Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Kenya Airways: Africa in Focus, March 2016

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

Kenya Airways: The Return of Bangui, November 2015

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

Sudan Airways: 20th Anniversary Cover, December 1967

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

Imperial Airways Network, 1937: All Destinations

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. 

Friday, January 27, 2017

Imperial Airways, 1937: The African Routes

As with its trans-Asian operations shown yesterday, the technology available to Imperial Airways in the early age of aviation necessitated a series of regular way stations for the royal charter's southerly system spanning Africa.

After the upper Nile, the line made its way to Khartoum, whence it splits, with one line turning to the west: KanoLagosAccra and finally Takoradi, which only has domestic links today. There must have been pitstops in the drylands of French Central Africa but these are unnamed here; the paths of the green routes, connecting Algeria and Morocco to Niger and then the Congo, and reaching across to Madagascar, suggest French operations.

Continuing to follow the Nile south, the Cairo-to-Cape line stopped at Malakal, toady in South Sudan, then fanned across British East Africa in a complex web which appears to shown that one set of services remained inland along the Great Rift, passing through Nairobi on the way to Lusaka, Salisbury (today Harare) and Bulawayo in Rhodesia, and  then finally ending at Johannesburg

Another schedule reached the Swahili coast at MombasaDar Es Salaam(Ma)lindi and coastal Mozambique, with a bridge connection through Nyasaland at Blantyre, passing through Lourenço Marques (today Maputo) to terminate at Durban. The unlabeled green lines with the Union clearly suggest an early-stage South African Airways, reaching both Cape Town and Windhoek. 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Imperial Airways: The Empire Route, 1937

Continuing from yesterday's post, Imperial Airways's great Empire Route across south Asia and on to Australia features a number of small way stations which could hardly be found on a map today, much less having any import to commercial aviation. 

While Allahabad, in Uttar Pradesh, at least has an airport to this day, it is only served by a commuter connection from Delhi. Gwadar, the once-great Omani port of Baluchistan, is likewise a tiny regional airport today. In northwesternmost Burma, Akyab, known today as Sittwe, is similarly linked only to Yangon by regional airlines, although it has retained the original airport code AKY.

Somewhat bucking this trend is Koepang, in the pre-war era the next stop after Batavia (today Jakarta) and the largest city on Indonesian (west) Timor, which today hosts an active regional airport.

In Australia itself, tiny Normanton, Queensland, today has no air service and is best known for its historic, gold-rush era railway. Cloncurry, Queensland is likewise today a remote outpost without any air service. The third and final Queensland outpost before the coast, Charleville, retains an airport today, with Qantaslink service into Brisbane

Note that the map appears to keep some stations unlisted: it certainly appears that the trunk route makes a turn at Bangkok, but this is unlabeled, and there is an even more meandering line through Indochina up to Hong Kong, but no stops are shown here. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Imperial Airways: The Worldwide Routes, 1937

The David Rumsey Historical Map Collection is one of the world's great cartographic archives; with over 150,000 items in its holdings at Stanford University. Fully searchable and viewable online, it is a wonderful resource. 

The last post, with the global-projection map of Oman Air, has some affinity with the earliest route maps at the down of the pre-war commercial aviation era, specifically this detailed item showing the Air Lines of Imperial Airways in 1937, at an extent which would not be resurrected until after World War Two. 

What is particularly remarkable about this map is how complex it is, with two world projections duplicating similar information, which itself is intertwined with many various, and vaguely articulated 'cooperation' operations carried out by unnamed 'other air transport companies.' 

As expected, the trunk routes of the empire fan out from London, with a trans-European line spanning Central Europe to terminate at Budapest, while a second, trans-Mediterranean line runs from Marseille to Athens to Mirabella (today known as Elounda) in Crete, finally crossing the greater part of the middle sea to reach first Alexandria and then Cairo, from whence the great route begins to touch at way-stations within Britain's various post-Ottoman holdings in the Near East, and ultimately eastward to the major outposts of Empire in India, Malaya, and Australia, as we will see in the next post. 

A second line continues southward toward Luxor, continuing onwards to Sub-Saharan Africa, which a subsequent post will examine in detail.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Oman Air Route Network, December 2015: The Eastward Routes

Continuing from the previous post, Oman Air has followed the general strategy of all other Gulf carriers, by provided an extensive medium and long-haul network across South and Southeast Asia, best understood as serving the constant flow of labor migrants from the Philippines, Indonesia, India, Bangladesh and Pakistan into its home market and across the Gulf region.

