Sunday, December 31, 2017
This item from the dusty archives of The Timetablist's dusty archives is an undated relic of the low-graphic era of a decade ago, when Chanchangi Air Lines was a means of travel within Nigeria. The 8-bit emblem of the airline and the card-deck zoom-in of the map of Nigeria further limit the sophistication of the visual message.
Unlike the previous post, Yola was not served, but Port Harcourt and Kaduna apparently were, including an especially short hop between Abuja and Kaduna.
Saturday, December 30, 2017
After having considered the curiously named Med-View, Air Peace, and IRS Airlines, The Timetablist now introduces yet another chapter in the colorful and strange modern history of Nigerian commercial aviation by premiering Chanchangi Air Lines, which seemed to have existed from around 2003 to about 2012, although this odd, blurry social media graphic was posted in August 2013 to the airline's now quiet Facebook page.
The airline's Wikipedia article details its regional ambitions, but by the time the social media era came into full swing, the airline seems to have only served Abuja, Lagos, and Yola, the latter being the commercial airport closest to the carrier's founder's home village, for which the airline was named.
As much as Med-View has intercontinental ambitions, in presuming the mantle of "the Airline of Nigeria," it was taken on a network and route strategy very similar to previous air carriers from Nigeria such as Arik, going all the way back to the original Nigeria Airways.
As recently shown in these social media posts, Med-View has launched services along the West African coast, from Lagos to Monrovia (via Accra, of course), which is shown here in a gloomy, off-centered image of the city's squat legislative building; and all the way up to Dakar, where a gorgeous photo of Gorée Island references DKR, the old Yoff airport, which closed this same month. All flights to the Senegalese capital have since shifted to the brand-new Blaise Diagne International in distant Diass.
Friday, December 29, 2017
Wednesday, December 27, 2017
An enticing picture of the corniche of Jeddah glows from Med-View Airline's social media accounts a year on from the previous post. However, Med-View does not serve Jeddah directly from Lagos; instead the connection is Kaduna—Kano—Jeddah, resurrecting Kano's former role as the northern international gateway for all of Nigeria.
Supplementally confusing is the city list at the bottom; while the destinations listed there are among those Med-View serves, several of them (Enugu, Ilorin, Owerri, and Port Harcourt) including many of the more ambitious (Baltimore, Houston, Johannesburg, Lisbon) are not served by the airline, and no plans have been announced. This, too, is reminiscent of earlier episodes in Nigeria's airline history.
Tuesday, December 26, 2017
Med-View Airline boasts of its long-haul operations, specifically its thrice-weekly flights from Lagos to London-Gatwick, shown here in a social media post from November 2016, with the skies over Westminster appropriately stormy. At lower left, the dark room of Portcullis House makes the tricolored schedule a bit challenging to read, and its not clear if the times listed are departure times, which would make them day flights.
Saturday, December 23, 2017
Continuing with a survey of the changing landscape of Nigerian air carriers, The Timetablist features MedView Airline here for the first time. Styled as Med-View on the side of its growing fleet of aircraft, like many of the other upstarts, started recently but has been fast-expanding into the vacuum left by the near-fatal collapse of Arik Air.
Med-View has recently emerged as Nigeria's de-facto flag carrier, listing on the country's stock exchange in July and launching prestigious Dubai and London connections formerly operated by Arik, (although the London flights are merely to Gatwick and the Dubai routes have since been shifted to seasonal services). Indeed, the airline now festoons "The Airline of Nigeria" on its cheat-line.
Before that push, Med-View began as a domestic carrier, as shown above on this graphic from four years ago, although it's not entirely clear if the airline is stating that the new routes from September 2013 are Port Harcourt to Abuja and Lagos to Enugu.
Thursday, December 21, 2017
If Arik Air doesn't offer the right route or a convenient schedule, the Nigerian air traveler's next option, at least a decade ago, might have been the reassuringly named IRS Airlines, which is even more non-Nigerian and strangely American in its livery, with a red-white-and-yellow emblem in the shape of an eagle's head, like a rejected US Postal Service logo, as seen on this magazine advertisement from about ten years ago, which marks the premier of this airline on The Timetablist.
What is not so reassuring is that the airline's Facebook Page has not been updated since 2011, and the airline's website isn't loading. Who knows where the initials came from, but at one point this curious carrier linked much of northern Nigeria, including Kano, Kaduna, Maiduguri, Sokoto, and Yola with Abuja and Lagos as well as southern cities like Benin, Port Harcourt and Owerri.
