Unusually, the beginnings and early development of Belgian aviation was not to be found in Europe, but in its colony in Central Africa, where Société Anonyme Belge d’Exploitation de la Navigation Aérienne, always known as Sabena, went on to establish an extensive network of scheduled services within the Belgian Congo, and also inaugurated the Ligne impériale between Belgium and the Congo. A limited European network was also flown, as was a North American service after the World War Two. The loss of the Congo, which became independent in 1960, and with it, some two-thirds of its income, was a hefty blow from which it never fully recovered. An ill-fated alliance finally forced it into bankruptcy in 2001.
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