Oman Air has yet to take on the business hubs of East Asia, although since this map was published in December 2015, the carrier has launched flights to Guangzhou, just last month.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Oman Air Route Network, December 2015: The Westward Routes

A completely thorough review of contemporary Gulf carriers must include the second-tier but rapidly growing Oman Air, which has swiftly moved from a minor regional carrier into a long-haul competitor. This spherical route map, from the airline's Wings of Oman in-flight magazine published at the end of 2015, shows six non-stops to Europe, operated variously by A330 and B787 aircraft, as well as the usual raft of regional destinations. Codeshares to Amsterdam, Istanbul, and Addis Ababa are marked in orange. 

What might be most notable about the airline's westward network are the pair of Sub-Saharan routes, both to Tanzania. An interesting fact: the capital of the Oman Empire was moved in the 19th century  Zanzibar, and there is enough trade and cultural links between ancient Muscat and the Swahili coast to maintain flights to the semi-autonomous island as well as the East African country's capital, Dar Es Salaam. Since this issue was published, Oman Air has announced new non-stops to Nairobi and Manchester. 

Friday, January 20, 2017

Qatar Airways Route Network, November 2016: Australasia

We end our examination of the global network of Qatar Airways back where we started: its Australian services, with non-stop flights to four Aussie cities. Perhaps more worthy of note is the recent development of the incredible, 18-hour DohaAuckland non-stop, which, however briefly, would be the world's longest non-stop flight, if and when its launch is no longer under delay. Currently, Emirates Dubai—Auckland holds the title. 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Qatar Airways Route Network, November 2016: East Asia

While Qatar Airways's global coverage thins out as it reaches the Pacific, the airline offers a respectable seven gateways into China, including Hangzhou, Chengdu, and Chongqing—one of the few external airlines to serve these secondary Chinese cities. Qatar Airways is also one of only a handful of airlines to serve Clark Airport in Subic Bay, in the Philippines—although Emirates also flies non-stop from Dubai, presumably as a conduit for labor migrants to the Gulf region. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Qatar Airways Route Network, November 2016: South Asia

Like its Gulf rivals, Qatar Airways has blanketed South Asia with direct service to more than two-dozen cities: seven in Pakistan and thirteen in India. Too many to label here, but like Emirates and Etihad, Qatar acts as a de-facto state carrier not for the Gulf region but for the Indian subcontinent. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Qatar Airways Route Network, November 2016: The GCC and South America

Like Etihad and Emirates, the ultra-long haul routes to South America are Qatar Airways rarest expeditions. A single DohaSão PauloBuenos Aires route makes Hamad International Airport a six-continent hub. 

Given the dearth of Latin American routes, this corner of the route map features an eye-glass inset of the GCC, showing Qatar's numerous routes to the UAE, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia, which connect on Qatar to an impressive eight destinations, including Hofuf, which premieres on the Timetablist here for the first time. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Qatar Airways Route Network, November 2016: North America

As with other continents and corners of the globe, Qatar Airways has differentiated itself from its Gulf rival Emirates but reaching cities not served by the Dubai-based megacarrier. Of the 11 North American destinations, four of them: Montreal, Miami, Philadelphia, and Atlanta, are not served by Emirates. Philadelphia and Miami can be explained primary due to Qatar's partnership with American Airlines through the oneWorld alliance, although this is increasingly under strain.

Qatar just celebrated 5 years in Montreal, which sees carriers from across the near Arab world, including Royal Jordanian, Royal Air Maroc, Air Algerie and Tunisair, as the city is a major destination for global migrant,s especially from the francophone world. Atlanta was an interesting choice for Qatar's tenth U.S. city, a destination made not in cooperation with, but more in spite of hometown Delta Air Lines

Conversely, it is interesting to see that Qatar is absent from such primary gateways as San Francisco and Toronto. 

