Air travel in Jute
Air travel in Jute is severely constrained by economical, social and environmental factors and so has less importance as a method of transport than in most other countries, with seaplanes used as a faster alternative to ships for domestic travel between Sitti and Numudu or to remote coastal or riverside communities, and regular planes mostly used as a faster method for international travel, primarily Thuyo.
Aviation in Jute began with the introduction of carrier pigeons in the 17th century, used to transport messages and small cargo such as medicine, herbs or spices. Transport of larger cargo and passengers began in the early 20th century with the operations of seaplanes, used first by Balak officials and troops during the existence of Balak Numudu mostly in the northern part of the main island. Regular airplanes could not land on Jute until 1959, when Sitti Airfield was constructed.
Avian carriers in Jute
This section is empty.
Dahohin a Sitti
|Owner/Operator||General Meeting of the Community of Jute|
|Location||Nonaf a dahohin|
|Opened||November 27, 1958|
|Elevation AMSL||98 ft / 30 m|
Sitti Airfield is the only aerodrome in Jute from which scheduled international flights start. It is a simple airfield with limited facilities and so generally not regarded as a proper airport. It is managed by the General Meeting of the Community of Jute. Located to the west of the northern and main part of the urban region of Sitti in the plain of Netu nav tahoonede, it is part of the community of Dahohin, neighboring the settlement with the same name on one side and the Taxoone tropical rain forest on the other side. As with most of Jute, it experiences daily rain, during which air travel is suspended.
History and controversy
Main article: 1958 Airport crisis
Prior to the existence of Sitti Airfield, only seaplanes could be used in Jute, landing on Lake Samwati or the harbors of Sitti and Numudu. This was mostly done by Balak colonial officials, who had erected a seaplane base in the lake. It was abandoned with the de facto end of Balak Numudu in 1955. However, Jute remained of strategic importance to the remaining territories making up the Balak Empire, and with the rise of regular planes and due to the disadvantages inherent to seaplanes such as less reliable operational availability due to many of them being unable to land or start in rough sea or other similar conditions, the need for regular airports grew. The island of Jute, strategically located at the edge of the Saru Sea, the Sea of Lahan and the Asura Ocean between Püzimm and Lahan, was periodically considered as a site for one such airport that could serve as base allowing for refueling and supply of aircraft and thus easier control of the airspace and waters surrounding southern Lahan and the smaller outlyling islands. Local opposition both in Thuyo and Jute as well as financial constraints however prevented the construction of any airport on the island.
This changed less than three years later in early 1958 when a Sonkhai-Thuyoan NGO called Society For Glorious Health Development in the Kothlenosphere appeared. It appealed to the General Meeting of the Community of Jute and claimed a proper airfield would be needed for medical evacuations to Thuyo and a better supply with medicine in general and offering to finance the construction of one, the General Meeting of the Community was persuaded to reverse its previous no-airfield policy in August 1958, following a promise there would be no military flights.
After some deliberation and consultation with various communities and assemblies around Jute the plain of Netu nav tahoonede was chosen as a site for the airfield, as it was near the biggest city on Jute and also had good options for connections to the main transport infrastructure of the island, being located near the Tahonaha River, the biggest river of the island, and not too far from the existing Sitti-Numudu railway. A new railway connecting to it as well as a channel to the river were at first planned but never realized due to monetary and time constraints as well as local environmental concerns. Similar problems and concerns prevented the construction of a regular tarmac or concrete runway, as a result Balak military engineers that led the building effort invented a new type of surfacing called square-mesh prefabricated jute (SMPJ) that involved a metal grid consisting of steel wires that is rolled onto graded earth (known as square mesh track or SMT), with jute cloths soaked in asphalt laid on top, a mixture sometimes also called 'prefabricated Hessian surfacing' (PHS).
Despite all the concessions and the approval by the General Meeting of the Community, the very idea of an airport remained hugely controversial and faced massive opposition in many communities, especially some near the proposed airfield site. This was worsened by accusations of Thuyoan dissidents and Neviran journalists that the NGO had been colluding with or even being a front for the colonial government of Thuyo due to its largely unexplained sources of financing and its goals conspicuously aligning with those of the Thuyoan ruling elite. Due to the few communication channels to other countries at the time this was not known to the local population on Jute at the time the confederal assembly agreed to the construction and so had not influenced local decision-making, but several days later news of the accusations reached the islands, and heightened tensions, leading to the 1958 Airport crisis.
Later reveals proved that the Society had at least maintained close contact with the colonial government on Lahan and selected the year to take advantage of the need of the Thuyoan regime for an additional base for operations that sought to suppress growing unrest during the 1958 Utogo independence crisis, or had even acted directly on behalf of the regime to further its imperial interests.
A tower and a simple terminal building and hangar were after major difficulties and delays caused by the Airport crisis erected later in the same year, using mostly prefabricated metal sheets, and this enabled the airport to still be ready for the first flights before the end of the year, on November 27, 1958. The first plane from Thuyo landed three days later, and took off successfully the following day, carrying most of the Balak engineers and officials overseeing the construction back to Thuyo and Sonka. Despite the quick opening of the airfield, it saw no actual military use in the following years, leading to the promise of the airfield remaining exclusively civilian in nature remaining unbroken unintentionally.
