Swissair

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This article is about the defunct Swiss airline. For the asteroid, see 2138 Swissair.
Swissair
Schweizerische Luftverkehr AG
Société Anonyme Suisse pour la Navigation Aérienne
Swissair logo.svg
IATA
SR
ICAO
SWR
Callsign
SWISSAIR
Founded 26 March 1931
Ceased operations 31 March 2002 (operation transferred to Crossair which became Swiss International Air Lines)
Hubs Zurich Airport
Geneva Cointrin
EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg
Frequent-flyer program Qualiflyer
Airport lounge Swissair Lounges, Qualiflyer Lounges
Fleet size 76 (2002) [1]
Destinations 157
Parent company SAirGroup
Headquarters Zurich Airport
Kloten, Switzerland
Key people Mario Corti, (CEO)
Website swissair.com

Swissair, S.A./AG (German: Schweizerische Luftverkehr-AG; French: Société Anonyme Suisse pour la Navigation Aérienne[2]) was for many years the national airline of Switzerland.

It was formed from a merger between Balair and Ad Astra Aero (To the Stars), in 1931.[3] For most of its 71 years, Swissair was one of the major international airlines and known as the "Flying Bank" due to the financial stability of the airline, causing it to be regarded as a Swiss national symbol and icon. The airline thrived into the 1980s, when it was one of the "big five" Western European airlines. It was headquartered at Zurich Airport and in Kloten.

In 1997 the Swissair Group was renamed SAirGroup (although it was again renamed Swissair Group in 2001), with four subdivisions: SAirlines (to which Swissair, Crossair, Balair and FlightLease belonged), SAirServices, SAirLogistics and SAirRelations.

Burdened by over-expansion due to the controversial “Hunter Strategy” in the late 1990s and after the economic downturn following the September 11 attacks, Swissair’s assets dramatically lost value, grounding the already-troubled airline in October 2001.[4] The airline was kept alive until 31 March 2002 by the Swiss Federal government.

On 1 April 2002 successor airline Swiss International Air Lines was founded on the base of former Crossair, taking over most of the routes, planes and staff of the former Swissair. Today, The SAirGroup company still exists and is in the process of being liquidated. Swiss International Air Lines was taken over by the German airline Lufthansa in 2005.[5]

History[edit]

Swissair Fokker F.VIIb-3 m (CH-192) piloted by Walter Mittelholzer in Kassala (Sudan), February 1934.

Founding years[edit]

On March 26, 1931, Swissair - Schweizerische Luftverkehr AG (German: Swissair - Swiss Air Transport) was founded through the fusion of the airlines Ad Astra Aero (founded in 1919) and Balair (1925). The founding fathers were Balz Zimmermann and the Swiss aviation pioneer Walter Mittelholzer. In contrast to other airlines, it did not receive support from the government. The name "Swissair" was the proposal of Dr. Alphonse Ehinger, president of the directorial board of the Balair, although "Swissair" was first deemed "un-Swiss". In the first operational year 64 people were employed including ten pilots, seven radio operators and eight mechanics. In total, their planes offered 85 seats and operation was maintained only from March to October. The route network had a length of 4,203 kilometres (2,612 mi).

The 1st Swissair logo.

On April 17, 1932 Swissair bought two Lockheed Orions, making them the second European airline to use American planes, after the Czech operator CSA purchased a Ford Trimotor in 1930. The Orion was the fastest commercial airplane of its time and was put to use on the "Express line", Zurich-Munich-Vienna. This led Lufthansa to ask Heinkel for a model that could top the Orion's speed, leading to the Heinkel He 70. In 1933, the first trans-Alpine route was introduced in 1933: Zurich-Milan.

For the first time in Europe, flight attendants were employed aboard the Curtiss Condor beginning in 1934. Nelly Diener, first flight attendant of Europe, became world-famous. She lost her life after just 79 flights in a crash near Wurmlingen, Germany, on July 27, 1934. The cause of the crash was material fatigue.

In 1936, Douglas DC-2s were acquired and London was added to the route network. In 1937, the bigger Douglas DC-3 was bought. In the same year, both founding fathers died: Walter Mittelholzer during mountaineering in the Steiermark, Austria, and Balz Zimmermann succumbed to an infectious disease.

On August 27, 1939, days before World War II broke out, the airspace over Germany and France was closed. Swissair was forced to suspend service to Amsterdam, Paris and London. Two days later, Swissair service was closed completely. Of 180 employees, 131 had to serve in the army. In spite of the war, some routes were re-introduced, such as Munich, Berlin, Rome and Barcelona. In 1940, an invasion of Switzerland was feared, and Swissair moved their operations to the Magadino plains in Ticino. Operations were suspended definitively in August 1944, when a Swissair DC-2 was destroyed in Stuttgart during an American bombing raid.