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Qatar Airways Route Network, November 2016: The African Routes

Qatar Airways has not merely mimicked its rival Emirates in expanding across Africa, but has in several cases gone beyond the Dubai-based carrier to destinations which it now serves alone. These include more recent additions to the Qatar network, such as Kigali, Maputo (which has had a short and somewhat rocky history as a destination, served thrice-weekly with a Dreamliner), Marrakesh and Windhoek (added only back in October), but also more proximate East African destinations such as Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar (the latter served by flyDubai). The airline competes with Emirates on the major routes from Cape Town to Casablanca, but is not anywhere near as strong in West Africa, flying only to Lagos

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Qatar Airways Route Network, November 2016: Europe (2)

A second post on the same section of Qatar Airway's route map, showing its nearly 40 non-stops to Europe, including four cities in the UK, and three in Italy, including Pisa

Qatar Airways Route Network, November 2016: Europe

Like it's arch-rival Emirates, Qatar Airways blankets Europe with over two-dozen non-stops from Doha, although many of these are with its narrow-body A320 aircraft, the airline also intersperses its A330, B777, and B787 widebodies into these operations. Paris and London also see Qatar's double-decker A380 superjumbos. Qatar serves a number of cities which seldom see intercontinental flights, especially in southeastern Europe and the Balkans: Sarajevo and Skopje in particular. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Qatar Airways Route Network, November 2016: the Near East

The route map from a recent copy of Qatar Airways's Oryx in-flight magazine is rendered in a delightful mosaic style which disregards national borders or indeed physical topography. While the coastlines of continents are faithfully represented in detail, the landmasses almost look to be assembled in stained glass. 

Overlaid on these overlapping watercolors are the close-laid threads of Qatar Airways vast, six-continent network, today one the very largest of any of the world's airlines. The grey strokes flow outward from Doha in graceful parallels, almost like strands of baleen. 

Over the next week, we will examine this vast route map in detail, but begin here at the center of the map, which shows destinations of the greater Near East, such as the dense service to Mesopotamia and the Caucus. We will look at the huge number of European routes in the following post.  

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Qatar Airways: Daily to Adelaide, May 2016

In continuing to look at the airlines of the Gulf, we necessarily turn to Qatar Airways, which is today almost as much a global benemoth as its archrival, Emirates, based just 278km due east of Doha

Qatar has capitalized on its geolocation in the same manner as Emirates, and this includes competing on the Kangaroo routes from Europe to Australia, although its challenging to match the partnership of between Emirates and Qantas

Of Qatar Airways's relentless expansion which continued in 2016, daily service to Adelaide began in May with a brand-new A350. The surfboard motif is here used to show the map of the continental nation, each board with one of Qatar's four Australian destinations. 

Monday, January 9, 2017

Gulf Air Network, October 2016: The Eastward Routes

Our final post on Gulf Air looks at its flights to South Asia and its few remaining long-haul services to the Pacific Rim, which today consist only of Bangkok and Manila. India and Pakistan are still thoroughly covered. 

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Gulf Air Network, October 2016: The Westward Routes

Continuing from the previous postGulf Air still has a strong presence in its home region, particularly into Saudi Arabia, with service to six cities including smaller airports like Taif and Gassim. There are also flights to three cities in Iran. Gulf Air was once a bigger actor in Eastern Africa having withdrawn from Nairobi only as recently as 2012, but today only reaches Khartoum and Addis Ababa

Note that the map on the last post boasted of 42 cities in 25 countries, whereas this counts 44 cities in 24 countries. 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Gulf Air Network, October 2016

The Timetablist has discussed the stagnation of Gulf Air before—its steady decline in the face of the rise of the ME3 megacarriers, from a pan-Gulf flag-carrying air confederation to the state airline of only tiny Bahrain

As we have been updating our coverage of the Gulf-3 super airlines, it seems appropriate to add in some recent publications from little Gulf Air. The airline still flies to more than 40 cities on three continents, with a presence at several European cities, although it is somewhat shocking that flights such as those to Frankfurt are served on narrowbody A320 planes. Our last post on Gulf Air noted the re-launch of Athens flights in 2014. 

The next two posts will examine the African and Middle Eastern routes first, and the South and Southeast Asian routes second. 