Wednesday, December 20, 2017
Down is up in this social media graphic from Dana Air, which at least seems to clarify its exact route network, although somewhat upside down, as Lagos is in the south, Abuja in the north, and Uyo in the far southeast. Based on this, it seems impossible to fly non-stop on Nigeria's trunk route, the air bridge between the capital Abuja and the commercial megacity, Lagos, unless this flow-chart is merely stylistic and doesn't, in fact, reflect the airline's operations.
Tuesday, December 19, 2017
Sunday, December 17, 2017
Another of Nigeria's private sector airlines is Dana Air, which started flying in 2008 and is featured here on The Timetablist for the first time. Like Air Peace and Arik Air, have shunned the slightest inclusion of green in their liveries, ensuring no association with the state. And like Air Peace, Dana Air runs domestically between the big three airports: Lagos, Abuja, and Port Harcourt, while also serving, somewhat more randomly, the city of Uyo in the far southeast, formerly in Cross River State.
While those cities are listed several times on this social media post from two years ago, the main focus of the promotion is on the Lagos—Accra vv., the airline's lone international operation, which at some point in the last two years has been withdrawn: the airline has reverted to solely domestic operations, although the airline has subsequently added flights to Owerri.
Friday, December 15, 2017
Accra has become established as perhaps the principal aviation cross-roads of West Africa, with the appearance of such unusual carriers as Cronos and CEIBA Intercontinental, as referenced in posts from earlier this month. Even more central to its position in the region is the importance of flights to Nigeria, most especially the critical Accra-Lagos air bridge, the busiest air corridor in all of West and Central Africa (although still minuscule in comparison to other famous shuttle routes such as São Paulo-Rio, Boston-New York-Washington, or Madrid-Barcelona, etc.
The Timetablist has repeatedly featured the tragic circumstance of the short-lived Nigerian Air Carrier, be it the long-lost Nigeria Airways itself, or its series of successors, most famously in the last decade the Virgin Nigeria-Air Nigeria saga, which is now repeated with near-exact trajectory by the once-proud and now much-diminished Arik Air; it would be shocking if not so repetitive.
In place of these companies now comes the latest and most-curious generation, which will be the subject of The Timetablist for the remainder of the month. These airlines are universally unusual and unreassuring in their appearance and appellation, all the moreso for their short lifespan.
This particular transporter, named Air Peace, was established in 2013 and premiers in The Timetablist here for the first time. The company heightened its profile in February of this year by the introduction of a daily Lagos-Accra return schedule, performed by one the airline's various B737s—whether purchased or leased, the 733s and 735s are all of about 1997 vintage, which at least accords with the anachronistic paint scheme.
Comfort is not further provided in this announcement, as while it is all well to feature the airline's other destinations, all domestic, the Coming Soon section surely invites only ridicule, or else Air Peace is on an expansion plan of historic efforts. Abidjan, Dakar, Douala and Niamey are reasonable achievable; London, Dubai, and Johannesburg certainly less-so, although Arik, and Virgin Nigeria in an earlier age, made similar plans. However, Atlanta, Mumbai, and the expansion simply referred to as 'China' seem to perhaps be more likely to require "more long wait."
Thursday, December 14, 2017
Someone knew their way around MS Word enough to author this straight-forward table of services for ECAir, the trade-name of Equatorial Congo Airlines, flag-carrier of the Republic of Congo, featured here on The Timetablist for the first time. For the month of October 2016 only, the schedule is divided into three tables: Domestic (detailing only the twice-daily flights between the capital Brazzaville and the Atlantic oil-hub at coastal Pointe-Noire) on a sizable B757.
In addition, an interesting sub-index of riverine runs across the mighty Congo to the nearby capital of the DRC, Kinshasa Central Station, almost recalling the manner in which Lufthansa or other European carriers link rail services to their timetables. The equipment type designates "HOV" which can only stand for Hovercraft or High Occupancy Vehicle, or both. No such ferry services specifically featuring a hovercraft are easily located.
The next block, regional services, lists once-weekly flights to and from Douala, Cotonou, Libreville, and Bamako-Dakar. More obvious links to Abidjan and Lomé are not part of the operation. Somewhat fascinating to see a large B767 on these routes.
Undoubtedly the pride of the company were the afternoon long-haul operations, alternating every other day between Paris-CDG and Dubai International with the B767 wet-leased from the Swiss charter company, PrivatAir, as the airline remained forever banned from bringing its own equipment into the airspace of the European Union.
Sadly however, in the very time frame that this schedule contemplates, the airline was shut-down in the same month, sadly never to be revived.
Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Little Equatorial Guinea has not one but two airlines; the privately-formed Cronos, detailed in the previous posts, and the state carrier, CEIBA Intercontinental, which mimics its sister with a series of regional routes, including Accra, Lomé, and Douala, but interestingly, according to this map, avoiding Yaoundé and Lagos. The airline also extends further, reaching Abidjan and Dakar, as well as Pointe-Noire and Brazzaville in the Republic of Congo.
Undoubtedly the pride of CEIBA's services is the long-haul to Madrid. The sole long-haul operation flying the Equatoguinean flag reaches Barajas in the erstwhile colonial metropole thrice-weekly. As a carrier still banned by the European Union, with a B777 operated by Portuguese aviation company White Airways, complete with a 3-class configuration.
The other proximas routes shown here: Casablanca, Johannesburg, Las Palmas, Lisbon and Luanda, have never come to pass.
Monday, December 11, 2017
Sunday, December 10, 2017
This banner stand has been displayed outside an Accra travel agency for years, marketing the incredibly obscure Cronos Airlines, premiering here on The Timetablist for the first time. Cronos's tiny fleet of Bae-146s have since about 2014 flown from Kotoka International Airport to Malabo, capital of Equatorial Guinea, along with routes to the country's mainland commercial center, Bata, and flights to Cameroon's commercial capital, Douala (although the latter two are not non-stop).
Saturday, December 9, 2017
As mentioned in the previous post, the Accra-Monrovia sector was once the third-busiest route pair in West and Central Africa. Lomé-based ASKY Airlines for a time plied the corridor, for a time even acting as the sole carrier to Monrovia's secondary, inner-city airfield, Spriggs-Payne, but has since completely withdrawn from serving Liberia.
The above route map, from mid-2016, shows Liberia and Sierra Leone as a gap in the carrier's extensive West African coverage, spinning out from Togo with a number of secondary links between regional capitals such as Niamey, Abuja, Libreville and Conakry in particular but also reaching under-served cities like Bangui and Bissau.
Overlaid with ASKY's web are the bright green long-haul connections of parent company Ethiopian Airlines: to Addis Ababa, New York, and São Paulo. The Brazilian route, unfortunately, did not last (the airline switched the GRU non-stop to its Addis Ababa hub this year), but Ethiopian continues to invest in the ASKY project—and the Togolese government has responded with the opening of an enormous new terminal at Tokion in April of 2016. Since this time, Ethiopian has been able to sustain the transatlantic service to Newark, making tiny Lomé one of the just four West African airports with non-stop service to the United States.
Friday, December 8, 2017
From the pages of the small-circulation Business and Financial Times of Ghana earlier this month, a bright-red announcement of the latest expansion of Accra-based Africa World Airlines. While still barely regional, and hardly global as its grandiose name implies, AWA is adding another city and another country to its network, with thrice-weekly service to Roberts International Airport in Liberia. The Accra-Monrovia route was at one point the third busiest in West Africa, with stiff competition between Kenya Airways, Arik Air, and earlier augmentation by Air Nigeria and even Delta Air Lines. The Ebola Crisis changed all that, with only Kenya and Arik returning to the route; but this 2-hour Embraer flight marks a significant retrenchment of the link.
Wednesday, July 19, 2017
It is by now obvious to remark that the world's aviation market is now at the dawn of a golden age of low-cost long-haul flying. While largely pioneered in parts of Australasia, the fast-expanding boom is currently focused on the North Atlantic market, led by the seemingly now-ubiquitous Norwegian Air Shuttle.
From its first B787 deliveries, the airline has forayed far and wide, first to Fort Lauderdale and New York JFK, then Bangkok. At the beginning of this year, the young but well-funded airline shocked the Northern Hemisphere with the sudden announcement of a huge capacity increase, made possible by the arrival of brand-new next-generation B737Max jets. Norwegian paired off six northwestern European cities: Belfast, Bergen, Cork, Dublin, Edinburgh and Shannon, with three New England airports: Hartford, Providence, and, most surprisingly, Stewart Airport in suburban Westchester County, New York. As can be seen above, the map is now to crowded to follow each individual route line.
Further complicating comprehension, this route map also has almost as many future destinations as current operations. Over the next twelve months, the ever-growing fleet of red-throated Dreamliners will take to the Scandinavian skies to reach a further four U.S. airports: Austin, Chicago, Denver and Seattle are all scheduled before summer 2018. Norwegian also continues its Southeast Asian expansion with the addition of Gatwick-Singapore in September, going head-to-head with aviation's biggest players in a highly competitive corridor.
