Sunday, November 17, 2013

ASKY Airlines Schedule, April 2013

The complete network schedule for ASKY Airlines from this spring, helpfully published in their in-flight magazine, detailing their weekly timetable for flights between twenty cities in West and Central Africa, from Banjul to Bamako to Brazzaville.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Ethiopian Airlines: the Gateway Route, c.1965

Decades before it spanned to five continents, Ethiopian Airlines was still a leading carrier, yet with a more modest reach. This vintage advert from a mid-century magazine emphasizes Ethiopian's Frankfurt-Athens-Cairo-Asmara-Addis Ababa-Nairobi axis, flown overnight aboard the luxurious DC-6B. The Queen of Sheba's secondary east-west routes to Khartoum, Djibouti and Aden are also shown.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Ethiopian Airlines: The West African destinations, Spring 2013

Nearly twenty Ethiopian flights stretch across the African continent to points in Western and Southern Africa.

Ethiopian Airlines: The East African Destinations, Spring 2013

Of the more than four dozen African cities that Ethiopian serves, it is particularly strong in its home region of East Africa.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Ethiopian Airlines: Long-haul to three continents, Spring 2013

Even before it reached Brazil in July, the global network of Ethiopian Airlines spread long-haul routes from Addis Ababa to three other continents, including three cities on Mainland China (Beijing, Hangzhou and Guangzhou), plus Hong Kong; a new route to Kuala Lumpur via Bangkok, two cities in India (Delhi and Mumbai), and two cities in Italy (Rome and Milan), plus five other European cities: London, Paris, Brussels, Frankfurt, and Stockholm. The route to Rome continues on to Washington Dulles, and there is a new non-stop to Toronto on a 787 Dreamliner.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Ethiopian: Three times weekly from Addis Ababa to Ndola, April 2013

Ethiopian's neck-and-neck race against Kenya Airways to cover all of Africa has spread to a second airport in Zambia: the northern town of Ndola, gateway to Zambia's famed copperbelt region. Ethiopian serves the town non-stop from Addis Ababa's Bole Airport three times per week.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Ethiopian Airlines: Three times per week from Addis Ababa to Blantyre, April 2013

Ethiopian Airlines has been in fierce competition with its east African rival, Kenya Airways, to connect the continent through its hub at Addis Ababa's Bole Airport. Earlier this year, it launched flights to Blantyre, Malawi's commercial capital and second largest city, which is served by only handful of airlines. Malawian aviation has suffered greatly this year due to the indefinite suspension of Air Malawi. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Ethiopian Airlines Addis Ababa-Lomé-Rio de Janeiro-Sao Paulo, July 2013

While no Brazilian carrier currently serves West Africa, as of July of this year the South American cone and the Western coast of Africa are connected via one of the world's more unusual routes. Ethiopian Airlines connected a fifth continent to its 55-year old network when a brand-new B787 Dreamliner took flight from tiny Lomé, Togo to Rio de Janeiro, with a continuing service to Sao Paulo, Brazil. Lome is also the home base for Ethiopian-affiliated super-regional ASKY Airlines. The Dreamliner apparently also serves the transcontinental Lomé-Addis Ababa section; ET506/507 spans half the globe thrice-weekly.

Friday, October 25, 2013

VARIG: South American Network, 1973

Brazil dominates commercial aviation in South America today, but four decades ago Rio de Janeiro was the primary gateway to the continent's southern cone, with Sao Paulo just another way station on the routes to Asuncion and Santiago, without, apparently so much as a link to Montevideo and Buenos Aires, at least not on VARIG. Manaus is a more important gateway, with connections to Bogota and Mexico City via Panama, as well as an Andean-hopper terminating at Iquitos, Peru. Recife and Salvador, and Belem all have flights into Europe, with the latter also linked to Cayenne and Paramaraibo, as well as Miami.

