Sunday, November 29, 2020

First Flight Cover: Inaugural Olympic Airways Kangaroo Route, March 1972

 The Timetablist periodically features rare examples of the famous Europe-to-Australia "Kangaroo Route" from decades in the past, and as this month comes to a close it is noted that we nearly passed out of the Eastern Mediterranean region, which has been the focus of this November, and indeed through Athens itself without featuring this article: a First Flight Cover Envelope commemorating the inauguration of Olympic Airways's AthensBangkokSingaporeSydney trans-equatorial trunk route, which launched on 3 March, 1972.  

The envelope features a vaguely Oriental motif of an orange-red Rising Sun as backdrop to an ensemble of caricatures: a stepped pagoda-temple roof, under which the head of a stereotypically East Asian peasant squints underneath an iconic conical hat, overload with some sort of bamboo staff, which is joined by a sharp-jointed Kangaroo, erect but indifferent, facing away from the viewer. At the upper right, a B720-style quadjet whisks toward the cancelation step, a specialized imprint which repeats the itinerary in English and Greek, angle-impressed upon a Hellenic stamp which features the Terrace of Lions at Delos. 

Olympic would keep its Antipodean link almost up until its demise, serving both the sizable Greek-Aussie community in Melbourne and Sydney as well as a cheap backpacker's shuttle to bumming around Southeast Asia. Although there are no longer any Greek trans-hemispheric airlines today, there is still a popular Athens-to-Singapore discount route, as discussed earlier this month

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Air Liban to Europe and Africa, c.1952

 Prior to becoming Middle East Airlines, the flag carrier of Lebanon was known as Air Liban. Formed in 1945, it quickly expanded across Southwest Asia, Europe and into Africa as reflected in the destination list on this vintage brochure: Near East destinations include Aleppo and Baghdad, and fourth city is listed Jerusalem—a somewhat remarkable historical phenomenon, although this likely references the old Atarot Airport, at the time located in the Jordanian-annexed West Bank. Regardless, "Jerusalem" makes its Timetablist debut here. 

Further into the Gulf extends a spine of JeddahDhahranDohaKuwait; it is important to realize that, long before the rise of thee Gulf super-carriers, MEA/Air Liban was the primary airline of the Arab World, as its expansive name implies. 

Looking Westward, Air Liban ran its "swift Super DC-6C planes" to Nicosia, Ankara, Istanbul and to its only Western European capital, Paris, while send a second route to Cairo and Tripoli, with its most southernly service across the Red Sea to Khartoum, then spanning the vast Sahara to reach Kano, Lagos, Accra, Abidjan, and finally terminating at Dakar. This unusual number of West African destinations linked the Syrian-Lebanese commercial diaspora of coastal urban West Africa to their homeland. 

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Athens Airport Departure Board, 19 August 2017 (2)

Continuing from the previous post, the departures leading to the noon hour shown on a second screen at Athens International Airport on 19 August 2017. Since the demise of Olympic Airways as a six-continent carrier, the number of intercontinental flights out of Athens is not what it once was, but here we see several of the current long-hauls, with two flights at 11:30 to Asia, low-cost Dreamliner operation Scoot to Singapore, and Air China's triangular routing to Beijing via Munich

In the other direction, a quarter hour later American's summer non-stop to Philadelphia is already preparing for boarding, while Air Canada leaves for Montreal at noon, a seasonal, tri-weekly flight filled by the many Greek-Canadians who come back to their ancestral homeland. The only other true flag carrier on the board is Middle East Airlines 11:15 hop to Beirut

Other than European budget operations like Germania, the time block contains the usual smattering of domestic island services on Aegean—almost all operated by Dash-8 props of its subsidiary Olympic, as noted by the "A3 7" flight numbers—to Alexandropolis, Paros, Santorini, and Leros. Smaller domestic enterprises Sky Express to Chios and Astra to Mitlini (Mytlene) on Lesbos. 


Thursday, November 12, 2020

Athens Departure Board, 19 August 2017 (1)

 Two hours of mid-morning departures at Athens during what is by far the busiest time of year: the mid-August tourist rush. This block of flights are split between European connections: Geneva on Swiss, Istanbul on Turkish, Schönefeld and Orly on Easyjet—with a contingent of the airport's constant bank of domestic flights. 

The storied Olympic name is still in use—a brand bought out of bankruptcy and now operating as only a prop-plane domestic carrier—with flights to Heraklion, Santorini, Kalamata in southwestern Peleponnese, and a squadron of Cycladic flights all departing at 10:40 to spread to Naxos, Paros, Mykonos and the Ionian isle of Zakynthos

Olympic is not alone in the Greek domestic airspace: smaller private upstart Ellinair links to the northern secondary city of Thessaloniki, where is has its home base. Romanian low-cost airline Blue Air flies to the world's only other Greek-speaking state, Cyprus, and its main airport at Larnaca. There is a second flight to Larnaca at 10:35, showing a codeshare with Air Canada. This is on Aegean, which is today the de facto Greek flag carrier and parent company to Olympic. The extent of Aegean's pan-European reach is indicated by the less-common destinations on the board: Dubrovnik and Lisbon

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Air Malta Network, Summer 2011


Malta has long acted as a crossroads of the Mediterranean: stage of empires, prophets, and crusades. Today it is a densely-populated, package-tour destination, home to a sizable contingent of Ryanair retirees, and more recently has earned a (dis)reputation as a corrupt tax haven

All these priorities are reflected in the reach of its long-operating flag carrier, Air Malta. There are numerous links in the eastern Mediterranean: Athens, Istanbul, and Larnaca, and eight airports in Italy, including several that don't see many foreign carriers, like Verona, or the cities on the nearby boot and isle of Sicily: Catania and Reggio Calabria—here making its Timetablist debut.