On July 30, 1945 Swissair was able to resume commercial aviation.[6]

Ascension[edit]

Douglas DC-3 (1950s)
A Swiss Air Lines Convair 240 at Manchester Airport, England, in March 1950
Douglas DC-6B at Manchester Airport in 1954

In 1947 the rise of shareholder capital to 20 million Swiss francs enabled long haul flights to New York, South Africa and South America with Douglas DC-4s. The modern Convair 240, the first Swissair plane with a pressurized cabin, was used for short- and medium range flights from late 1948. The first DC-4 flight to New York was routed via Shannon and Stephenville (Newfoundland) on May 2, 1947 and actually ended in Washington, DC, due to fog at New York's LaGuardia Airport. The total elapsed time was 20 hours and 55 minutes.

The former Swissair logo

The public, including the federal government, the states of Switzerland (Cantons), municipalities, the Swiss Federal Railways and the Swiss postal services took over 30.6% of the shares and enabled Swissair to get a credit of 15 million Swiss Francs to purchase the airline's first two Douglas DC-6B airliners for delivery in 1951. By that act, Swissair became the national flag carrier of Switzerland. The new pressurised aircraft were to replace the DC-4 on transatlantic routes.

In 1948 the airport in Dübendorf, which served as the base of Swissair, was relocated to Zurich-Kloten. Military aviation continued in Dübendorf. The next year Swissair plunged into a financial crisis because of a sudden devaluation of the British Pound because fares, except traffic to the United States, were calculated in British currency. At that time, the traffic to England made up 40 percent of Swissair's revenues.

In June 1950 Walter Berchtold, manager of Swiss Federal Railways, was elected to the directorial board of Swissair and served as the director. Until 1971 he coined the corporate culture of Swissair. He grasped the importance of corporate image and corporate identity, and after the example of BOAC's "Speedbird", he introduced the arrow-shaped Swissair logo. Giving flight personnel a distinct uniform was also an important point. At the time flight attendants' uniforms resembled the gray-blue ones of the Swiss Women's Army Corps, so Berchtold introduced ones in a modish marine blue. Swissair put a veritable fashion competition of Europe's airlines into motion.

Revenue Passenger-Kilometers, scheduled flights only, in millions
Year Traffic
1950 147
1955 465
1960 1138
1965 2436
1971 5001
1975 7562
1980 10831
1985 12609
2000 34246
Source: ICAO Digest of Statistics for 1950-55, IATA World Air Transport Statistics 1960-2000
Douglas DC-7C (1957)

In 1952 the cabin layout on northern trans-Atlantic routes was changed to one with a first and a tourist class. First class had comfortable chairs in which one could sleep, given the name "Slumberettes". Those sleeping chairs were soon succeeded by beds, modeled after the U.S. Pullman railway wagons. Two adjacent seats were moved toward each other and formed a lower berth. The wall panel could be folded downward, forming the upper berth in which the other person could sleep. A year later tourist class was introduced on Europe flights.

In 1953 Swissair, with the city of Basel, founded a charter Company called Balair, reusing the name of one of its predecessors, a company which initially used older Swissair aircraft to fly to holiday destinations.

As the first European customer, Swissair bought the Douglas DC-7C which enabled them to perform non-stop flights to the United States. For shorter-range routes, the Convair Metropolitan was used.

In 1957 the Far East was added to the route network; direct flights to Tokyo had intermediate stops in Athens, Karachi, Bombay, Bangkok and Manila. In the same year, Swissair helped Aristotle Onassis to form the new Greek airline, Olympic Airways.

While competitors first looked at turboprop airplanes to replace their piston-engined craft, Swissair introduced jet airplanes directly. Together with SAS, Swissair bought Douglas DC-8s which were delivered beginning in 1960. For medium and short range routes the Sud Aviation Caravelle was purchased. The aircraft were maintained together with SAS, and also manuals for operation and maintenance were co-written.

Douglas DC-8-62 of Swissair at Zurich Airport in 1979. The DC-8 series served the airline from 1960.
Swissair Convair Coronado 990A (1962-1975)

Swissair was one of the few companies worldwide to buy Convair 990 "Coronado" aircraft in 1962 for their medium and long range routes. Although the machines did not fulfill contractual specifications at first, they were liked by employees and customers. They operated on the airline's routes to South America, West Africa and the Middle and Far East.

1966 saw the introduction of the Douglas DC-9. This type developed into the backbone of the short- and medium-range routes, and, after convincing Douglas, on behalf of Swissair the Douglas Corporation offered a stretched variant: the DC-9-32. For the first time, Swissair was the launching customer of an aircraft type.

In 1971 Armin Baltensweiler took over as the president of the directorial board and ran the enterprise for over two decades. In the same year, the first Boeing 747-200 Jumbo-Jet was acquired, and in the next year the first McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30 followed. Both types shaped the long-haul fleet until the 1990s. Again, the specifications of both aircraft were developed in collaboration with SAS. Also in 1972, Switzerland introduced a prohibition of night flights, which led to the cessation of cheaper night fares.

