Air Transport World

TABA: roaming the Amazon Basin. (Transportes Aeros Regionais de Bacia Amazonica SA)

TABA: Roaming the Amazon Basin Belem, Para, Brazil--The delta region of the mighty Amazon River seems an unlikely place for a regional airline to flourish, considering the availability of river boats and small ships and the undeveloped nature of the basin. But surprisingly, Belem, the capital of the state of Para, in Brazil's Northern-most region, boasts the headquarters of the regional serving the largest area of any regional in Brazil, perhaps the world--TABA (Transportes Aereos Regionais da Bacia Amazonica S/A).

Dawn here reveals scores of small vessels tied up at Belem's sprawling marketplace. Farmers, merchants, fishmongers, potters, weavers and animal traders pack the half-dozen square blocks of waterfront market. Although the type of goods they sell varies widely, they have one thing in common.

Almost everything sold here is floated downriver to the Belem market. When the sale day ends, many of the people return home the same way they arrived--by the river. This picture appears again and again at other river towns all along the Amazon.

Most of TABA's region--an area equal to about half of Brazil's 8.5 million square kilometers--is covered in dense vegetation. Because of the topography, few roads exist. River travel between points only two hundred miles apart can take a week.

Airports are few and even fewer possess any of the facilities taken for granted in more developed nations. Many runways cut from the jungle wear only a red clay surface. …

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