Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Norwegian Long Haul: Current and Future Routes, Summer 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. 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Royal Air Maroc: the African Routes, 2011

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 NouakchottBamakoOuagadougouNiamey, while there also seems to be a direct route to Bamako itself. There looks to be a link between CasablancaAbidjanPort 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

Royal Air Maroc: New York to Brazzaville, 2016

"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

Royal Air Maroc: Conakry to Beirut, March 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

Royal Air Maroc: Casablanca—Washington, September 2016

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

Air Algérie: Montréal-Algiers, March 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

Tunisair: Tunis to Montreal, June-September 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

Tunisair Network, Early 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: Two New Destinations: Conakry and Constantine, March 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

Abidjan: Evening Arrivals, 19 March 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

Abidjan: Evening Departures, 23 March 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

Air Côte D'Ivoire: Twice Daily to Dakar from Abidjan, Spring 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

Air Côte d'Ivoire: The Regional Network, March 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

Senegal Airlines Route Network, 2015

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

Mauritania Airlines Network, March 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—NouadhibouLas Palmas service, in the nearby Canary Islands. Zoueratt is shown as the only other domestic route of this "international" airline. 

Friday, March 31, 2017

Air Afrique Route Network, 1987 (2 of 2)

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 DakarLas Palmas route. 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Air Afrique: The Four Continent Route Map, 1987.

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

Air Afrique: Discover your Heritage, c.1980

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

Air Afrique, Boarding Pass from the Congo, 1961

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

Air Afrique: The Transatlantic Schedule, May 1980

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

Air Afrique: Africa, Europe, and NYC, 1972

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 DakarBordeauxParis routing, or Dakar to Paris non-stop? Likewise, it's slightly unclear which schedules are shown between AbidjanLoméNiameyNiceGeneva

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: KinshasaLibreville—Lomé—Cotonou, which connects to the mainline DC-8 RK50 for Abidjan—Monrovia—Dakar—New York.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Fastjet Network, April 2016

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. 

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

Kenya Airways: The Asian Network, April 2016

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 NairobiMauritius—Perth trans-Indian Ocean link is interesting.

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.