That flight will not be the airline's only super long-haul out of Gatwick. Within the same time frame, Norwegian will also reach its first South American destination, Buenos Aires, from Gatwick. A rather unexpected venture, the route is especially noteworthy not only as Norwegian spreads to yet another continent, but that the airline already has a long-haul base under development at Barcelona, where IAG's brand-new LCLH Level is flying to Buenos Aires, which, furthermore, is in direct competition with legacy flag carrier Aerolineas Argentinas, one of that once-great carrier's few remaining European destinations.
With industry observers already questioning the Norwegian's rapid long-haul expansion and its business practices in general, we'll have to see if Norwegian can really maintain these routes, much less continue its global domination.
With industry observers already questioning the Norwegian's rapid long-haul expansion and its business practices in general, we'll have to see if Norwegian can really maintain these routes, much less continue its global domination.
Wednesday, May 10, 2017
Staying with RAM from the previous post, rare is the route map that doesn't label the cities, but here Royal Air Maroc makes for a fun guessing game—particularly challenging as the Moroccan state carrier serves so many African and European cities that identification is not so automatic.
Looking at West and Central Africa, a single, curving route line seems to connect Nouakchott—Bamako—Ouagadougou—Niamey, while there also seems to be a direct route to Bamako itself. There looks to be a link between Casablanca—Abidjan—Port Gentil. On the easternmost side, the service to Kinshasa appears to make a stop in Bangui. Accra, Lome, Cotonou and Lagos align smartly in the middle.
Tuesday, May 9, 2017
"Brazzaville" is not a place name that frequently jumps out from the screen when landing on an airline's home page. In this case, however, Royal Air Maroc seems to randomly generate a destination from its plethora of sub-Saharan services, to greet web visitors. As New York City leads the U.S. in terms of its immigrant population from Africa, and RAM is one of very few carriers connecting New York—or anywhere in North America—with the African continent, this might be one of the few spots that such a relatively obscure destination should be broadcast. As with other advertising copy, the need to change planes in Casablanca (often with a long layover) is not mentioned. There is, unfortunately, no non-stop from JFK to the Congo Republic.
Monday, May 8, 2017
Another RAM billboard in another country: this outdoor advert invites customers in Guinea to consider the nine connections per week to Beirut from Conakry, a somewhat indirect, 13.5 hour routing via Casablanca, more than 2,000km out of the way, is nonetheless an attractive option, given the country's few air connections.
The copy boasts of the airline's generous baggage allowance, which is a frequent selling point for airlines in West Africa, given the importance of petty trading and commercial buying trips in the region. Like most West African countries, Guinea hosts a large Lebanese population, many involved in commerce and trading or consumer products, construction supplies, garments, and other materials, so there is already a sizable potential market.
The billboard features a lovely scene of the sun setting into the Med behind Beirut's famous corniche.
Friday, May 5, 2017
As Tunisair and Air Algérie spread their wings across the Atlantic, the mega-carrier of northwestern Africa, Royal Air Maroc, continues to outpace them. Already long-present in both Montreal and New York, the state carrier of Morocco recently added a third North American service on-board its sleek fleet of new Dreamliners: Washington Dulles. The Casablanca-IAD flights, launched in September, are shown advertised here on a billboard near the Anfa Mall.
Thursday, May 4, 2017
It seems the management of flag carriers across North Africa have similar strategy forecasts: within months of Tunisair announcing their first-ever long-haul, trans-Atlantic service to Montreal, the state airline of Algeria, Air Algérie, followed suit, with an identical aircraft. Luckily, Montreal's enormous francophone immigrant communities hail not just from North Africa but across the French-speaking states of the continent, so there is likely plenty of demand. For a brief period of time earlier this year, the airline had also planned a non-stop between Oran and Montreal, but this was scrapped in favor of increased frequencies from Algiers only.
Wednesday, May 3, 2017
As mentioned in the first two posts from this month, Tunisair has finally undertaken a long-contemplated long-haul expansion. It's first intercontinental destination on a pristine new A330-200 was Montreal, launching thrice-weekly, summer seasonal service in 2016 which repeats this year starting next month.
Montreal, one of the world's largest French-speaking cities, has sizable and affluent francophone immigrant communities, not just from North Africa but West Africa as well. Royal Air Maroc has long served the French-speaking Canadian metropolis, and Air Algerie followed Tunisair's lead recently as well.
Tuesday, May 2, 2017
Tiny Tunisair is growing. Now extending to four continents, with extensive connections to metropolitan France (Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille, Nice, Toulouse) as part of more than two-dozen European destinations, including third-level cities like Belgrade and Düsseldorf.