In 1973, the company struggled with severe turbulence: currency crisis, collective chaos, air traffic controllers strike, October War and the oil crisis could be overcome without prejudice. In addition, the Regional Representative of Swissair in Buenos Aires has been kidnapped by a revolutionary group this year. After 38 days of this kidnapping was released after payment of a ransom in the amount of CHF 12.4 million. The airline also phased out the CV-990s during the same time.

Swissair was the second airline to offer service to the People's Republic of China, introducing service to Beijing and Shanghai in 1975. In the same year, Swissair was the launch customer for the DC-9-51. In 1977 Swissair was the launch customer for the third DC-9 type, the DC-9-81 variant, now called the MD-80. Armin Baltensweiler had traveled to a meeting of McDonnell-Douglas' directorial board in St. Louis to convince them to further stretch the fuselage of the DC-9-51. Baltensweiler was called the “Father of the MD-80". In 1979 Swissair was the first company to order the Airbus A310-200 and the jumbo jet variant with a stretched upper deck, the Boeing 747-300. Also, the Fokker 100 short range aircraft and the three-engined MD-11 were aircraft for which Swissair was the launch customer. 1983 saw the replacement of the older DC-9s by MD-83s.

Since the 1960s Swissair was a world leader in the development of cargo reservation systems (CRS). PARS and CARIDO were examples for booking passenger seats and freight space.[6]

"The flying bank"[edit]

Sud Aviation Caravelle (1961)

After the 1960s, air traffic increased quickly and allowed many airlines – many of which were quasi-monopolists on their routes – to yield high revenues. Especially Swissair profited from its excellent reputation as a quality airline and from the fact that the political neutrality of Switzerland allowed the company to fly to exotic, but lucrative destinations in Africa and in the Middle East. In geographic terms, the central position of Switzerland in Europe helped it to generate revenue from transfer passengers. By the early 1970s, Swissair was thus called "The flying bank", appealing to the large hidden assets and the huge liquidity Swissair had. Secondary, the "flying bank" was the designation for a corporate group which cared more about financial management than about flying airplanes.[6]

With the beginning of deregulation and liberalisation, airlines felt growing financial pressure. In 1978, Moritz Suter founded a regional airline named Crossair, which put Swissair under additional stress. To counter these changes, Swissair invested their large financial reserves into takeovers and into flight-related trades like baggage handling, catering, aircraft maintenance and duty-free stores. This strategy diversified economic risks at the expense of the core business of Swissair - commercial aviation.

Concentration[edit]

Boeing 747-300 (1985)

In regard to the furthering liberalisation of Europe's airline market, Swissair focused more on commercial aviation and extended its partnerships. As the first European airline, Swissair signed in 1989 a cooperation treaty with Delta Air Lines and Singapore Airlines to form the alliance "Global Excellence". In 1990, together with SAS, Austrian Airlines and Finnair, the "European Quality Alliance" was founded. The latter alliance was later renamed to "Qualiflyer". Because of the weak economy, the Gulf War and its aftermath, and rising operational costs, many airlines lost money in 1990 and 1991. The ongoing liberalisation enforced the competition additionally, and Swissair lost 99 million Swiss Francs in the first half year, and so Swissair was not able to pay dividends to its shareholders. In the years 1991 and 1992 Swissair had to dissolve financial reserves to cushion the losses from the commercial aviation sector.

Airbus A310 (1991)
Airbus A321-111 (2001)

On January 1, 1991, commercial aviation in Europe was completely liberalized and the existing capacities led to an aggressive competition among the airlines. In a national referendum on December 6, 1992, Swiss citizens rejected taking part in the European Economic Area, EEA. This referendum was a significant disservice to Swissair, an airline with a minute domestic market: Its planes were not allowed to take up passengers during intermediate landings in EEA countries (e.g., Zurich - Frankfurt - New York), and Swissair was not allowed to offer tickets for sections that fully lie in EEA member countries (e.g., Zurich - Frankfurt - Paris). See also freedoms of the air.

Like other airlines of smaller countries, Swissair now was under significant pressure. More and more national airlines affiliated themselves with airline alliances in order to maintain a worldwide market presence. But in order to be interesting for American alliance partners, an airline must have a critical size in terms of passenger numbers. To meet that goal, in 1993 an alliance between Swissair, KLM, SAS, Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines was proposed. This project bore the name "Alcazar" to create a single Central European airline. But in various countries, this project was criticised. In Switzerland itself it was thought that the huge financial assets were too precious to merge Swissair with the other airlines.[6]

Hunter Strategy[edit]

Logos of the firms belonging to the SAirGroup

In the late 1980s, as well as throughout the early 1990s, Swissair tried to merge with Air France, Lufthansa, and British Airways in order to get access to a wider European market. Finally after deregulation, Swissair tried to expand beyond its home Swiss market; after the Alcazar project was cancelled, Swissair hoped to be a major force in European aviation.