See the previous post for the global view of the VARIG route map of 1973. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

VARIG: Worldwide Network, 1973

The International route network of VARIG Brazilian Airlines in 1973 is a fascinating glimpse into a bygone world of flag carriers. Far more European cities are linked directly or indirectly with Brazil by its main airline than today, an indecipherable tangle of routes connects even tertiary airports such as Geneva and Copenhagen. The network funnels together at Rio de Janeiro, with Sao Paulo a tiny dot in Rio's shadow; today Sao Paulo is by far the dominant gateway into South America. Also note the southern Atlantic routes, particularly to Lagos and Cape Town. Ironic that four decades later this rising economic giant does boast a global carrier with an equal reach on continental Europe or Africa.

See the following post for a detail on the South American section of VARIG's network. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

TACV Network, c.2011

An original design by shows the network of Cape Verdean flag carrier, TACV. Few airlines could boast such an impressive size-to-reach ratio, with the tiny company connecting four continents on both sides of the Atlantic. From Praia, the national capital, flights hop to nearby Dakar and Bissau on the mainland; the largest regional hub and the nearby Lusophone capital.

The motherland is well served also, with three flights to the Iberian peninsula in total: to the two busiest Portuguese airports, Lisbon and Porto, as well as Madrid. Paris, Amsterdam, and Milan are all served from Sal, with Munich connected via a stop in Las Palmas.

In the New World, the giant Portuguese-speaking Brazil is linked from the closest large city, Fortaleza, while larger, closer airports in North America are bypassed in favor of Boston, hub of America's largest Portuguese-speaking immigrant communities; New England boasts the largest Cape Verdean population outside of the islands themselves. TACV uses a B757 on the route.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Munich Departures, August 2013

The last departures before midnight on a Sunday evening at Munich's airport in August of this year reveals many of Bavaria's more exotic visitors: South African Airways to Johannesburg, and Turkish to Izmir, and Emirates to Dubai, with long-haul services by Lufthansa from its second-biggest hub to Sao Paulo, Shanghai and Hong Kong. Of shorter duration is an Easyjet hop to London Gatwick. Before midnight there are two flights to Moscow, one on S7 to Domodedovo and one on Aeroflot to Sheremetyevo. There is an El Al flight to Tel Aviv. There are also charter services to Palma de Mallorca and Antalya.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Arrivals at Dresden International, August 2013

The television arrivals screen at Dresden airport in Germany on a Friday in August of 2013, showing many internal flights on Lufthansa from Munich and Frankfurt, and on Air Berlin from Düsseldorf.  Easyjet has a single service on the board from BaselAir Berlin also flies in from Antalya, Turkey, and Germanwings arrives from Cologne with an earlier service in from Corfu, which is not the sole Greek Isle connection shown on the board, as there is a later charter arrival on Pegasus from Kos.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Turkish Airlines: the German destinations, 2013

In addition to its impressive array of African destinationsTurkish Airlines, now the world's seventh largest carrier, is heavily focussed on services to Germany, principally given the large number of Turkish immigrants, so it offers flights to a dozen German cities, in many cases offering some of the few services outside of the European Union from smaller airports such as Bremen, and tiny Friedrichshafen on the Bodensee. Most flights are to Istanbul Ataturk. Larger urban centers, including Düsseldorf, Munich, Berlin and Frankfurt host multiple, daily operations to a half dozen Turkish cities, including leisure destinations like Antalya as well as secondary urban centers such as Adana and Trabzon.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Turkish Airlines: the African destinations, 2013

It's surprisingly anachronistic to find a printed timetable in 2013, complete with glossy dust-jacket and newspaper-thin black-and-white sheets inside. Yet Turkish Airlines still apparently publishes such a volume, which displays the breadth of what is suddenly the world's sixth largest airline.

To illustrate the density of this nascent megacarrier, the timetable shows several maps of the airline's vast, pentacontinental network. Here is the astonishing variety of the airline's destinations in Africa, where it has eclipsed its many European rivals in terms of number of cities served, and is well ahead of even the Gulf super-carriers in its sub-Saharan system, as it has landed in airports as uncommon as Nouakchott and Niamey, Kilimanjaro and Kinshasa, Mombasa and Mogadishu. The arrival of a Turkish B737-800 in the Somali capital last year made global headlines, and more recently a Turkish firm won the contract to administer the airport. Note the Turkish spelling as Djibouti as Cibuti.