Due to insufficient funds and disuse, the tower collapsed in 1971 and was not rebuilt, with a small shelter on the roof the terminal building acting as a substitute. Until 2003, when a regular connection to Khįtiyou in Thuyo was established, the airport only saw occasional use by international aid agencies that used it mostly to supply medicines and evacuate patients in needing of advanced medical treatment. In 2015, with the opening of the airstrip on Kosomo, Sitti Airfield became the destination of the first domestic supply and evacuation flights using regular airplanes on Jute. However, these are not scheduled flights, but happen on a per need basis, commonly approximately every two months. Passengers are only very rarely carried on that route.
The airport is managed by the General Meeting of the Community of Jute, the highest level assembly of Jute, which provides funds for maintenance, enacts regulations, decides on contracts with foreign airlines, appoints the air control team and publishes vacancies for volunteers, as due to the low usage of the airfield and the unusual economic system of Jute there are no permanent employees.
A basic terminal exists with a single check-in desk, security control and passport check as well as a single gate, but aside from a public bathroom and pigeongram station, no other amenities are available. Streetfood and hospitality services are available in the nearby settlement of Dahohin. The runway is relatively short at 855 m and consists of square-mesh prefabricated jute surfacing, a mixture of jute fibers and asphalt laid on top of a wire grid ('square mesh track' or SMT) on top of graded grass.
For aircraft, a single small hangar is available, as well as a basic fire service consisting of a modified bicycle with fire extinguishers. A tower currently does not exist, and neither does ground lighting, so night approaches are dangerous and generally not permitted. The small air control team operates from a small shelter on top of the roof of the terminal building and uses a windsock and weather reports to determine whether the airport is open or closed to starts and landings. Local volunteers are responsible for maintaining the other parts of the airport, such as cleaning, terminal work, and servicing of planes.
Airlines and destinations
Currently, the only scheduled destination is to Khįtiyou in Thuyo, using turboprop regional airlines once or twice a week, depending on season and demand.
International aid and other organizations occasionally use the airstrip to bring supplies or goods to Jute. Other general aviation also is based on Sitti Airfield, among them are supply flights to the island of Kosomo, taking place approximately every two months or in case of emergencies. These are usually carried out by Surachah Airlines, a Canaganamese airline.
A very basic airstrip on the island of Kosomo, consisting of few simple buildings as well as a runway with the same length as the runway of Sitti Airfield (855 m), but only a cleared and graded grass surface, so less usable during or shortly after heavy rainfall. It is located next to banana plantations.
The buildings consists of sheds for tools used for runway and plane maintenance, as well as a larger building that primarily houses a local guide that brings passengers to the villages of the island or fetches them from those, but also accommodates pilots and passengers that have to stay overnight or wait for better weather before departing on foot, bicycle or plane. There is no restaurant or market nearby, however the house of the guide also doubles as a bar. A terminal, tower or dedicated fire service do not exist, although fire extinguishers are available on site.
Numudu-Loja a Haadi Seaplane Base
The main seaplane base of Jute is located on Lake Samwati, near the end of a branch line of the Sitti-Numudu railway. Originally built by Balaks in the early 20th century to facilitate access to Balak Numudu and the Balak arms depot on the small island in the lake, the site has remained in use after the departure of Balak officials in 1955, however with new simpler facilities erected in the 1970s as the original colonial ones proved to be too expensive and difficult to maintain with no outside funding and support.
In modern times, the aerodrome consists of two designated water runways (the only ones on Jute to have lighting and so allowing for night landings), three piers, shelters for the air control team and maintenance team as well as for passport control and a fence that prevents unauthorized entry and exit from the airport, as international seaplanes, especially from foreign dignitaries, a number of NGOs and foreign companies occasionally arrive on it. In addition larger cargo planes and supply flights to various communities in the north not easily reachable by train and further away from the main internal waterway, the large river Taxonea, use the seaplane base. Regular passenger travel, as well as most NGOs and the bulk of general aviation however mostly use Sitti Airfield.
Sitti Seaplane Pier
A single, simple pier was built in the harbor of the manufacturing district of Sitti in 1934 by Balak investors to allow for seaplanes to land closer to the biggest town on Jute. It remains functional, but sees little use outside of medical evacuations arriving from other parts of the island and Etillamme and rare recreational and tourist flights. Aside from a pier it has no facilities and no dedicated personnel, being maintained together with the harbor.
Numudu Balak Harbor Seaplane Pier
Two piers for seaplanes were constructed in 1927 in what was then known as Free Harbor (now called Balak Harbor, the sole community that unambiguously was part of Balak Numudu) by Balak military engineers after a number of local merchants and manufacturers had repeatedly complained to the colonial administration that transport from the main seaplane base of Balak Numudu was frequently taking hours, and liable to a number of risks that were hard to account for. As with the Sitti Seaplane Pier it has no additional facilities and is maintained together with the harbor it is adjacent to. A formerly dedicated warehouse was turned into a regular one after the end of Balak Numudu in 1955, and lighting was removed in the following years to help ship traffic.
Jute has no domestic airlines, and the only airline maintaining regular connections to Jute is Saru Airways, headquartered in Thuyo. Surachah Airlines from Cananganam additionally supports the domestic route between Kosomo and Sitti.