In the 1990s Swissair initiated the controversial “Hunter Strategy”, a major expansion programme devised by the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. Using this strategy, Swissair aimed to grow its market share through the acquisition of small airlines rather than entering into alliance agreements. Swissair decided to acquire 49.5 percent of the very successful Italian charter airline Air Europe, the unprofitable Belgian flag carrier, Sabena, and significant stakes in the carriers Air Liberté, AOM, Air Littoral, Volare, LOT, Turkish Airlines, South African Airways, Portugalia and LTU, and planned to acquire stakes in Aer Lingus, Finnair, Malév, as well as Brazilian carriers TAM and Transbrasil.[7] In mid-2000 has been predicted that by these acquisitions, the loss of Swissair for the next three financial years between would be between CHF 3.25 billion and 4.45 billion. The management however maintained in classical restructuring, the Board approved the reorganization of LTU in the amount of approximately CHF 500 million. In addition, there were plans to take over Alitalia.

In summer 2000, the CEO Philippe Bruggisser came under public pressure, as the press published the financial situation of the group. Thus, the daily loss was Swissair and Sabena in each one million francs, and another million were lost every day at LTU and the French investments. The Board left the first time to calculate scenarios for phasing out the existing participations in other airlines. Swissair wanted to retire from their foreign investments. In January 2001 Bruggisser was summarily dismissed. Moritz Suter, founder of Crossair was, as the new CEO of SAirLines - nominated - so all Group airlines including Swissair. After only 44 days Suter resigned his position back.

In March 2001, two studies by consultants were presented to the Board, which showed the financial difficulties of SAirGroup. Then came the Directors resign. Only Mario Corti (manager), former CFO of Nestlé stayed behind. The buying spree created a major cash flow crisis for parent company SAirGroup, and was exacerbated by the environment caused by the September 11 attacks. Unable to make payments to creditors on its large debt, and with the refusal of UBS AG to extend its line of credit on 2 October 2001, the entire Swissair fleet was abruptly grounded.[8] Many blamed UBS for the fiasco, causing demonstrators to take to the streets with signs referring to UBS chairman, Marcel Ospel as "Bin Ospel" and redefining the bank's acronym, "UBS" as the United Bandits of Switzerland.

Two large bridge loans from the Swiss government were required to finance continuation of flight operations. This notwithstanding, with the resumption of flight service, it was necessary for flight crews to carry large sums of cash to purchase fuel at foreign airports.[9]

Grounding[edit]

On 1 October 2001, the public was informed in a press conference about the project "Phoenix" and announced that a payment delay was sought for parts of the group. However, continuation of service was secured by the Swiss federal authorities, as they were willing to pay half of the loan.

2 October 2001 saw an increased necessity for strong liquidity, as all suppliers insisted on cash payments of outstanding invoices following the request of payment delay announced the day before. Cash reserves of Swissair filed on this day were barely sufficient enough just to carry out the first morning flights. During the morning, fuel suppliers refused to fuel the waiting aircraft. Other accounts were consolidated on the one hand because of the prior termination of the cash pooling facility from the UBS, on the other hand due to the threat of favoritism regarding debts. The banks refused a credit increase before the sales proceeded, and insisted on a formal referral validity of the sale agreement.

At 15:45, CEO Mario Corti announced a cessation of flight operations due to the security risks caused by the crossing of the Flight Duty Regulations. This led to thousands of stranded passengers around the world, including flight crews. Their corporate credit cards were blocked by the banks, with some hotels expelling the crews, and having them return home at their own expense. In addition, all tickets sold were voided.

Crossair shares were only reissued on the evening of 2 October was the rewriting of Crossair shares, with their purchase price not arriving until the following day - the setting of flight operations - into the SAirLines account.

4 October 2001 saw demonstrations by former Swissair employees before the UBS presentation held in Glattbrugg, and the following day saw demonstrations in Bern's Federal Square.

Around the same time, SAirGroup's stake in Crossair was sold to the Swiss banks UBS and Credit Suisse. Furthermore, the reborn Crossair took over various assets of former Swissair, including its employees, aircraft and most European routes. Swissair and the SAirGroup were handed over to the liquidation firm of Jürg Hoss Liquidators, and ceased operations on 31 March 2002. Crossair was renamed Swiss and officially took over Swissair's intercontinental routes on April 1, 2002, officially ending 71 years of Swissair Service.

Transition phase[edit]

On 5 October, commercial flights on most routes were gradually resumed thanks to a federal emergency loan of over CHF 450 million. This happened partly to ensure the accessibility of Switzerland as a business location, as well as to establish a basis for the creation of Swiss. The prevention of a complete collapse of Swissair, avoided the collapse of the other airline-related businesses in the group.

The Swiss International Airlines logo as of 2011.