Further expansion is underway, another Turkish B737-800 will land at N'Djamena via Kano before year's end.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

South African Airways: the Southern African destinations 2013

Following from the previous post, this promotional brochure shows the ease of connecting to the southern cone of Africa from South African Airways's gateways in Europe: Munich, Frankfurt, and London Heathrow, via Johannesburg. With the map superimposed, these long-haul legs seem mercifully short. Cities in Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Swaziland, Mozambique and Malawi are shown, as well as the airline's many domestic destinations. In most cases, especially outside of South Africa, the proposition is to fly from Europe to OR Tambo, passing over a final destination, before tracking back to reach it on a local connection.

Friday, September 27, 2013

South African Airways: the African Network, 2013

Troubled, loss-making state carrier South African Airways, whose past has been covered extensively on Timetablist, continues to dominate its home continent as one of the largest African carriers. As shown in this flyer circulated at Munich airport earlier this year, the airline still has success connecting passengers via its antipodean hub at Johannesburg OR Tambo, which remains Africa's busiest airport.

Beyond the southernmost cone, detailed in the next post, SAA serves sixteen cities in Western, Central and Eastern Africa, from Dakar to Dar Es Salaam, including smaller airports such as Brazzaville, Bujumbura, Cotonou and Pointe-Noire. However, the airline by-passes the Sahel and Sahara on its way to its new remaining European gateways.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

KLM: Nairobi to Amsterdam, April 30, 2013

The route of KLM Flight #KL566 from Nairobi to Amsterdam, a B747-400 which flew right through the notch of Sudan and Libya, as shown on the in-flight video screen, arriving the next morning in Europe. The graphics recall a similar trans-Saharan night flight from Accra from six months earlier.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta Airport International Departures, 30 April 2013, #2

The second screen of the international departures board for NBO on the night of 30 April shows activity through the night at this 24-hour airport; no restrictions on small-hour activity, perhaps because there is so little.

In the 35 minutes before midnight, Kenya Airways has two long-hauls: to Guangzhou via Bangkok, and London-Heathrow. There is a shorter flight to Bujumbura and Kigali.

SWISS leaves for Zürich, one of the last African services for the airline which formerly served a dozen sub-Saharan cities. After an almost two-and-a-half hour pause, Brussels Airlines leaves for Brussels via Kigali. Turkish Airlines takes a dead-zone departure time to fly to Istanbul, a curious time slot, and just before sunrise, Ethiopian operates the first of several daily flights to Addis Ababa.

By daylight, activity picks up. KQ leaves for Johannesburg, and follows in the next hour with departures to Dar Es Salaam, Juba, Yaounde, and a link to Lilongwe and Lusaka. Air Uganda's first flight to Entebbe leaves at the same time. African Express leaves for Berbera and Mogadishu at 7am.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta Airport International Departures, 30 April 2013, #1

The departure board at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 9PM in the 30th of April of this year, showing a squadron of flights across Africa, as well as long-hauls to Europe and Asia.

Of the 13 flights shown, 8 are within Africa, and 5 of those are on Kenya Airways: to Gaborone, Botswana, Johannesburg, and a flight to both Lusaka and Harare, all in Southern Africa. Kenya always flies to nearby Entebbe, one of three airlines offering flights to Uganda's main airport late in the evening, the other being African Express and Air Uganda. there is also a KQ service to Dar Es Salaam at 10:30, an hour after Precision Air's service to the Tanzanian capital.

Outside of Africa, Kenya Airways has evening flights to Mumbai and Dubai, the latter with onward service to Hong Kong, while Emirates has a non-stop to Dubai ten minutes later. This is followed by the 11:15 flight to London Heathrow on British Airways. The KLM flight to Amsterdam, leaving at 22:25, is the only other European flight.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

British Airways: The African Routes, c.2008

British Airways, a conservative carrier steeped in tradition, rarely makes changes, particularly to its unique route map illustration, which looks quite similar to this version from the beginning of the decade. 