Likewise, there is an abundance of service to the UK and Germany, true to the island's nature as a holiday-break hub. Secondary cities such as Aberdeen, Leeds, and East Midlands in Britain and Bremen, Dresden, Hamburg, Hanover and Stuttgart in Germany. 

Curiously, the map also has small insets at left, with the central portion of the United States East Coast above, and the Gulf below. The former is marked with two destination dots: "Newark" and "Manhattan" while Abu Dhabi is denoted on the latter. However, Air Malta has never had either wide-body, long-haul aircraft nor has it ever served any long-haul destinations, not to the Middle East and certainly not transatlantically. These are surely some sort of code-share designation, but that is not explained; furthermore, unless Air Malta has a partnership with a Helicopter service, in no way does it actually serve Manhattan any more than any other airline, codeshare or not. 

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Libyan Arab Airlines Network, 1977

Following on from the previous post, here is a newspaper advertisement for Libyan Arab Airlines from a few years later, which centers around substantially the same route map from 1974, but without the excursion across the Sahara (no Khartoum, Agadez, nor Niamey), with only the addition of FrankfurtDamascus and Jeddah in the intermittent years, and with Geneva substituted by Zürich.

The map is also, except for Sebha, absent the extensive domestic network—perhaps not provided for this circumstance, which appears to be aimed at the business traveler to the "Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya" —"*Libya1 flies the best reasons," it declares, boasting of its 40x weekly Tripoli-Benghazi shuttle service, its "whisper" quiet B-727-200s, and its growth rate. The copy concludes with the emphatic: "We are Libya 1." which isn't precisely grammatically correct. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Libyan Arab Airlines: Route Networks and Timetable, 1974


A few pages from a timetable brochure for Libyan Arab Airlines, the flag carrier of the then-5 year old Jamahiriya.

The route map shows a barbell-style network, centered around the primary cities of Tripoli and Benghazi—Libya's second city on the Mediterranean coast acting as an eastern gateway to Athens, Beirut, and Cairo, with the latter taking  southward turn to continue to Khartoum

From the capital, a single dotted line indicates trans-Saharan route links the midland settlement of Sebha before crossing into Niger, linking Agadez and ending at Niamey. A handsome Boeing 727-200 angles across the Algeria-Mali border. 

The second, smaller map covers the same Mediterranean region but shows only the domestic system, an extensive operation from the main cities to ten regional towns, including Misrata, Tobruk, and several, such as Ghadames, Ghat, and Marsa Al Brega, debuting on the Timetablist with this post. 

Inside the brochure, a traditional grid timetable displays the weekly schedules, including the equipment used: even in this period Libyan Arab Airlines used nearly an all-jet fleet of Boeing B720Bs, B727s, Douglas DC-9s, and Sud-Aviation Caravelles

Monday, November 2, 2020

ALIA: The Royal Jordanian Airline Network, 1984-85

A loose cartography to show the route system of Alia: The Royal Jordanian Airline in the mid-1980s, when the carrier had ambitiously reached four continents, but had not yet been rebranded as simply "Royal Jordanian' —the Alia was the name of the King Hussein's daughter, the Princess, a very curious nomenclature for a commercial carrier. 

The map spreads out the many European destinations served from Amman, as many as 15 apparently, including the somewhat unusual cities such as Belgrade and Bucharest; although these lesser cities likely saw the B707 and B727, at the time, the L-1011 was becoming the workhorse of the fleet

Most notably, Alia carried the crown of Hashemite throne to distant Chicago and distant Los Angeles, via Vienna, as well as New York via Amsterdam, possibly utilizing the airline's B747-200s, of which there were as many as three during the 1980s. Today the successor carrier still serves O'Hare, non-stop with debasing graphite-grey B787 Dreamliners.

Alia offered a comprehensive schedule across its immediate region, from Tripoli and Tunis in North Africa to Beirut and Damascus in the Levant to the many capitals of the Gulf—note that the map once again takes its liberties, showing the Doha-Muscat link leaping to the left, making room for the Dubai-Karachi connection below. The two east Asian services, nonstops to Bangkok and Singapore, are set apart. Looking closely, the airline's sole domestic destination, Aqaba, is shown directly below the hub.

Gulf Air Network, c.1975


The wingspan of the Golden Falcon of Gulf Air reached broadly across the Eurasian continent in the mid-1970s, emblazoned on the tail of the consortium airline's new quad-jet VC-10s as they roared across the skies from Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Doha to London Heathrow in the west and from Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Muscat to Bombay and Karachi in the east. 

The duality of this network map is not fully explained, as an abundance of other regional cities, from Salalah to Shiraz, Beirut to Bandar Abbas to Baghdad, Amsterdam to Athens to Amman, are shown with dotted lines and smaller outline labels. These are presumably secondary routes, served by the airline's F-27 Friendships and BAC 1-11s, first purchased in 1970, although presumably the larger planes flew the routes from the home bases to Paris and onward to Amsterdam—such non-stop service was made possible by the imminent arrival of the airline's new flagship L-1011 aircraft. It's not specified what airport is referenced by "Cyprus" but presumably this is Larnaca

To the right, the map is repeated in Arabic, although the secondary lines are not dotted, making the Middle East—Paris—Amsterdam route clearer, and curiously Cyprus is excluded altogether from that corresponding map.