The Western Africa network is not as extensive as other carriers, but Tunis is now connected to seven francophone sub-Saharan capitals, from Nouakchott to Niamey. Three routes to the Middle East are sustained: Beirut, Jeddah and Medina, which is misplaced on this otherwise straightforward graphic representation. Not every venture has met with success, as the airline's flights to Dubai were scrapped, as has been previously reported here.
Pride of the carrier is the airline's most distant service: the year-old long-haul link to Montreal, Tunisair's first wide-body, trans-Atlantic operation.
Monday, May 1, 2017
Tunisair has been expanding at a healthy clip, trying to transform from a tiny state carrier to a more international network. This involves both the inauguration of a long-haul operation (long planned since before the 2011 revolution and resurrected thereafter) and the spread of services in its own corner of the world. In the model of nearby Royal Air Maroc, Tunisair has been adding destinations in Western and Northern Africa.
Here are the two most recent increases: a twice weekly operation to Conakry, Guinea, in the far corner of tropical west Africa, and a thrice-weekly connection to Constantine, that ancient crossroads, now a secondary city in neighboring Algeria.
Friday, April 7, 2017
Like the departures monitor shown in the last post, the evening arrivals schedule at Abidjan some weeks back was dominated by hometown carrier Air Côte d'Ivoire, with flights landing from Bamako, Niamey, Dakar, and Conakry in quick succession, followed an hour later by a domestic arrival from San Pedro.
As the time approached 7PM, the longer-range and intercontinental flights from foreign carriers began crowding the modest apron at Houphouët-Boigny International Airport: South African Airways from Johannesburg via Accra (which also stops at Kotoka International Airport on the return leg), then Air France from Paris an hour later. It is this flight, AF702, that is occasionally operated by an A380 superjumbo—one of the few to anywhere in Africa, and currently the only double-decker service between to francophone cities.
At 8:30, Rwandair's flight 222 from Kigali via Libreville and Douala, immediately followed by the Brussels Airlines link to Cotonou. The last arrival on the evening's board is the Tunisair non-stop from Tunis.
Thursday, April 6, 2017
Air Côte d'Ivoire naturally dominates the departures board at Abidjan's Felix Houphouët-Boigny International Airport, the airline's base and the principal gateway to the country. See we see an evening departures list for a 2-1/2 hour window from 18:00 to about 20:30—although the noon flight to Conakry has been massively delayed, it seems.
At the six o'clock hour, one of the airline's handful of domestic operations takes off with a flight to San Pedro, the cocoa port in the southwest of the country, near the Liberia border (first featured on the Timetablist with this post). The 7-8pm block features a half dozen of the airline's regional flights, starting with the longest haul of the HF schedule, to Libreville with onward service to Brazzaville. Fifteen minutes later the flight for Douala leaves, which then terminates at N'Djamena, Chad. Nearer routes take up the bottom of the hour: Cotonou, Lagos, and neighboring Accra and Lomé.
From 8 o'clock, the long-haul departures begin for other airlines. Here we see the flight on Brussels Airlines to Zavantem via Ouagadougou, and the non-stop to Nairobi. A little later, the Conakry flight had fallen off the board, and South African Airways SA057 to Johannesburg with a stop in Accra, appeared.
Wednesday, April 5, 2017
As was the case with the ancient Air Afrique, Air Côte d'Ivoire's most frequent route is between the two major francophone cities of West Africa: it's base in Abidjan and the capital of Senegal, Dakar. The airline runs the route twice per day— that computes to 14 flights per week, as this billboard, one of many copies currently found across the Ivorian capital, helpfully explains.
Tuesday, April 4, 2017
The other intersection of Air Afrique's complex politico-economic network was its base at Abidjan. After the demise of the pan-regional carrier in 2002, Côte d'Ivoire launched a succession of national carriers, first Air Ivoire and today Air Côte d'Ivoire.
Today—particularly with the sad degradation of Arik Air and other Nigerian attempts at a regional, trans-national carrier—this airline is perhaps the most important airline network in the region, stretching not only from Dakar to Douala, but also offering the rare handful of inter-languaphone connections across the English- and French-speaking postcolonial checkerboard of West Africa, with nonstops from Abidjan to Freetown, Monrovia, Accra, Lagos and even Abuja.
Like Air Afrique before it, and in a similar fashion to its only rival to regional dominance, the Ethiopian Airline's backed venture Asky, the Ivorian airline extends well into central Africa, with service to French-speaking Libreville and Brazzaville as well as its coastal oil city, Pointe-Noire, and even as far south as Kinshasa.