After another federal repayable funding commitment of one billion francs, each of the 26 long-haul aircraft (MD-11s and A330s) and 26 medium-haul aircraft (A321s, A320s and A319s) were able to be transferred to Crossair / Swiss at the end of the winter schedule of 2001/02. On Easter Monday, 1 April 2002, the last flight of Swissair, flight SR145 from São Paulo, landed in Zurich. A 71-year-long chapter of Swiss aviation history thus came to an end. Between 1931 and 2002, Swissair had transported more than 260 million passengers. The SwissairGroup (the name change from SAirGroup to SwissairGroup was announced in 2001 but never officially implemented) still existed as 'SAirGroup in Nachlassstundung' (German: Swissair in Administration) for several years until all assets were liquidated, including a large auction where many of the remaining Swissair assets, such as historic items, were auctioned. Today, Gategourmet continues as a subsidiary under the parent firm Gate Group.

Factors behind collapse[edit]

Like other airlines that flew to the United States, Swissair's operations and profitability were disrupted in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks.[10] As Swissair's directors included several politicians, commentators have pointed to potential conflicts of interest as fundamental to the demise of Swissair. Media have also suggested that the directorial board failed to oversee the actions of Philippe Bruggisser (Chief Operating Officer since 1996) and Eric Honegger (board member since 1993 and later board president), and that they left behind a convoluted corporate structure and financial commitments – among others a further purchase of 35.5 percent of Sabena's stocks – which would only come to light when Mario Corti was trying to save the airline.[11]

The judiciary is continuing to examine why Swissair acquired counselling that supported the Hunter Strategy, and why Swissair continued to make certain payments despite nearing insolvency. Questions have also been raised about federal aid given to Swissair and the politicians involved. The highly competitive nature of the market during the business's final years also precipitated its demise: like rival company Sabena, Swissair fell victim to the competition of budget airlines such as Ryanair and EasyJet.[12]

A BBC correspondent said regarding the collapse "Something did die in Switzerland that day: not just an airline but an image the Swiss had of themselves and, more importantly, of their business leaders" and "The Swiss financial community's reputation for good business sense was already seriously damaged by the Swissair disaster."[13]

Due to continued civil proceedings are part of the causes of the collapse of SAirGroup subject of legal proceedings and are therefore legally unclear. The following causes are widely recognized as crucial factors:

  • The Board of Directors elected by the "Hunter strategy" deliberately is a risky option. The Star Alliance campaigned namely by Swissair, due to the great influence of Deutsche Lufthansa AG rejected this option from Swissair however. The importance of own Qualiflyer partners in the Austrian Airlines was among other members took greatly after their conversion to the Star Alliance. Swissair did not join the big alliances. Swissair's successor, Swiss, finally joined Star Alliance after being taken over by Lufthansa.
  • The management underestimated the dangers and difficulties in acquisitions and investments of partially ailing airlines. So the Belgian Sabena and the German LTU were taken despite the significant capital requirements. In addition, the investments in France (AOM, Air Liberté and Air Littoral) required much capital restructuring. Sabena ultimately ceased operations, due to the aforementioned financial crisis.
  • The indebtedness created by an uncompromising and too little adapted to the realities of implementation, "Hunter strategy" and the lack of monitoring by the Board.
  • The terrorist attacks in the U.S. led to a slump in demand and consequently to an extreme tightening of liquidity.
  • An orderly transfer of operations at Crossair was denied by the failure to reach a bridging loan and the delayed transfer of the share purchase price.
  • Increasing competition from low-cost carriers such as Ryanair and EasyJet, forced Swissair to lose passenger revenues.
  • A full merger with Sabena was impossible due to Swissair's own financial crisis.

Management trial[edit]

The criminal trial began 16 January 2007 in Bülach. The entire Swissair management board stood facing criminal charges of mismanagement, false statements, and forgery of documents. Top defendants in the trial were Mario Corti, Philippe Bruggisser, George Schorderet, Jacqualyn Fouse, Eric Honegger and Vrena Spoerry. Corti, Honegger and Spoerry entered statements proclaiming their innocence.[14]

On 7 June 2007 the court in Bülach cleared the defendants of all criminal charges over the airline's 2001 bankruptcy.[15]

Fleet[edit]

Last active fleet[edit]

Aircraft In service Orders Passengers Notes
F C Y Total
Airbus A319-100 5 75 35 110
Airbus A320-200 24 72 62 134
Airbus A321-100 8 76 94 170
Airbus A330-200 14 12 42 142 196
McDonnell Douglas MD-11 15 8 47 164 219
Total 66 -

Historic fleet[edit]

In its 71 years of existence, Swissair operated the following aircraft.[16]

