Friday, September 30, 2016
The Interflug posts earlier this week made mention of Dresden, at the time one of East Germany's secondary industrial areas, and one of all of Germany's most beautiful cities.
Today, its airport is quite small, and generally has more leisure services to the Mediterranean than to the commercial capitals of Europe. For a brief time, CityJet, operating a wet-lease commuter operation on behalf of Air France, operated a London City Airport service on a BAe146. Sadly the service did not last.
Wednesday, September 28, 2016
Continuing from the last post, more facsimile fun from the back pages of the Interflug timetable for November 1975 to March 1976. Everything is out of Berlin in this case, and what might be most remarkable are the infrequency of services: barely more than once per day to next door Warsaw, and about four times per week Bucharest and the Yugoslav run to Zagreb—Belgrade as well as Sofia, with once per week to the Black Sea resort town of Varna. On top, the Czechoslovak services show some variety, especially fun is the once weekly Tu-134 landing at the Carpathian ski resort of Poprad-Tatry, a premier feature on the Timetablist.
Further down the sheet is the long, once-weekly pan Asia flight to North Vietnam via Moscow, Tashkent, Karachi and Dhaka. At lower left is the now well-known Berlin—Algiers—Bamako—Freetown—Conakry twice weekly operations, and at the grand finale is the twice-weekly hop over the Iron Curtain, northward to Helsinki.
Tuesday, September 27, 2016
The unscheduled discovery of this Interflug memorial website has gotten us sidetracked in reviewing its treasures. This post celebrates the first half of a photocopy-palletted schedule from November 1975 to March 1976 for routes within Europe and the Middle East, as well as the single transatlantic route, the historically curious twice-weekly Berlin—Gander—Havana service, which probably didn't ferry the freezing Newfoundlanders to sunny Cuba on the way.
Other flights follow from previously-posted material of earlier years: one of the Iron Curtain spines in the latticework, the Berlin—Leipzig—Erfurt—Budapest—Tirana operation is shown at top, and below it one-off flights to the free world: Milan, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Vienna. Shown below is the all-important to Moscow and Leningrad. The largest box shows four weekly operations to the Near East: to Cairo, to Beirut, and Damascus—Baghdad.
The next post shows the remaining pages of the schedule.
Saturday, September 24, 2016
Double-checking some dates and details from the last post sent Timetablist to this website, with a treasure-trove of Interfluginalia, including this gracefully fluid route map, as the East German state carrier gently jets across the Second and Third Worlds.
The Warsaw pact capitals are well represented, such as Warsaw itself, but also including the smaller cities such as Tirana and Zagreb. Past the Iron Curtain, some non-aligned and socialist states of the Arab world are served, such as the Nicosia-Damascus-Baghdad route and the Cairo-Khartoum connection. The dashed lines and double-M metro sign perhaps indicate regional rail connections; secondary airports of the DDR, namely Dresden and Erfurt, are connected to Budapest, from whence it appears, reading the threading of the route lines correctly, that flights continue onward on the famous Algiers-Bamako-Conakry-Freetown journey. Almost everything else is out of Schönefeld.
Thursday, September 22, 2016
It seems fitting to conclude this month's coverage of the recent state of affairs in Berlin to feature this vintage item, which recalls the postings of the earliest days of the Timetablist, far back in 2009. A first day cover from the DDR post celebrating the socialist Germany's reach to the verdant shores of West Africa, feverish with post-colonial realignment. As was shown in some of the first Timetablist posts, Interflug carried the Marxist dream far into equatorial Africa at the roaring clip of its sleek, quad-propulsion IL-62 jets on a variety of bi-weekly Schönefeld—Algiers—Bamako—Conakry—Freetown arrangements, although the above launch was more likely on the four-prop IL-18.
Monday, September 19, 2016
For space considerations, the other (non-Russian) worldly destinations that have lost their Lufthansa patronage since 2012 have been cordoned into this separate post. There are three continents hosting less Lufthansa than before, but the only mainline European city that is out is tiny Trondheim, Norway (a first for the Timetablist here), which was curiously served once a week by an aging B737-400.
Asia has been particularly affected: the long-haul connections to Jakarta (via Singapore) and Kuala Lumpur (via Bangkok) could consistently work. More recently, Lufthansa has lost out to the Gulf three, and curtailed its dedicated flight to Abu Dhabi, and truncated the Muscat extension of its Frankfurt-Riyadh flights (although LX243, the Zürich-Dubai-Muscat connection on SWISS listed here, still operates today).