However, unlike Air Afrique and its immediate predecessor, Air Ivoire, Air Côte d'Ivoire has yet to launch any service outside of Africa, such as flights to Europe. Despite the volume of traffic between Abidjan and France, it is all taken up by Air France and other metropole companies. Air France/KLM Group's 20% stake in Air CIV likely explains the lack of intercontinental operations.
Sunday, April 2, 2017
The Timetablist celebrated the launch of Senegal Airlines in 2011, as it replaced the defunct Air Senegal and promised a bright future: well capitalized, with a new fleet, able to take advantage of Dakar's natural position at the far-western tip of the African continent.
Sadly, despite Senegal's continued stability and even growth, the airline lasted barely five years. This graphic, an unhelpfully small file size, is one of the few scraps of the airline's history that remains online. It shows the extent of the airline's ambition, although it is challenging to confirm what was realized: was there ever a secondary hub in Cotonou? Here is evidence that at least the Cotonou—Libreville operation existed. Was either Paris or Brussels ever served? Seems, definitely, no.
Saturday, April 1, 2017
Coming off of Air Afrique Week, the Timetablist back-catalogue is overflowing with examples of the post-Air Afrique era in Francophone West Africa.
Despite the ever-present turmoil of West Africa's airlines—the sad, sudden end of Air Mali in the throes of conflict, then the demise of Gambia Bird during the Ebola crisis, followed by the failure just last year of the once-promising Senegal Airlines venture, and most recently the alarming deterioration of Nigeria's premier carrier, Arik Air—somehow sparsely populated, isolated Mauritania has been able to keep its flag carrier, Mauritania Airlines International, in the skies.
Based at Nouakchott's brand-new Outoumsy International Airport, the state carrier has a small fleet of late-model B737-700s linking to nearby capitals. The route map here, taking up a window of the airline's ticket office in the Plateau business district of Dakar recently, shows a farther reach, such as dedicated routes to Cotonou and Brazzaville, which have, curiously, been crossed out from the map, while Abidjan was crossed out, perhaps by mistake, and then scribbled back in. The routes are not necessarily reflective of actual operations as the Bamako and Conakry flights are normally linked via Dakar, for example.
What remains on the map, although, is not a reality, is the route shown to Paris at the top of the dial, without a shape for France, only existed for about two years. Despite this inconsistency, Mauritania Airlines does reach the European Union by way of its Nouakchott—Nouadhibou—Las Palmas service, in the nearby Canary Islands. Zoueratt is shown as the only other domestic route of this "international" airline.
Friday, March 31, 2017
Following on from the previous post, this large-format map allows for a close examination of the regional network of Air Afrique. This network was both extensive and limited, paradoxically, in that it connected the capital cities of the ten member states with an impressive array of links, and yet at the same time served very few other cities in the region and no secondary cities within any country at all, except for the single example that proves the rule: Pointe-Noire, the seaside petrol port in the Congo Republic. But no Nouadhibou, for instance.
Outside of the major cities of its member-states, only Conakry and Lagos are served in Western Africa. Monrovia, Freetown, and Accra are bypassed. In Central Africa, the former member states of Cameroon and Gabon, which both subsequently set up their own national carriers, are still part of the system. Douala is connected to Bangui, Brazzaville, Cotonou, and Lagos—the latter a singular example of a non-member city connected with a non-member city. Even at this scale, it is unclear if the Douala—Cotonou route actually stopped in Malabo or this is just the confusion of the cartography. Likewise, Libreville is linked to Brazzaville, Lomé, and Lagos. No Yaoundé, however.
A small detail that is easy to miss given the contours of the continental shelf is the Dakar—Las Palmas route.
Thursday, March 30, 2017
Fitting to end this year's Air Afrique Week with one of the most magnificent items of the airline's heritage that this blog has been able to feature: a 1987 route map, found recently on the wall of a travel agency in Dakar, Senegal.
The Map is based on a popular wall map that was widely distributed in the 1980s, and although strikingly colorful it is not particularly faithful to terrain or topography. It is generally a poor decision to begin a route map from a conventional map, as generally the original cartographer has already displayed a surfeit of information which is extraneous to displaying the airline's route system.
While that is especially true in this case, as a Mercator Projection version of this map is thoroughly critiqued on this cartography blog, in this case the trouble is greatly mitigated by the use of white route lines against the dark, natural palette of the oceans and continents.
Being itself a wall-sized poster, this map is also large enough to visually convey the complex network of Air Afrique to the observer by its scale. Beyond the dense interlacing of its regional network (which will be more thoroughly examined in a separate, subsequent post) what is immediately evident are the long haul connections to other continents.