Aircraft Total Delivered Retired Notes
Fokker VII a 1 1931 1950 acquired from Balair now on display in the Swiss Transport Museum in Lucerne
Fokker VII b 8 1931 1935 acquired from Ad Astra and Balair
Dornier Merkur 2 1931 1931 acquired from Ad Astra
Messerschmitt M 18 1 1931 1938 Taken over from Ad Astra
Comte AC-4 1 1931 1947 acquired from Ad Astra
now in the SR Technics Hangar in Zurich
Lockheed Model 9 Orion 2 1932 1936 both were sold to the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War. (The model at the Swiss Transport Museum never served in the Swissair fleet; but it was bought in the 1960s by Swissair, restored to flying status and painted in Swissair colors.)
Clark G.A. 43 2 1934 1936 first all-metal airplane in Swissair fleet
Curtiss AT-32C Condor 1 1934 1934 first European airliner to have a stewardess
crashed in 1934
Douglas DC-2 6 1934 1952 assembled under licence by Fokker at Schiphol Airport near Amsterdam
Junkers Ju-86 B-0 2 1936 1939 crash-landed or crashed
de Havilland Dragon Rapide 3 1937 1954
Douglas DC-3 5 + 11 1937 1969 The first 5 were assembled prewar by Fokker at Schiphol Airport near Amsterdam, whilst the others were converted USAF C-47's and postwar built aircraft
de Havilland Mosquito 1 1945 1945 was originally used as a Royal Air Force fighter aircraft in World War II, fell into Swiss hands
Swiss government used it, sold it to Swissair in 1944
Mraz M-65 Cap 1 1948 1950 built under license by Fieseler Storch
sold to Lindt & Sprüngli
Nord 1000 1 1948 1953 sold to Federal Air Office
Douglas DC-4 5 1946 1959 used on service to JFK
three crashed or were damaged or destroyed
Convair CV-240 8 1949 1957 most were sold
some scrapped, one crashed
Douglas DC-6 8 1951 1962 most were sold, one was leased
one's whereabouts are not known
Douglas DC-7C 5 1956 1962 all were sold
one was the last DC-7 to be built
Convair CV-440 Metropolitan 12 1956 1968 most were sold
first Swissair plane to use integrated Weather Radar
Scottish Aviation Twin Pioneer 1 1957 1957 used for high-altitude airports
Sud Aviation SE210 Caravelle 9 1960 1971 Swissair's first jetliner
first ones leased from Scandinavian Airlines System
most were sold, one still survives
Douglas DC-8-32 3 1960 1967 one was converted to a -53 and two were converted to -33's,
Convair 880-22M 2 1961 1962 leased pending delivery of Convair 990s
Convair 990 "Coronado" 8 1962 1975 most were sold, one crashed, one is at the Swiss Transport Museum in Lucerne
Douglas DC-8-53 2 1963 1976 one was converted from a -33;
one was hijacked & was blown-up after passengers were released
Fokker F27 3 1965 1972 Operated for Swissair by Balair
Douglas DC-9-15 5 1966 1968 sent back to Douglas or sold
BAC One-Eleven 3 1968 1969 just leased for capacity reasons
Douglas DC-9-32 22 1967 1988 one was operated as a freighter -33F
Douglas DC-8-62 7 1967 1984 two were operated as freighter -62F's
Boeing 747-257B 2 1971 1984 sold
McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30 14 (2 were ER version) 1972 1992 sold
some were stored, some were scrapped
McDonnell Douglas DC-9-41 4 1974 1975 leased from SAS
McDonnell Douglas DC-9-51 12 1975 1988 sold
some stored, some broken up, some still flying
McDonnell Douglas MD-81/82/83 26 1980 1998 Launch customer of MD-80.
Most sold, some stored, one written off, two crashed before delivery, some still flying
Airbus A310-221 5 1983 1995 sold to FedEx, converted to freighters and still flying
Boeing 747-357 5 1983 2000 one was the prototype
three were combis, two were leased
some stored, one broken up, one now flying
Airbus A310-332 6 1985 2000 sold
one stored, one scrapped, some still flying
Fokker 100 6 1988 1996 sold
some still flying
McDonnell Douglas MD-11 20 1991 2002 one crashed
rest went to Swiss International Air Lines, later were sold, most still flying
Airbus A321-111 12 1995 2002 some were sold, most went to Swiss International Air Lines
Airbus A320-214 20 1995 2002 some were sold, most went to Swiss International Air Lines
Airbus A319-112 9 1996 2002 some were sold, most went to Swiss International Air Lines
Airbus A330-223 16 1998 2002 some were sold, most went to Swiss International Air Lines
Airbus A340-600 order: 9
delivered: -
contract delivery: 2002 when Swissair went bankrupt, Swiss cancelled the orders and ordered the A340-300. All of Swissair's previously ordered A340-600s were purchased by South African Airways.