The only changes are the loss of direct BA services to Harare, and the absence of the Dakar-Freetown route. The former is still on the map, but only as part of the South African-centered Comair network.

Since this printing, Dar Es Salaam dropped from the schedule just this past March, and only last week BA announced the end of its historic service to Lusaka-- two legacy routes to former colonies that can no longer be commercially justified.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

KLM: First Flight from Amsterdam to Lagos with the MD-11, January 1994

An attractive item from nearly 19 years ago, as KLM was just introducing the MD-11 to its fleet. KLM had served Nigeria for many years, initially with a stop in Kano as part of its earliest trans-African route to Johannesburg, and had served Lagos for several decades. The main event is the upgrading of the route to the shiny new tri-jet, which is both sharply illustrated on the envelope and accurately depicted on the cancellation stamp. Today, although KLM's MD-11 has still been seen in West Africa, an A330 generally does the job.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Nigeria Airways: Domestic Network, November 1981

The most obvious difference in juxtaposing the route map of Nigeria Airways in 1981 with Arik Air in 2012 is the centralization around hubs that has taken place in those decades. Here, the state carrier offered a diversity of linkages between major cities, with an array of flights connecting Kano, Jos, Enugu, Benin City and Kaduna. Even Yola and Markurdi have multiple options (although as with all route networks, the frequency of such flights is not clear).

Aside from the intricacy of this web,  the complete absence of Abuja is obvious. Today, this myriad span of domestic flights has been rationalized around a two-hub system split between Lagos and Abuja. Although airlines worldwide have consolidated into hub-and-spoke systems, it is tempting to see this transition as an allegory for the fate of the federal state and Nigerian society in these ensuing years.

As noted previously, Kano's status as a northern hub and intercontinental gateway has been erased. Note that the Ibadan-Benin City-Calabar service was suspended at the time.

See the previous post for Nigeria Airways's international network from 1981.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Nigeria Airways: International Network, November 1981

In looking from Arik Air's route map from October back to Virgin Nigeria's system from 2009, we can stretch back almost thirty-two years to this representation of the Nigeria Airways network of November 1981, as seen in the old trade publication, Flight International.

There are many similarities, particularly the nearly-identical route line hugging the West African coast to Dakar with a mini-hub at Monrovia. Intercontinentally, there are familiar routes to London and New York.

What is more remarkable, however are the many differences: Long-haul flights to Amsterdam, Rome, and Jeddah, all remarkably emanating out of Kano, with an apparent non-stop to London from Port Harcourt. There is also a trans-African route from Lagos to Calabar to Douala, crossing the heart of the continent to Nairobi, and a link to Libreville from Calabar and Port Harcourt as well. Lastly, a northern flight to Niamey originates in Kano and stops in the sultanate of Sokoto before crossing the border.

Many of these routes no longer exist. Part of this is the decline of Kano as an intercontinental airport, a topic recurring in Timetablist back to its most ancient archives, but is most startling in this earlier Nigeria Airways route map of 1973, when the majority of Nigeria Airway's European routes departed from Kano.  Like many deregulated systems, Nigeria's air services have consolidated, dropping secondary destinations and service from non-hub cities.

The next post will detail the domestic network. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Arik Air: Domestic flights, October 2012

Following on from the previous post, the small corner detail of Arik Air's two-page route map spread shows the domestic operations of the de-facto flag carrier. Here, the airline's signature red and blue colors are used to differentiate operations out of Lagos Murtala Muhammed from flights fanning out of Abuja's Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, which actually has connections to more cities than the much larger commercial capital, acting as a hub in the middle of the country.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Arik Air: International Network, October 2012

The Route Map of Arik Air, now Nigeria's premier airline and flag carrier across the world (despite a red-and-blue color scheme, without a hint of green).

Here, the world of Arik spreads across two pages of Arik's inflight magazine from last October, two three continents.