More dire but less surprising are the loss of further African services: no news that Tripoli has been abandoned, and Pointe-Noire's petrol-club PrivatAir B737-800 service via Libreville had its run, but less happy the abandonment of once-promising Asmara and long-served Khartoum, surely and sadly uneconomic nowadays. Also, lamentably, Caracas has likewise sunk into a less-viable abyss and receives fewer and fewer international airlines. Lufthansa closed down its Venezuelan outpost in May this year.
Saturday, September 17, 2016
Related to the post from last week about the withdrawal of Aeroflot's flights from Berlin-Tegel, the archival stacks of the Timetablist revealed a near-vintage item of relevance: a Lufthansa Systemwide Timetable from June-October 2012, graphically executed in the neat, straightforward Teutonic presentation that is classic Lufthansa—but issued only as a PDF instead of a bulkier booklet, a customer (and aviation nerd) service that, somewhat amazingly, Lufthansa still provides on its website.
Although just four years old, the reference in the Timetablist library features over a dozen destinations that have since been terminated. In particular, Lufthansa has retreated remarkably from Russia, a zone it made great efforts to penetrate in the 1990s and 2000s. Relatedly included: LH's lost service from Munich to Donetsk, the metropolitan area of 2 million in eastern Ukraine which is now self-proclaimed as independent, which caused Lufthansa to withdraw in 2014. A year earlier, the thrice-weekly Frankfurt-Perm-Kazan operation was closed and then separately Yekaterinburg was dropped in December due to lack of profitability.
The following year, services to Samara, Nizhniy Novgorod, and all flights to Moscow Vnukovo were curtailed (Lufthansa now only flies to Domodedovo).
While several major non-Russian carriers still serve many of these airports—notably Turkish Airlines, which overtook Lufthansa to become now the largest foreign carrier in Russia—the disappearance of Lufthansa from secondary centers in Russia is an undeniable loss of prestige for these cities, and an evident effect of the decline of Russia's political and commercial ties with Germany. 2012 might not be that long ago, but much has changed.
Thursday, September 15, 2016
Like many a good German airport company, the management of Berlin Tegel issues a printed timetable for traveler's reference. As we conclude the present series of posts on operations at Tegel in the Summer of 2015, this map offers an appropriate conclusion.
There are two many cities here to feature in one or even two posts, and it is not particularly noteworthy that the German capital is connected to some three dozen other cities across Europe. This week we have, however, discussed a bit about the somewhat peculiar circumstances of Berlin's commercial air transportation, still divided between multiple airports, awaiting the long-delayed opening of its 21st century hub.
In the meantime, tiny Tegel, something of the LaGuardia of central Europe, squeezes in only a handful of long-hual flights, in part due to the city's dispersion of air traffic and in part due to the
centralization of airline operations around Lufthansa's Frankfurt megahub and Munich base.
Hometown carrier Air Berlin does the city some good turns, particularly the high-prestige widebody services to New York JFK and Chicago O'Hare. United offers the only US Flag appearance, with its 767 flights to Newark (although these are sometimes ignominiously downgraded to narrow body 757s in the winter). Delta Air Lines just announced this month that it will soon return to Tegel, which is symbolically important as Tegel was such an important base for Pan-Am's intra-Europe operations that Delta inherited. Air Berlin also flies to Reykjavík-Keflavík and a number of warm-weather leisure destinations.
Perhaps more interesting are the handful of airlines connecting eastward to Asia. Azerbaijan Airlines was just recently featured here, and Qatar Airways scored a coup when it beat out Emirates for service to the Gulf—although Etihad snuck in through its ownership stake in Air Berlin, which flies non-stop to Abu Dhabi. Iraqi Airways makes for more fun planespotting, flying to both Erbil and Baghdad. This post is the first time we've featured the Iraqi flag carrier.
Hainan Airlines added Berlin to its European system in 2012 along with Brussels and Budapest, and connects to Beijing with a A330-200 (rather than one of its Dreamliners). But what is surely the most unusual airline landing in Reinickendorf is MIAT Mongolian Airlines, which has actually long-served Berlin, landing its A310s at Schönefeld since at least the late 1990s. The Mongolian flag carrier currently operates one its gorgeously painted B767-300s via Moscow Sheremetyevo airport, and this post marks its premier on the Timetablist. Although the airline also flies twice-weekly non-stop to Frankfurt, and once served Prague, Berlin is one its only European gateways.
Wednesday, September 14, 2016
A last item in the series of box-light billboard adverts at Berlin Tegel last summer: one of the undoubted pride of the German capital's operations, the hometown Air Berlin's widebody non-stops to Chicago and New York JFK. As mentioned earlier this week, Berlin has somewhat curious commercial aviation arrangements. These reflect in turn, the situation in the largely decentralized Germany as a whole, for that matter, where the dominant flag-carrier Lufthansa somewhat underserves large metro areas like Hamburg and the Rhein-Ruhr by concentrating a classic hub-and-spoke system in all-powerful Frankfurt and the highly-important but rather out-of-the-way Munich. This leaves the country's largest urban center and unquestionably one of the most important capitals of Europe with only a handful of long-haul options.