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Etihad Route Map, September 2016: The Americas

Etihad operates some of the longest non-stop flights in the world from Abu Dhabi to the Western Hemisphere, as shown here on the left-hand side of its route map from last fall. While the 11 to 13 hour runs to New York JFK and Washington Dulles (launched in 2013) are hardly short-haul, it is the airline's 16 to 17 hour jaunts to California that remain atop the rankings: Abu Dhabi—Los Angeles, commenced in October 2013, is 5th, Abu Dhabi—San Francisco is 10th. Abu Dhabi—Dallas is 15th. It should also be noted that Etihad was the first of the ME3 to serve Chicago, first reaching the mid-American metropolis in 2009 as its second U.S. city—half a decade before Emirates and Qatar finally served O'Hare.

As with the Europe map, the North American cartography is a confusing jumble of codeshare connections, a knot of blue lines nearly obliterating the destinations at Etihad actually does serve. 

The single South American route, the non-stop to Sao Paulo, gives the airline and its home airport claim to six continent service, one of only a few airlines and airports that can boast such breadth. It was therefore all the more surprising that Etihad has been forced to retreat from the market: the last non-stop between Abu Dhabi at Brazil will fly in late March, a stunning defeat for a Gulf megacarrier.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Etihad Route Map, September 2016: Europe

Continuing to perhaps unfairly compare Etihad to its larger rival Emirates, the twenty European cities which connect to Abu Dhabi is impressive coverage for most carriers. The range of destinations reveal as much about Etihad's aggressive acquisition strategy over the last decade as the connectivity to the continent. 

Etihad today has stakes in Alitalia (hence Milan and Rome), Air Berlin (hence the flight into Düsseldorf), Air Serbia (how else to explain the flight to Belgrade) and completely rebranded Swiss regional airline Darwin into Etihad regional, which interconnects the center of Europe. 

As interesting as this somewhat incongruous string of purchases is, it begins to make for a very messy map. There are far more blue "partner" flights on this small inset graphic than the single fan of bright red links to Abu Dhabi. Together it makes the route map much too busy and challenging to read: even the black city labels in Central Europe are nearly blotted out. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Etihad Route Map, September 2016: East Asia & Australia

Continuing on from the previous post, the right-hand side of Etihad's route map shows its presence in East Asia and the key Australian routes, including Melbourne and Sydney, two of the airline's five A380 destinations. BeijingNagoya is a rare non-direct-to-Abu Dhabi connection for Etihad, which even has fifth-freedom rights within the route. Likewise, Chengdu is a rather daring entry into central China in what is otherwise a strategy strictly limited to primary cities—perhaps the airline was stung by the failure of its Chonqing service—one of only a handful cities that Etihad has retreated from. Qatar Airways has followed Etihad, launching flights to Chengdu in 2013

Monday, January 2, 2017

Etihad Route Map, September 2016: South Asia

Like its Gulf siblings, Etihad and the UAE rely on commercial, trade, and labor links with South Asia for primary sustenance. Abu Dhabi's state carrier therefore serves the region respectably, from Karachi to Kozhikode to Kolkata to Kathmandu, if, again, not quite as exhaustively as its rival Emirates, it has recently upgraded its flights to Mumbai to its double-deck A380, one of only five cities in the network that see such girth. The next post will look further east to its Australiasian services. 

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Etihad Route Map, September 2016: the Near Asian & East African Routes

Picking up from where we left off before the end of the year, when we had exhaustively examined the redesign of Emirates Airline's route map, here is the example of its counterpart, barely 130 kms down the national highway in Abu Dhabi: Etihad, officially the national airline of the UAE. 

The smaller but, if anything, more luxurious rival connects its home base to six continents, shown here and in the next several posts of this week with an examination of its rather pedestrian route map from the September edition of its in-flight publication. 

Starting in this post, the routes radiate out from Abu Dhabi, as does every single flight of the airline. The airlines geographic extent mirrors, in lesser form, the six-continent coverage of its rival. All the usual regional capitals are served, but more often with narrow-body A320s than with the widebodies of Emirates. Equally well-covered are the south Asian gateways, economically important but also bridges to the vast majority of the UAE's foreign labor force.

We will look further east in Asia in the next few posts, but for now it is interesting to note the strong appearances in Kazakhstan. While a number of airlines fly to Almaty, the former capital and large commercial center, it is somewhat rarer to also service Astana, the new-built capital on the steppes. 

With far fewer routes to Africa than Emirates, Etihad has but one interesting distinction, if not exactly an advantage: its non-stop flight to Mahe is in cooperation with Air Seychelles, in which Eithad acquired a 40% stake.