Thursday, January 11, 2007

IAH to LAD?

Photo of the Benguela airport, where I usually fly in/out of...

The other night I ran into Chris, the oil worker from New Orleans who had us over to his house for Thanksgiving dinner. He had just come back from his holiday home leave and reported that he flew back on the “oilman express,” the oil-company charted flight that leaves from Houston and goes directly to Luanda. This is the only flight that leaves the US and goes directly to Luanda (which, by the way, he says is 90% business class). Otherwise you have to travel like I did- to Europe and then Luanda. My trip took around 36 hours, not including drive time in Luanda (considerable), the wait in the airport for the flight to Lobito (very considerable), and then the actual flight to Lobito (incredibly, not long at all at only 45 minutes!).

Anyway, I expressed my envy to Chris, and he said, “Well, you know, TAAG is going to start a new flight from Houston to Luanda. I read it in the in-flight magazine!” I didn’t want to believe it, but folks, the dream is coming true! Even us non-petroleum Houstonians will be able to fly out of Intercontinental and into 4 de Fevereiro! I did some checking on-line, and of 5 big Boeings that the government of Angola purchased last November, one will be used for a HoustonLuanda route!

(The purchase of these airplanes was BIG news, something Angolans were very proud of. It was timed around Independence Day, November 11, and there was quite a big to-do surrounding the purchase. As you can see from the Angolan ambassador to the US’ remarks, all important Angolans were in Seattle for the ceremony. They showed it over and over on TPA, of course, and they kept showing the Boeing official say that this was the biggest one-time purchase an African nation had ever made. Badge of corruption for the government,perhaps?)

Another thing I came across while Googling was this tidbit about 4 de Fevereiro, Luanda’s international airport:

On May 25, 2003, another 727, US Number plate N844AA, was stolen off the tarmac of the airport. The aircraft was reported to be working for Air Angola at the time. The aircraft had reportedly been in Seychelles and had asked permission to land but had disappeared after that. There is considerable mystery surrounding the plane, as it had been parked on the tarmac for over a year accumulating airport fees exceeding $4,000,000.

Only in Angola will a 727 be “stolen” from the airport! Oh, the confusão!

1 comment:

sir_chancelot said...

I told my friend from the Turkish Consulate about the Oilman Express, and she said she had heard about it, but thought it was a joke! I set her straight. That would be nice to be able to do that one flight and be done with it all.