Compare to an earlier era of three years ago, and Arik's erstwhile rival, Virgin Nigeria, boasted a similar map. Yet Arik actually flies to New York's JFK airport, a destination Virgin Nigeria was never able to reach. In fact, Arik flies daily to three of the four prestige overseas destinations: New York, London-Heathrow (from both Lagos and Abuja), and Johannesburg (Dubai being the fourth, yet to be added). Luanda is also linked.

Arik has a denser West African network, naturally, as is one of the key carriers of the region. Besides the popular Lagos-Accra-Monrovia run and another to Freetown and Banjul, the airline has a francophone route from Cotonou to Ouagadougou to Bamako to Dakar. 

The inset shows the domestic network, detailed in the following post.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Ghana International Airlines: Accra, London, Düsseldorf, c.2009

After the demise of Ghana Airways, furtive attempts were made to keep a Black Star flag carrier in the skies. From 2005-2010, Ghana International Airlines was an attempt to fill that role, with a single B757 flying weekly between Accra and London Gatwick, with a stop in Düsseldorf, Germany, which has a particularly sizable population of Ghanaians. Apparently there was also a service to Johannesburg, at least according to Wikipedia. This advert was from c.2009, the airline's last full year of operations.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Air Volta: International and Interior Timetable

Fada N'Gourma, Gorom Gorom, Diapaga, Bogandé, Pama, Sebba, Dori. Not the sort of names that autofill on everyday. But this was the network of the dancing Chi-Wara, shown in this vintage Air Volta horaire. The more unfamiliar names occur on the Lignes Interieures at right, where the center of the card shows the schedule of the mainline Ouagadougou-Bobo Dioulasso-BouakeBamako-Lomé-Cotonou service.

Haute Volta is today Burkina Faso, of course, and Air Volta today has been succeeded by Grupo Celestair's Air Burkina.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Virgin Atlantic: African operations, June 2013

A visual from Virgin Atlantic's mobile app, showing the airline's African destinations as of this summer: Accra, Lagos, Cape Town, and Johannesburg, with the interactive showing single jet launching north from Murtala Mohammed to London Heathrow.

Virgin Atlantic's other destinations on the continent, Nairobi, Port Harcourt and Abuja have not lasted, although the airline's website still offers a destination guides to the latter two. Nor, somewhat surprisingly, has Accra, which, perhaps due to high fuel costs of operating a quad-engined A340 on the route, will end on 23 September of this year. Mauritius also did not last, although it and Nairobi are still bizarrely listed on its website. And, it should be noted, Cape Town is only seasonal.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Billboard in Accra showing the Air Mali Network, 2011

Air Mali has, in recent years, made a strong effort to be relevant in the fast-growing but still tiny West African aviation market. Prominent billboards, such as this one on the Kanda Highway near Kotoka Airport in Accra, were part of its strategy to get noticed and get customers.

The network stretches from Pointe-Noire to Nouakchott, and concentrates heavily on the Francophone capitals. However, there are a few Anglophone cities served, as especially highlighted on this advert with Accra shown more prominently than even Bamako. Lagos is also linked, although central African serves to Libreville and Brazzaville appear to transit via Cotonou or Lomé. The Freetown-Monrovia service was short-lived, and since this billboard was erected in Ghana, the country has been torn apart by civil conflict, from which it is just now starting to recover. It's not clear from the airline's website how accurate this c.2011 route map is today.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Air Nigeria Destinations, October 2012

With the renewed uncertainty around Antrak Air's airworthiness in the wake of a recent engine fire, yesterday's post recalls an earlier West African airline collapse, the sad demise of Air Nigeria, the once-proud Branson-backed venture which suspended operations in September 2012 after a number of rebrandings and a steady decline. Despite its diminished state, Air Nigeria's denouement had a major impact on West African air travelers. Nearly a month after its death, the door of Air Nigeria's ticket office in the international departure hall of Accra's Kotoka Airport sports its various destination in West Africa.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Antrak Air: No One Flies Ghana Like We Do, 2012

The optimism emanating from this A4 advertisement posted to the door of Antrak Air's ticket office in the domestic wing of Kotoka International Airport is somewhat dented by the sarcastic "R.I.P." scribbled in blue Bic at the bottom.