Monday, September 12, 2016
Elsewhere in the under-sized spaces of Berlin Tegel's main terminal A, hang a few banner adverts affixed to the ceiling. Here, Aeroflot tailors its offerings to the passengers below: given the chronic and increasingly dire under capacity of the diminutive Tegel, and the scandalously, incessantly delayed opening of Berlin-Brandenburg, there are surprisingly few long-haul options for travelers from the capital of Europe's largest economy.
Here, the Russian flag carrier boasts of an easy connection to far-flung destinations in east Asia: Hanoi, Phuket and Beijing (here showing how the Germans still say Peking), for example, all via Moscow Sheremetyevo. The campaign might not have been as successful as expected, as currently Aeroflot only serves Schönefeld, just adjacent to Berlin's perennial airport-of-the-future, which may never open.
Sunday, September 11, 2016
Continuing from the previous posts this week: Another luciously glowing light-box advertisement lit up the narrow corridors of the terminal at Berlin Tegel last year. Surprisingly, this is the debut of both Adria Airways and Ljubljana on the Timetablist, showing a gorgeous mountain lake scene somewhere in the southeasternmost Alps paired with an equally-enticing return fare of €139, which might only be an introductory fare, given the bright red "NEW" in the upper left corner of the photo; Adria began flying to the German capital thrice-weekly only in April of that year.
Saturday, September 10, 2016
Onurair was not the only airline with an attractive back-lit billboard at Berlin Tegel in the summer 2015. Here, Azerbaijan Airlines goes for a juxtaposition of civic symbols: the historic Brandenburg Tor against the 'iconic' flame towers of nouveau-riche Baku, to advertise its twice-weekly flights between the capitals.
Friday, September 9, 2016
Just as yesterday's post debuted a secondary Turkish airline connecting at Istanbul, today consists of another inaugural feature on the Timetablist: an advertisement of Onurair, yet another Kemalist carrier with a bland name and even more generic red logo. Marketed to hurried passengers at the tiny passenger terminal at Tegel Airport in Berlin, the poster excites the European traveler who wishes to reach Asia Minor—from large tourism gateways like Izmir, Bodrum and Antalya to more minor Anatolian destinations like Diyarbakir, Kayseri, and Gaziantep, all, apparently via Atatürk Airport. The journey can originate from major European hubs like Amsterdam and Berlin or secondary cities such as Stuttgart and Düsseldorf, to more obscure links such as Odessa and Nicosia.
Thursday, September 8, 2016
Having repeatedly featured RAK Airways recently, the Timetablist stays with our theme of the less well-known of the United Arab Emirates' airports with Ras Al-Khaimah's neighboring emirate, Sharjah. Once a larger and more prominent waystation than Dubai, Sharjah today acts as a suburban bedroom community for its now-world-famous hub next door. With over a million and a half people, it is a significant urban center in its own right, and its airport, barely 20 kilometers from DXB, is served by about 20 airlines, regional flag carriers like Air India, Egyptair, Qatar Airways, Saudia and Pakistan International, to more distant and exotic carriers like Uzbekistan Airways and SCAT of Kazakhstan.
Sharjah International may be most prominent due to its role as the home base of Air Arabia, the Easyjet of the Middle East, which dominates with flights to three score of destinations blanketing the UAE's near-catchment, from Sarajevo to Nairobi to Chittagong.
Also among the more low-cost carriers hanging at Sharjah is AtlasGlobal, a young Turkish airline whose new name (from the previous AtlasJet) makes it sound more like a cargo carrier than a passenger airline. With hubs at both of Istanbul's two airports and a fleet of red-striped A320s, AtlasGlobal seems to be following Air Arabia's model of generic no-frills regional connector. It will, it seems, splash out on advertising: here, along the humid corniche of Ras Al-Khaimah, these lightbox advertisements boast of AtlasGlobal's ultracheap roundtrips to Istanbul from Sharjah: at just AED892 (less than $250). Whether Atatürk or Sabiha Gokcen is not specified: AtlasGlobal services both from Sharjah, although it appears the Turkish dotted capital "I" was observed. Shame it couldn't get a better URL for its web address.
Wednesday, September 7, 2016
Quite unlike the contemporary six-continent dominance of its progeny, Bahrain-based Gulf Air's fortunes have long been on a slow but steady decline. Operations as far-flung as Houston and Hong Kong, Johannesburg and Jakarta, Manchester and Melbourne are all long gone, as the multi-state alliance was pulled apart.