Destinations[edit]

Asia[edit]

 Saudi Arabia
 India
 Thailand

Africa[edit]

 Algeria
 Egypt
 Morocco
 Nigeria

Europe[edit]

 Austria
 Belgium
 Cyprus
 Czech Republic
 France
 Germany
 Greece
 Hungary
 Italy
 Netherlands

Amsterdam - Amsterdam Airport Schiphol

 Norway
 Poland
 Portugal
 Russia
 Spain
 Sweden
  Switzerland
 Turkey
 Ukraine
 United Kingdom

North America[edit]

 Canada
 United States

Swissair Asia[edit]

Swissair Asia was formed to serve Taipei, Taiwan, within the Republic of China, while Swissair was maintaining service to the People's Republic of China.[17] Aircraft formerly used by Swissair Asia had the Chinese character Ruì (瑞), from the Chinese translation of Switzerland, Ruìshì (瑞士), on the tail fin instead of the cross.[18][19]

Corporate affairs[edit]

The Swissair head office was on the grounds of Zurich Airport and in Kloten.[20][21]

KSG, Architects G.Müller + G.Berger designed the final head office complex for the airline. It was in proximity to the main airport facilities and to area freeways. The first phase of the building included offices for 1,600 workers, computer rooms, printing rooms, and 500-seat restaurant facilities. The second phase included open plan office room, another computer laboratory, and expansions of the restaurant facilities.[21]

In the 1930s the head office was in the Dübendorf Aerodrome in Zürich.[22]

Swissair legacy[edit]

In 2002 the successor airline Swiss International Air Lines was born. First called Swiss Air Lines, this Company was based on the former Crossair, and was basically a merger of Crossair and former Swissair employees, routes and aircraft. The Company Swissair continued to exist (in liquidation), but had no further assets. Due to legal problems with Swissair, the name had to be changed to Swiss International Air Lines

Swiss took over 26 longhaul and 26 medium haul Aircraft from the Swissair fleet and refurbished the liveries to turn it into the new Swiss fleet, together with the former Crossair Fleet consisting of Embraer 145, Saab 2000, MD-80 Series and Avro RJ.

After problems with the former Crossair pilot unions, who refused to accept different conditions than the former Swissair pilots within the same airline, a subsidiary called Swiss European Air Lines was founded which belongs 100% to Swiss International Air Lines.

In 2004, it appeared that Swiss was going to become a member of the Oneworld alliance. It had codeshares with Oneworld carriers British Airways, American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Qantas, Aer Lingus and Finnair, and held a strategic partnership and joint operation for all service to North America and AA-operated flights beyond U.S. gateways using American Airlines. Swiss started to terminate these codeshare agreements, but did not terminate the AA alliance. A theory emerged that Swiss was planning to use its partnerships, the AA alliance, and its partnership with British Airways, a strong supportive member of Oneworld, to join Oneworld itself.

However, in March 2005 Swiss was taken over by the German Lufthansa Group and Deutsche Lufthansa AG, the flag carrier of Germany. With the merger with Lufthansa, Swiss joined the Star Alliance, which Swissair planned to join before it failed. With this move, Swiss's frequent flyer club, Swiss TravelClub became part of Miles & More, which was originally the Lufthansa frequent flyer club. It acts as both airlines' frequent flyer programme, along with many other airlines.

Continued use of the "Swissair" brand[edit]

Swiss retains the rights to the "Swissair" name, whose value was estimated at more than 10 million Swiss francs in 2010. In order to prevent the trademark from becoming void through disuse, Swiss licensed it to Hopscotch Air, which operates a fleet of Cirrus SR22 plane in the U.S., for use from 2010 to 2013. In Switzerland, the trademark is protected through its use by an aviation sports club, Sportfluggruppe Swissair.[23][24]

Accidents and incidents[edit]

Over the 71-year history of Swissair, there were nine major incidents reported resulting in 390 fatalities.[25]