Chief among these are the many Trans-Saharan routes to France, especially the fountain shower emanating out of Paris: Bordeaux, Abidjan, Lome, Ouagadougou, Marseille, Lyon, Ouagadougou, Rome, N'Djamena, and Bangui.
The interior connections to southernly French cities was surely a stop-over operation: Bamako is connected only to Lyon and Marseille, for instance. Likewise, follow the many lines to see how Niamey, was linked to all three secondary French cities, including, apparently, via Agadez (gateway to vast Areva uranium mine that fuels most of France's public power utility) but not directly to Paris non-stop. Interestingly, one of the other cities not directly connected to Paris is one of the airline's main hubs: Dakar, which seems to be linked only via Nouakchott. or one of several other European cities.
These latter elements—Dakar to Bordeaux, Geneva, Rome, and Marseille— are separated out from the crowd by swinging in a dramatic, centripetal fashion westward, well over the North Atlantic. The only route to the west of this is reverse-S curve Dakar—New York service. As has been stated many times before during our Air Afrique weeks, as much prestige as the multiple routes to the metropole afforded, it was this lone transatlantic operation that was the flagship pride of the consortium.
It is easy in this rendering to overlook the other bell of Air Afrique's dual-hub network: Abidjan, whose ribboning loops link it across the region and again to Lyon, Marseille, Geneva, Bordeaux and again to Paris itself. The last intercontinental element is eastward endeavor from Chad to Jeddah, a nod to the pilgrimage traffic of so many Sahelians.
The following post will focus on the regional route network.
Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Here's a very unique magazine advertisement from about 1980, specifically targeted at African-American travelers wanting to "discover their heritage" by visiting West Africa. The black-and-white ad mentions Air Afrique's Saturday, 6pm Departures from New York-JFK non-stop to Dakar, and boasts of its vast network without specifically mentioning any other city.
Tuesday, March 28, 2017
Here is an artifact from early in the life of Air Afrique: an old-fashioned ticket and boarding pass from 1961. While the details of the flight are not shown, the departure tax stub <<redevance>> was issued by the A.S.E.C.N.A. ground agents in the Republic of the Congo, the southernmost member of the Air Afrique coalition—indicating that this was likely departing from either Brazzaville or Pointe-Noire. In those days, destinations were many, mostly neighboring Libreville, Douala, or perhaps N'Djamena or Bangui. The ticket jacket provides the address of the airline's headquarters in Abidjan—perhaps that was the ultimate destination of this itinerary.
Monday, March 27, 2017
A playing-card style pocket guide to Air Afrique's flagship transatlantic schedule as of May 2, 1980, showing the times for RK49 and RK50 to and from New York-JFK, a once-weekly operation originating in Abidjan on Saturdays, and linking at the pan-regional carrier's other base at Dakar, via Robertsfield in Monrovia, Liberia. Below this, the table shows the services of RK518, which offers a convenient connection to Lome, Togo on a Caravelle. On the lower right, RK107 begins at Lagos on Friday evenings, and connects through Abidjan via Lome, which the notes appear to show uses the same DC-8 that reaches the Air France terminal at JFK the following morning.
Sunday, March 26, 2017
Its been a few years since the Timetablist has held an Air Afrique Week to celebrate one of the greatest carriers in African aviation history. To kick off, here is a glorious example from early in the airline's life; a unique, colorful route map that not only cleverly represents the young airline's complex route system in much clearer fashion than more conventional formats.
To nitpick, it is perhaps slightly confusing just what city connects with what: is that a Dakar—Bordeaux—Paris routing, or Dakar to Paris non-stop? Likewise, it's slightly unclear which schedules are shown between Abidjan—Lomé—Niamey—Nice—Geneva.
The home state cities are in red; European destinations in green; slight size bias is given to Paris. None of these discs are comparable to the megaplanet that is NYC, the fledgling flag-carriers flagship transatlantic service, whose connecting schedule is listed at left: Kinshasa—Libreville—Lomé—Cotonou, which connects to the mainline DC-8 RK50 for Abidjan—Monrovia—Dakar—New York.
Thursday, February 2, 2017
Of the many arrows that have wounded the mighty Kenya Airways in the past several years—aside from the general decline of Africa's economies from the 'Africa Rising' decade of the early 2000s—the advent of low-cost rivals in its home region has only further eroded its growth.
More so than any other carrier, upstart Fastjet has stolen away passengers with its fleet of new planes offering staggering minuscule airfares. The airline did not decide to go head-to-head in Nairobi, basing its operations in Dar-es-Salaam, which has more of a supply vacuum.
