of Chiang Mai. The only trans-border destination shown here is Phnom Penh.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

American Airlines Announces Japan Airlines's New Dreamliner Service from Tokyo to Boston, April 2012

Typical of American Airlines's outdated branding, this email announcement to frequent fliers, despite its exciting news, makes for mediocre viewing. Not much thought was put into the visuals, a Disneyesque combination of faux-calligraphic typeface and dull-blue photograph of a snow-capped Mount Fuji. Its obvious from this that Tokyo is the destination at hand.

Indeed, Japan Air Lines's announcement of nonstop service between Narita and Boston, the first ever such connection, and the first nonstop flight of an Asian carrier into Logan in over ten years (from the days when Korean Air ran a Seoul-Boston-Washington Dulles triangle), is one of the most exciting develops in intercontinental service to the US that has been announced for 2012. That a brand-new B787 will run the route is even more compelling. Yet American somehow fumbles again, with its incorrect statement that "we now offer the first nonstop route between Boston and Asia" which also confusingly suggests that silver American metal will make the journey, when American is far from enjoying any brand-new Dreamliners, and anyway most passengers would strongly prefer JAL to AA.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Korean Air: A380 Service to New York and Los Angeles, 2011

A luscious Online banner advertisement boasts of Korean Air's superjumbo service to its to principal American gateways: Los Angeles and New York-JFK, from its megahub at Seoul-Incheon. The banner ad links to more detailed press release on the airline's website, shown here also. Service to New York began in August and Los Angeles in October. Initially, the double-decker flights were thrice-weekly, but became daily later in the fall of 2011. The language, "where dreams are made," recalls Korean Air's widespread television commercials, featured previously. The press release also details the airline's plan for regional A380 service to Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Bangkok.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Lufthansa: Frankfurt-Lagos-Accra, May 1976

This first-flight cover from Lufthansa German Airlines emphasizes the aircraft nearly as much as the route: both the envelope's blood-red graphics and the cancellation stamp feature the unmistakeable profile of the DC-10, which made its way from Frankfurt to Accra and onward to Lagos in May 1976. Interestingly, it was only in 2009, when service was normally with an Airbus A340, that Accra and Lagos were delinked in Lufthansa's system, each getting a dedicated daily non-stop flight.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Lufthansa: Frankfurt-Douala-Kinshasa, 1985

A large photographic representation of a mask dominates this first-flight cover from Lufthansa, stamped in the Republic of Cameroon (note the charging Rhinoceros on the cancellation) and addressed to the airport in Kinshasa, the second, trans-equatorial leg of LH556's A300 service from Frankfurt to Zaïre via Douala.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Lufthansa: Accra-Kinshasa, 1983.

An Intra-African Erstflug for Lufthansa German Airlines, a Boeing 707 flight from Kinshasa, Zaïre to Accra Ghana. Presumably the quad jet roared onward to Frankfurt, but no mention of that here. A red, square cancellation stamp shows the aircraft at the angle of final approach.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Swissair: Zürich-Dakar-Bamako, 1996

A pair of fanciful envelopes celebrating the inaugural roundtrip of Swissair's Zürich-Dakar-Bamako and return service, in association with its then-sister carrier, Sabena. The post details the aircraft as a snub-nosed A310-322 wide body, although the only decor recalls the craft of Sahelien Africa. Swiss International Air Lines does not serve West Africa any longer, although Sabena's successor, Brussels Airlines, serves Dakar, Bamako, and a dozen other West African cities.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Swissair: Zürich-Genève-Libreville, May 1971

Three masks for three cities: the first flight for Swissair from Geneva to Libreville (with some sort of origin point at Zürich) on 13 May 1971. As with other first day covers from Swissair, the lower-right has a United Nations routing number, with the postage and cancellation stamp also of UN designation. There is no information on aircraft, or whether there were other stops between Geneva and M'Ba International.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Swissair: Genéve-Douala, April 1976

It isn't clear if this route is different than the Zürich-Douala route, which was launched in November of the same year, and memorialized on a first day cover which was featured on Timetablist some years ago. The dates are slightly different, and as are the envelopes-- here a bird mask juts out across the white space, its concentric circles almost reminiscent of an air force insignia. Despite coming from a Francophone canton to a French-speaking country, the address spells Kamerun in the German style. United Nations postage and cancellation marks fill out the upper-right.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

UTA French Airlines: First DC-8 Flight from Paris to Douala, September 1960

An early jet-age connection to equatorial Africa: the French overseas airline, UTA, which was then, prior to its merger with TAI, operating as Union Aeromaritime de Transport (UAT) but even at this time had its distinctive purple color scheme, carried this envelope to the recently-independent Cameroon in September 1960, linking Paris with Douala aboard the first flight of a DC-8 "jetliner", as the thick cancellation stamp makes clear, although there is nearly as much handwriting on the paper as printed stamp, perhaps the result of collector's cataloging.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Air Gabon: First Flight from Libreville to Paris, June 1977

Le Grand Derrière of a massive B747 greets the receiver of this envelope, celebrating the premier vol of Air Gabon's Libreville-Paris service on 3 June 1977. The Eiffel Tower's outline on the green skyline of the illustration is diminutive by comparison. The bottom of the envelope is also nicely detailed, with a cheat line and large-format insignia of the airline, including its dashing but cartoonish green parrot emblem.

A more front-facing jumbo jet features on the postage stamp, printed in matching Gabonese colors specially to mark the first day. Surely, this economically-dubious but coveted connection was the flagship route of the state carrier, as hinted by the delightful disco-era block-and-shadow letters at upper left, calling out the newly-linked capitals.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Cameroon Airlines: Monday Service Douala-Lagos-Paris, April 1994

A phone card of some 18 years vintage, which advertises late-classic Cameroon Airlines, specifically its Monday service from Douala to Paris via Lagos, on a massive B747. Possible onward service (via connecting carriers, it doesn't explicitly mention) is offered to over 200 destinations, while the map samples Frankfurt, London, and New York. However, Paris's location is more accurate if it were Prague; "Francfort" is shown as being somewhere in Western Kazakhstan; while "Londres" is placed about two-thirds of the way between Helsinki and Murmansk. L'envol sur le Monde, the tagline beckons-- "take-off to the world."

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Camair Co: Systemwide Timetable, Fall 2011

The three pages of the ephebic Cameroon Airlines Corporation, the 10-month old national airline of Cameroon, from the previous fall. Camair has already managed to cover a wide swath of Central Africa, from Dakar to inland N'djamena and Bangui. Lagos is virtually the only Anglophone city served. Nearby Libreville and Malabo are also linked to Yaounde and Douala; a multi-day shuttle service runs between these two principal cities. There are also a handful of domestic routes. A wide body service to Paris-CDG has also commenced (the airline has a pair of B767 widebodies).

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Air Panama Timetable, April to October 1985

A one-page, one-color timetable from Air Panama Internacional, midyear 1985. Mutliweekly flights connected Panama City with Bogata, Caracas, Guayaquil, Lima, and Mexico City. Nonstop service ran daily between Tocumen International Airport and Miami. According to the Wikipedia entry, Air Panama reached as far as New York's JFK, as well as Guatemala City, with a variety of aircraft, including the DC-10 and B757, prior to its demise at the time of the American invasion of Panama in 1989.