Today, there are no flights to North America, East Asia or Australia, and its once-comprehensive spread across Europe has been reduced to only London, Paris, Frankfurt, Istanbul and Moscow.
It was somewhat of a victorious move, therefore, to relaunch flights to a new Euro gateway, in this case, the somewhat-unlikely choice of Athens, which, despite the economic contraction that if anything exceeds in magnitude the retreat of Gulf Air itself, at least has the advantage of being within range of Gulf Air's narrow body fleet.
Tuesday, September 6, 2016
Staying with Qatar Airways and Doha, from yesterday's post, here is a screenshot of the departures board at Hamad International Airport from January 2015, showing the remarkable reach of the number 2 of the "Gulf 3" as part of the State of Qatar's wide-ranging campaign to raise the global profile and relevance of the tiny, wealthy emirate.
But it also demonstrates the degree to which that profile is still limited to its own initiatives: while Qatar Airway's worldwide network makes Hamad International one of the few airports in the world to link to all six inhabited continents nonstop, this is largely limited to the state carrier's operations itself—few other airlines serve Doha.
While DOH's flight boards normally subsist of a predominance of QR flights, here the flag carrier only connects merely to Dubai, Kuwait, and Bahrain—much less grand than the ultra-long haul, hexacontinental operations such as those noted earlier this week.
In this particular time block there are two European long-haul operations: Lufthansa connecting at Bahrain to Frankfurt, and British Airways to London, while Gulf Air also connects to Bahrain, its base. Elsewhere in the Gulf, Emirates, and flydubai do their bit as part of the "Doha-Dubai shuttle," nowadays the busiest intra-Gulf route. Looking further east, there are several Jet Airways flights to Cochin, Delhi and Mumbai, whereas SriLankan connects to Colombo at 10:40pm.
Sunday, September 4, 2016
A window screen advert, shields the Qatar Airways ticket office in the Seef quarter of Manama, Bahrain from the blazing sun. A glossy, angled photo of "The Bean," Anish Kapoor's cloudgate sculpture in Millennium Park, Chicago, advertises Qatar's "5-star journeys to the USA" from Doha to Chicago, Houston, New York, and Washington. Philadelphia, Miami and Dallas announced in non-alphabetical order (but perhaps order of inaugural route?) in the second row— "launching soon" the asterisk denotes the still-large fine print. The latter three came on in the succeeding months; Los Angeles, Boston and Atlanta were later added in 2016.
Saturday, September 3, 2016
In what is becoming something of a RAK Airways week, Timetablist follows on fro yesterday's post, mining the online archives of the defunct air carrier's Facebook page. Here is a nice advert boasting of Ras Al-Khaimah's "national airline" convenient connections between Lahore and Peshawar to the UAE, Doha, Jeddah and Kuwait, as seen through the airplane windows in the middle of the page. Prices quoted in Pakistani rupees. Cheap and cheerful for the many employment migrants from the subcontinent to the Gulf.
Friday, September 2, 2016
Continuing from yesterday's post, the cheery but moribund Facebook page of RAK Airways is a vault of azure-blue online advertisements, although the posting ceased with the demise of the airline in 2013. This 518-image strong archive would provide the Timetablist with dozens of potential post topics, but one that is especially worth contemplating is this item, from mid-2012, when the flag carrier of the emirate of Ras Al-Khaimah reached to its farthest extent, with a 4x weekly service to Bangkok, a flight not included on yesterday's route map.
Thursday, September 1, 2016
The a web graphic from the erstwhile RAK Airways, showing what was probably the maximum extent of that airline's reach: a 7,000-km span across the Arab world to southern Asia, from Cairo to Calicut to Chittagong. The national airline of the emirate of Ras Al-Khaimah seemed to be marketing feeder traffic for guest workers throughout the region, sourced mainly from Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Egypt. The airline's short Wikipedia page recounts the interesting saga of its launch, suspension, rebirth and second death, while the airline's Facebook page, last updated in December 2013 (shortly before the airline's final demise), has some nice photos of its pair of A320s during its 2.0 iteration. Scrolling back through the social media posts reveals that Amman and Kozhikode, not shown above, were part of the second generation. The airline's original website, meanwhile, now hosts a curious flow of long-form, contemplative text on contemporary travel.
The airline's home base, Ras Al-Khaimah International Airport, has partially recovered from the collapse; it now hosts operations by low-cost Air Arabia and Air India Express to many of the same destinations as RAK Airways, as well as charter flights from Germany, Latvia, Poland and Russia to the hot-sand beach resorts of the northeastern United Arab Emirates.