A selection of timetables dating from 1961 shows the airline networks of five African-owned airlines: Ethiopian Airlines, Ghana Airways, Nigeria Airways, Sierra Leone Airlines, and Sudan Airways. In addition to serving a very utilitarian purpose, providing practical travel information such as schedules, maps, and information for passengers, they offered the promise of the excitement and glamour of travel, advertising destinations both near and far.
All timetables on this page are part of the George M. Foster Timetable Collection, Transportation Library.
Sudan established a national airline in 1956, the same year as its independence. By 1961, the date of the timetable shown here, the airline connected London, Rome, Athens, Cairo, and Khartoum with its twice-weekly Blue Nile Viscount service. Domestically, the airline served an extensive network including Atbara, El Fashir, El Obeid, Geneina, Kassala, Juba, Khartoum, Kosti, Malakal, Port Sudan, Wadi Halfa, Wad Medani, and Wau. Information for passengers, including fares and rates, baggage allowances, passport requirements, and stopovers, provides insight into the passenger experience of the time.
Prior to Ghana’s independence in 1957, the country was served by British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) and West African Airways, a partnership between the colonial governments of the Gambia, Ghana, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone. Ghana Airways was established the year following independence. By 1961, the date of the timetable shown here, the airline was wholly government-owned and on a course toward expansion, with routes connecting Ghana with points in Africa, Europe, and the Middle East.
Ethiopian Airlines promoted its recently-introduced service linking East and West Africa, with connections to Ghana, Liberia, and Nigeria in its timetable effective December 1, 1961, the fifteenth year of the airline’s service. Indeed, a note on the timetable’s back cover indicates that it was collected in Accra in February, 1962. The guide includes system schedules, a system map, general passenger information, and fares.
Like Sierra Leone Airways, Nigeria Airways was formed in 1958 upon dissolution of West African Airways, following the achievement of independence and withdrawal from WAAC by member nation Ghana. The airline’s 1961 timetable lists service to destinations both domestic and international, together with fares and rates, just three years after the airline’s founding, and only one year after Nigeria achieved its own independence and took over operations of the airline from a partnership that included BOAC and the colonial Nigerian government.
Sierra Leone Airways
Sierra Leone Airways, like Ghana Airways and Nigeria Airways, came out of West African Airways Corporation after its dissolution in 1958. Its 1961 timetable represents the airline’s first year of operation in a country free of colonial rule, as Sierra Leone achieved its independence on April 27 of that year. In a country not well connected by ground transportation networks, air travel was promoted on the timetable’s cover as “the most convenient and most comfortable way to travel within Sierra Leone,” with daily service connecting Freetown with Bo, Kenema, Daru, and Yengema.