Thankfully for the aviation company, the fleet's grounding in the wake of an onboard fire in the spring of 2012 was temporary, and the airline is offering domestic flights between Accra and Kumasi, Sunyani, and Takoradi multiple times daily, although now it faces stiff competition from the grandiloquently named African World Airlines, and in the last week a second aircraft fire renewed calls in the Ghanaian press for the airline's immediate grounding.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Royal Jordanian: Amman to Lagos and Accra, July 2013

One of the newest entries into the fast-growing West African aviation market is Royal Jordanian, which  last month commenced a twice-weekly Amman-Lagos-Accra service on Wednesdays and Fridays. These colorfully-designed announcements appeared on the airline's website at the beginning of the summer.

While not as rapidly-expanding as the trio of Gulf supercarriers Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar Airways, little Royal Jordanian has reached Ghana before either of the latter two, using its dashing, charcoal-grey A330, according to Airline Route, which also notes a lack of local traffic rights between the two West African cities. Emirates flies to both Lagos and Accra daily, with the Accra service, usually on a massive A340, skipping on to Abidjan before returning to Dubai.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Corsair: Three times per week between Paris and Abidjan, April 2013

A billboard inside the arrivals hall at Abidjan's Felix Houphouët-Boigny International Airport advertises the fine features of Corsair's premium cabin on its thrice-weekly flights between Cote D'Ivoire and Paris-Orly Airport, which seem to usually operate on an A330. The advertisement boasts Corsair's most recent branding, which curiously replaced the TUI-conformed identity (not to mention its more interesting, earlier colors, based on the Corsican flag). A rather bland, sail-boat inspired tail design, which is also found on its website.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Surinam Airways Network, 2012

A colorful constellation of countries and constituencies shows the recent extent of Surinam Airways's routes. For certain the geography is not to scale, as tiny Curaçao is more massive than giant Brazil, and the compact Netherlands is as large as Florida. Belem is shown nearly as far away as the distant Dutch home country. A similar version shown on Flickr shows neighboring Georgetown, Guyana.

Friday, July 19, 2013

ALM Antillean Airlines Network, Date Unknown.

Via this Dutch Caribbean website comes this vintage route map of ALM Antillean Airlines. The image is undated but does not seem to be contemporary with the end of the little airline's life in 2001, so could be from anywhere between 1985-1995, although the airline had its origins in 1964. 

The "Dutch Anitllean Airlines" logo sits over the mid-Atlantic ocean, the same light blue as the nautical  labels and coordinate lines. The airline's routes spoke outward from the ABC islands, with three separate services to New York, one via St Maarten, and two to Miami via Kingston, Jamaica. Port-au-Prince, Santo Domingo, and San Juan are also served. 

These tiny Dutch constituencies hug the massive South American coast, and likewise ALM's routes seem to skirt around the territory, particularly the southeasterly service which terminates at the Dutch-speaking Paramaraibo, Suriname, via Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Georgetown, Guyana. Other, shorter routes pierce the mainland, linking major Colombian and Venezuelan cities with the airline's home airports, Queen Beatrix International in Aruba and Hato International Airport at Willemstad, Curaçao

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

LAN to Colombia, 2013

LAN, originally a Chilean carrier, has now become the dominant airline of all of the Latin America. This web ad markets its Colombian Division, with daily flight to Bogota. Clicking the link takes you to a dedicated section of the website, showing convenient connections from Miami to twenty Colombian cities via Bogota, including Barranquilla, Cali, Medellin, and others:

Monday, July 15, 2013

SAHSA Route Network, 1993

One of the member carriers of Grupo TACA is the International Airline of Honduras, SAHSA, shown here in a lucid advertisement from late in its independent life. There are as many routes out of the Honduran resort of San Pedro Sula and the Belizean cities as there are from the capital, Tegucigalpa. Houston, New Orleans, and Miami are the US gateways, and the airline flew as far south as Panama. Interestingly, there is no service to Mexico City or Cancún, although there was a flight from the Caribbean resort town of La Ceiba to tiny, Anglophone Grand Cayman. This service, along with flights to New Orleans, did not survive the rebranding into TACA.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

TACA: The Lima Hub, 2011

No corner of the globe has undergone such a radical re-alignment of aviation interests than Latin America, in which all but a handful of state carriers and private operators (not least including VIASA, VASP, Transbrasil, VARIG, Lloyd Aero Boliviano, Ladeco, Ecuatoriana, Aviateca, NICA, and Sahsa) have disappeared. In addition to the asphyxiatingly ubiquitous LAN Group, and a variety of promising mainline start-ups and a plethora of low-cost ventures, South America is now territory covered by Grupo TACA, through its 1999 merger with Avianca.

That marriage included the rebranding of a unit based at Lima, formerly known as TransAm but now operating as TACA Peru, with Avianca as a 49% shareholder. The division serves ten major cities from Santiago to Santa Cruz to Sao Paulo, and connects northwards to TACA's hubs in Central America as well as Mexico City and Miami.

Friday, July 12, 2013

TACA Airlines Network, 2011

Fast-forward from the previous post, and tiny El Salvador has, through merger and might, grown to one of the largest inter-American airlines and virtually the only international airline between Mexico and Panama, with focus cities in San Jose, Costa Rica and Guatemala City. The Spanish fine print at the bottom of the map mentions the original state carriers, such as LASCA, NICA, Aviateca, and newly-formed national divisions such as TACA Perú, that form the modern airline. The latter is based from a sizable hub at Lima, detailed in the next post.

In North America, the airline runs as far northwest as San Francisco and as far northeast as Toronto, although an earlier route to Boston failed. New Orleans is gone, but Orlando and Dallas have been added, along with highly-prestigious and lucrative routes to Washington and New York. The next few posts looks at the growing airline in detail.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Aviateca Timetable and Route Map, June 1993

Continuing with our posts on service between the US and Latin America, this twenty-year old artifact of Mesoamerican aviation is presented: a full intra-American flight schedule and route map for Guatemalan state carrier Aviateca in its Late Post-Classic phase, just prior to be absorbed into the fold of Grupo TACA of neighboring El Salvador.

The schedule stretches from Chicago to Panama, as does the small map at the lower right, showing a web of routes out of Guatemala City, including an unusual route to New Orleans, which would later be rerouted to Honduras after it taken over by TACA. Unfortunately, like the airline that committed to it, the route has not survived to the present day, and New Orleans' role as a primary gateway from the Midwest to Middle America is a distant memory. But here, there is also some sort of connecting service between Louisiana and Houston, which also links with Merida, in the middle of the Yucatan. Aside from its base of operations at La Aurora, the airline held a mini-hub at Flores, gateway to Tikal in the northern Peten department, links to Cancún and Belize. In a sense, Aviateca was the airline of the Mundo Maya, even in the mid-1990s. Yet the Quetzalcoatl was not to survive as its own fleet, becoming one of the five macaws of Grupo Taca just a few years after the publication of this pamphlet.

Monday, July 8, 2013

USAirways: Charlotte to Sao Paulo, June 2013

COPA's service from Boston to Panama is not the only new Latin American service launching from the Eastern US this summer. USAirways, which will never be known for bold, globe-trotting expansion, surprised many in 2009 when its strategy to capture the ever-increasing opportunities on international flights was to inaugurate service from its North Carolina hub at Charlotte Douglas to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

That service is now accompanied by a parallel sub-equatorial route, with a nightly flight from Charlotte to Sao Paulo, the country's and continent's largest city and most important business hub. The rather drab notice was posted on the airline's website, which notes that an old B767 will be rerouted to run the long inter-American leg. As uninspiring as the dull skyline picture used on the announcement page.