Belair (airline)

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For the Belarus airline, see Belair (Belarus airline).
Belair Airlines Logo.png
IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded 1925 (as Balair)
Frequent-flyer program topbonus
Alliance oneworld (affiliate)
Fleet size 8
Destinations see Air Berlin
Parent company Air Berlin
Headquarters Glattbrugg, Switzerland

Belair, legally Belair Airlines AG, is a Swiss airline based at Zurich Airport. It is a full subsidiary of Air Berlin and operates entirely under the name and corporate identity of Air Berlin.


The first Balair from 1925[edit]

Basler Aviation AG -Balair- was founded by Balz Zimmermann in 1925 in Basel. The name Balair is a reference to the French name of the Basel:Bâle. The first route was from Basel to Freiburg and Mannheim. Balair grew rapidly. In 1929 Basel Airport was the largest airport in Switzerland, with direct flights to Zurich, Geneva, Lyon, Karlsruhe and Frankfurt. In response to the Great Depression, Balair (based in Basel) and Ad Astra Aero (based in Zurich) merged on 1 January 1931 to form Swissair, headquartered in Zurich. Up to that point, Balair had carried over 18,000 passengers, 320 tons of cargo and 143 tons of mail. The company only flew in the summer and was mainly financed by federal subsidies and transportation of mail for the Swiss post office.

The second Balair from the 1950s to the 1980s[edit]

Balair Douglas DC-8 in Zurich (1985)

The second Balair was founded in January 1953. On 5 October 1952, the Basel electorate voted for the setting up a limited company. Hans Peter Tschudin was elected the first president. Balair concentrated in its early years on flight training, aircraft maintenance and handling Swissair aircraft at Basel-Mulhouse Airport. In 1957, Balair entered the charter business with two Vickers 610 Viking aircraft. In 1959 Swissair acquired a 40% stake in Balair. Two Swissair DC-4 aircraft were added to the fleet.

During the Biafran airlift of 1967-71, chartered Balair aircraft, including C-97 Stratocruisers, were used extensively to deliver humanitarian aid to a remote Biafra airstrip in eastern Nigeria.

In 1979 Balair added a DC-10 (call sign HB-IHK) to its fleet. Up to then, the fleet was made up of a DC-6, a DC-9 and two DC-8s.

Balair CTA in the 1990s[edit]

Later, Swissair operated charter flights using the Balair name. In 1993 the two subsidiaries -Balair charter and CTA - Compagnie de Transport Aérien (Geneva) were merged form Balair-CTA. For political reasons, the registered office of the company was in Geneva, the accounting department in Basel. The operational base was moved to Zurich. Despite restructuring and mass layoffs was the Swissair charter business was unable to turn a profit. Operations were stopped in 1995. The short-haul operations were transferred to Crossair and long-haul operations were transferred to Swissair. In 1997, the charter business was outsourced again and on 1 November 1997 Balair-CTA resumed operations as a subsidiary of Swissair.

The new Balair at the end of the 1990s[edit]

The combination of charter and scheduled services proved unsuccessful. In 1997 another Swissair charter subsidiary was formed, using the old brand name Balair. On short and medium-haul routes, two Boeing 757-200 were operated exclusively for tour operator Hotelplan and its subsidiaries ESCO-Reise and M-Travel. The leasee was also Hotelplan. Belair also had two Boeing 767-300 for long-haul operations. The new Balair was affected by the fallout following the grounding of Swissair. On 5 October 2001, the last landed Balair flight in Zurich. The Boeing 767 were returned to the lessor. Hotelplan transferred their Boeing 757s to a specially-formed company called Belair Airlines.

From Balair to Belair in the early 2000s[edit]

Belair Boeing 757-200 in 2007

In the fall of 2001, it became clear to tour operator Hotelplan that the end of Swissair and other SA Group airlines also meant the end of Balair. After consulting Migros (its parent company), Hotelplan founded a new charter airline called Belair Airlines. It was entered into the commercial register on 16 October. The minor name change meant it was possible to repaint the two Migros-owned Boeing 757s with very little effort. 120 Balair employees were employed by the new company.

The aircraft stayed grounded until all relevant operating certificates were transferred to the new company and the Swiss Federal Office of Civil Aviation issued an operating license. The first Belair commercial flight took place on 3 November 2001, taking off from Zurich. Flights were mainly to Mediterranean resorts and northern Africa. Besides the two Boeing 757-200s (HB-IHR and HB-IHS) it operated, Belair also leased a Boeing 767-300 (HB-ISE) for long-haul operations.

In addition to regular holiday flights, Belair's B767 and Edelweiss' A330 were used on several occasions to bring back travelers from areas of conflict, natural disasters or after attacks. As part of the partnership with REGA (Swiss Air Rescue), B755 HB-IHR was redesigned by Belair to be used as a rescue aircraft for repatriations in case of disasters.

Since 1 November 2007 Air Berlin in terms of a strategic partnership with a 49% stake in the company, which entered into force gradually. Cooperation with the Air Berlin increases its presence in Switzerland on the distribution network of the Migros group, conversely, is the Migros customers a significantly enlarged flights available. For this reason, the two Boeing 757-200ER has been repainted in Air Berlin colors and integrated into the fleet. The first aircraft in the new colors was HB-IHR.

Belair as part of Air Berlin[edit]

Belair Boeing 767-300ER in adapted Air Berlin livery

The company has been fully owned by Air Berlin since October 2009. Air Berlin originally acquired a 49% in Belair in 2007. Belair's planes are part of Air Berlin's fleet and have Air Berlin's livery. The aircraft used to wear the Belair signage combined with Air Berlins corporate design, however this has since been abandoned and the aircraft spot Air Berlin titles since.

Today, Belair is just a company name. All flights are carried out using the Air Berlin brand. For legal reasons, certain traffic routes in non-EU countries will continue using Belair's IATA code, 4T. Belair has significantly increased the number pilots and flight attendants it employs. Air Berlin Switzerland (Air Berlin pilots), the CHS Switzerland (Air Berlin flight attendants) and Belair were combined to form the new company Belair on the first January 2010 . Many former Belair flight attendants left the company following the closure of long-haul destinations. Many new flight attendants were hired which led to a slight reduction in the average age of cabin crew. Since Belair is controlled by Air Berlin, Belair is managed from Berlin and Air Berlin only publishes fully consolidated financial statements.

Today, Belair operates flights on behalf of Air Berlin to various destinations from Zurich, Basel and, in some cases, Geneva. The destinations are mainly located around the Mediterranean, as well as in Egypt and the Canary Islands. Flights within the EU are carried out using Air Berlin's IATA code. Flights to destinations outside the EU use IATA code 4T.


The name Belair is not used in public as all of Belair's flights are branded as Air Berlin. As of August 2016, Belair operates scheduled flights under its own flight numbers to the following destinations outside of the European Union on behalf of Air Berlin due to bilateral traffic rights. Several other routes from Switzerland to destinations within the EU are served by Belair aircraft using Air Berlin flight numbers.[citation needed]



Belair Airbus A320-200 in full Air Berlin livery, only to be identified by the Swiss registry

The Belair fleet consists of the following aircraft (as of August 2016):[3]

Belair fleet
Aircraft In Service Order Passengers Notes
C Y Total
Airbus A319-100 2 150 150 operated for Air Berlin
Airbus A320-200 6 180 180 operated for Air Berlin
Total 8


  1. ^ "IATA - Airline and Airport Code Search". Retrieved 11 April 2015. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Global Airline Guide 2016 (Part Two)". Airliner World (November 2016): 33. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Belair at Wikimedia Commons