Rumors that famed aviation entrepreneur Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou of Easyjet fame was launching another airline surfaced in 2011; specific plans for an African low-cost airline emerged in 2012 ahead of Fastjet's November 2012 launch.
Well capitalized, Fastjet grew quickly through 2015, but has since been dragged by the same headwinds that have hurt Kenya Airways. South Africa has gone from BRIC economy to sinking like a brick. Zimbabwe remains one of the world's least functional states, and Zambia's growth has evaporated with the slumping of the copper price. Not easy turf to turn a profit on.
Throughout last year, a dramatic boardroom battle played out across East African and global business papers, as Stelios mounted a campaign to reform the management of the ailing airline. The ouster was successful, however since that time Fastjet has left the Kenyan and Ugandan markets entirely, and its flights to Zanzibar lasted barely a year. Several of the services shown above, including its longest route, Dar—Johannesburg, have been scrapped. Still, the airline offers flights domestically within Tanzania and to four other countries, with many fares started at less than US$100.
Wednesday, February 1, 2017
The eastward route map of Kenya Airways shows the airline's on-going presence across Asia, with nonstops to Dubai, Mumbai, and Bangkok with onward service to Hong Kong, and its newest service, to Guangzhou via Hanoi. At a time of highly-publicized, humiliating troubles for the airline, after a decade of ambitious growth and fleet renewal, it appears that KQ's Asian network is still going strong.
This portion of the map also provides some detail on the airline wide-range connections across the east African coast, from Djibouti to Dzaoudzi. Also visible is the airline's new route to Bangui, the development that started this series of posts.
The map also includes a large variety of codeshare operations, which, as this blog has argued recently, is seldom helpful in a complex route map. While oneWorld partner flights across Asia, connecting to Seoul on Korean or Shanghai on China Southern, are somewhat illustrative, the services to Australia on Etihad are particularly odd, as Kenya Airways does not serve Abu Dhabi (the airline ended flights there in 2014). The Nairobi—Mauritius—Perth trans-Indian Ocean link is interesting.
Tuesday, January 31, 2017
This route map showing Kenya Airways's vast operations across Africa can be seen as something of a key to the graphic in the advertisement shown in yesterday's post, although, strangely, Bangui itself has been left off the map. Routes span outward from Nairobi, naturally, although KQ continues to maintain something of a mini-hub in Accra to connect to Freetown and Monrovia, and Bamako is linked in with Dakar. There is likewise a set of interlinking routes in Southern Africa, connecting Lilongwe with Lusaka, Lusaka with Harare, and Harare with Livingston, at Victoria Falls.
Monday, January 30, 2017
The last two posts have brought us to the Sahelian-Sudan region, a generally quiet corner of aviation history. Back in 2015, Kenya Airways, generally one of the powerhouses of the sub-Saharan skies, re-launched its flight to Bangui, in the Central African Republic, which it had suspended for more than three years due to the political crisis in the country, which resulted in U.N. intervention. KQ maintains direct flights from Nairobi JKIA to nearly two-thirds of the capitals of Africa; its many destinations are not labeled here and, confusingly are shown slightly out of place: Dakar a bit too north of where it should be, Johannesburg not quite south enough, Maputo too inland. It is easier in this map to see Jeddah, Dubai, Paris, London, Amsterdam, and even Mahe and Antananarivo. With the route network misaligned with the underlying geography, many cities can only be guessed at.
Sunday, January 29, 2017
The Imperial Airways posts this week concluded back in the historic Sudan, colocating with this colorful Sudanese envelope from thirty years later. The tri-color celebratory cover itself offers the route map of Sudan Airways, with twelve destinations from London to Beirut to Nairobi shown in bright, wide red bands, while a dozen other airfields, mostly configured in a latitudinal axis from Fort Lamy to Jeddah to Aden, seem secondary in blue. There isn't a map legend to fully explain the distinction, however.
A quadrant of dynamic scenes, the fleet of the state carrier, soars out of the more multicolored philately at top right: a DC-3 hums across a Nilotic sunset scene; beneath, a Fokker F-27 friendship as it rides over a purple landscape, a group of nomadic camel herders below. At lower right, all the superior speed of the flagship Comet 4C accelerates into rows of contrails, what seem to be the greens and blues of the very contours of the continents rush by in a blur.
Saturday, January 28, 2017
At the lower-left of the Imperial Airways route map, a round globe, the meridian region in front and daytime, the far east behind in the dark, shows, in simplified form, labelling each and every way station from Britain to South Africa and New South Wales. It is both so much clearer, and so much more complete, than the larger map, it is enough to wonder why the whole map was designed like this in the first place.