19 June 1954 A Convair CV-240 ditches due to fuel starvation in the English Channel, near Folkestone. All three crew members survive, but three of the five passengers drown as they are unable to swim. Passenger aircraft at this time were not obliged to carry life rafts or life-jackets, and this was one of the many incidents which inspired this obligation to be passed as law.
15 July 1956 A Convair CV-440 crashes during a delivery flight from San Diego, California to Zurich via New York, Gander and Shannon. On approach to Shannon, the pilots execute an abnormally steep turn, causing the aircraft to stall and drop to the ground. Four crew members lost.
18 June 1957 A Douglas DC-3 crashes during a flight exercise conducted under visual flight rules with nine people aboard. All are lost. The aim of the exercise was to practice flying with one engine switched off and propellers feathered.
4 September 1963 Without authorization, the pilot of Caravelle operating Flight 306 carrying seventy-four passengers and six crew members taxies halfway along a runway at Zurich Airport in order to inspect and clear fog. He then returns to the start of the runway and takes off. Ten minutes later the aircraft crashes, killing all on board. During its initial ascent, witnesses state they saw smoke issuing from one of its engines. Subsequent investigation establishes that braking during the pilot's unauthorized maneuver overheated a tire, causing it to burst, damaging a fuel line and starting the fire that ultimately led to loss of aircraft control. This accident had a significant impact on the small town of Humlikon, out of a population of just over 200, forty-three residents are killed in the accident.
10 February 1967 A Convair CV-440 collides with a cloud-covered mountain; four crew members die.
21 February 1970 A bomb on board a Convair CV-990 operating Flight 330 from Zurich to Tel Aviv, detonated in the aft cargo compartment of the aircraft about nine minutes after take-off climb-out. Forty-seven are killed when the aircraft crashes due to a subsequent electrical fire that crippled the aircraft before the pilots could attempt an emergency landing at Zurich.
6 September 1970 Three empty hijacked jet airliners, one belonging to Swissair, are blown up by terrorists at Dawson's Field, Zerqa, Jordan.
8 October 1979 A Douglas DC-8 lands under "adverse conditions" at Athens Ellinikon International Airport, overshooting the runway and killing fourteen passengers. The plane touches down at too great a speed and too far along the runway for the pilots to use sufficient braking and reverse thrust.
2 September 1998 A McDonnell Douglas MD-11 travelling from New York's JFK International Airport to Geneva crashes due to fire and subsequent instrument failure at night off the coast of Peggy's Cove, 80 km southwest of Halifax, Nova Scotia. All 215 passengers and 14 crew members are killed in the crash.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Fleet - Overview. Sr692.com. Retrieved on 2013-08-20.
  2. ^ "World Airline Directory." Flight International. 28 March-3 April 2000. 102[dead link].
  3. ^ "About Swissair Facts and Figures:". Swissair. 1999. Archived from the original on 1999-02-19. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  4. ^ Hermann, A., & Rammal, H. G. (2010). The grounding of the "flying bank". Management Decision, 48(7), 1048-62.
  5. ^ [1] Lufthansa - proposed acquisition of Swiss International Air Lines - Australian Competition Commission
  6. ^ a b c d This section was translated from the article "Swissair" in the German-language Wikipedia, version [2]
  7. ^ "Swissair gets purchase approval". Airline Industry Information. 17 April 2000. Retrieved 30 August 2012. 
  8. ^ Staff writers (2001-10-02). "Swissair grounds all flights". BBC News. Retrieved 2007-08-02. 
  9. ^ BUSINESS | State warned against buying Swissair. BBC News (2001-10-05). Retrieved on 2013-08-20.
  10. ^ Staff writers (3 October 200). "Thousands stranded in airline crisis". BBC News. Retrieved 2009-03-19.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  11. ^ Olson, Elizabeth (4 July 2001). "Brussels sues Swissair in move to aid Sabena". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 September 2012. 
  12. ^ Hall, Dave; Jones, Rob; Raffo, Carlo (2004). Business Studies (Third edition ed.). Ormskirk: Causeway Press. p. 196. ISBN 1-902796-83-7. 
  13. ^ "Swiss shame over airline disgrace lingers." BBC. Thursday 8 March 2007. Retrieved on 12 February 2010.
  14. ^ Harry Rosenbaum (15 January 2007). "Swissair executives assert innocence at first day of Switzerland's biggest corporate trial". International Herald Tribune. Retrieved 2007-02-22. 
  15. ^ Staff writers (2007-06-07). "All Swissair defendants cleared". BBC News. Retrieved 2007-08-02. 
  16. ^ Patrick Eberhard (2008). "The whole Swissair fleet". Swissair.aero. Retrieved 2008-09-02. 
  17. ^ "World Airline Directory." Flight International. 28 March-3 April 2000. 102[dead link]-- 0975.html?search="AOM French"103[dead link].
  18. ^ Mika B Virolainen (17 May 1997). "Picture of the Swissair Asia McDonnell Douglas MD-11 aircraft". Airliners.net. Retrieved 2008-09-02. 
  19. ^ B. Amratisha (23 2August 003). "Picture of the Swiss International Air Lines Asia McDonnell Douglas MD-11 aircraft". Airliners.net. Retrieved 2008-09-02.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  20. ^ "facts & figures." Swissair. Retrieved on 13 June 2009. "Swissair AG, P.O. Box, CH-8058 Zurich Airport"
  21. ^ a b "Headquarters of Swissair Zuerich-Kloten."[dead link] KSG,Architects G.Müller + G.Berger. Retrieved on 27 September 2011. The building is located here
  22. ^ Flight International. April 28, 1938. p. 416 (Archive). "SOCIETE ANONYME SUISSE POUR LA NAVIGATION AERIENNE (Swissair), Dübendorf Aerodrome, Zürich."
  23. ^ "Business lead". Flightglobal. 19 October 2010. Retrieved 1 November 2010. 
  24. ^ Keller, Senta (1 November 2010). "Swissair hebt wieder ab". Berner Zeitung. Retrieved 1 November 2010. 
  25. ^ Harro Ranter (31 August 2008). "ASN Aviation Safety Database". The Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 2008-09-02. 

External links[edit]