|Ceased operations||28 October 2017|
|Parent company||Air Berlin|
Belair, legally Belair Airlines AG, was a Swiss airline headquartered in Glattbrugg operating out of Zürich Airport and EuroAirport Basel–Mulhouse–Freiburg. Belair was a subsidiary of Air Berlin and operated under the Air Berlin brand name until the 31 March 2017. During the 2017 summer season, it flew on behalf of its sister company Niki and was shuttered by then-bankrupt Air Berlin on 28 October 2017.
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The first Balair
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
The second Balair was founded in January 1953. On 5 October 1952, the Basel electorate voted for the creation of a limited company. Hans Peter Tschudin was elected the first president. In its early years, Balair was active in 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.
In 1993 the two subsidiaries -Balair charter and CTA – Compagnie de Transport Aérien (Geneva) were merged and named Balair-CTA. For political reasons, the registered office of the company was in Geneva and the accounting department, in Basel. The operational base was moved to Zurich. Despite restructuring and mass layoffs, the Swissair charter business was unprofitable. Operations ended in 1995. Short-haul operations were transferred to Crossair and long-haul operations, to Swissair.
The new Balair
In 1997, Swissair's charter business was outsourced again and on 1 November 1997 Balair-CTA resumed operations as a subsidiary of Swissair, reverting to the Balair name. 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 lessee was also Hotelplan. Balair also had two Boeing 767–300 for long-haul operations. The new Balair was affected by the failure of Swissair. On 5 October 2001, the last Balair flight landed in Zurich. The Boeing 767 were returned to the lessor.
After consulting Migros (its parent company), Hotelplan founded a new charter airline, Belair Airlines, and transferred their Boeing 757s to it. 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 first Belair commercial flight took place on 3 November 2001, departing from Zurich. Flights were mainly to Mediterranean resorts. 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.
As part of the partnership with REGA (Swiss Air Rescue), 757 HB-IHR was redesigned by Belair to be used as a rescue aircraft for repatriations in case of disasters.
Belair as part of Air Berlin
Air Berlin acquired 49% of Belair in 2007 and fully owned Belair after October 2009. This increased Air Berlin's presence in Switzerland and provided Migros customers access to more flights. While Air Berlin owned Belair, Belair was managed from Berlin and Air Berlin only published consolidated financial statements. Air Berlin Switzerland (Air Berlin pilots), the CHS Switzerland (Air Berlin flight attendants) and Belair were combined to form the new company Belair on 1 January 2010.
Belair flew from Zurich, Basel and Geneva to Mediterranean destinations and the Canary Islands. The aircraft used to have Belair signage combined with Air Berlin's corporate design, but then wore Air Berlin's livery. Due to bilateral traffic rights, certain routes to non-EU countries continued to use Belair's IATA code, 4T.
On 1 April 2017, the four Airbus A321 began to operate on behalf of Niki and switched from Air Berlin to Niki flight numbers on routes to EU destinations.
These are the final destinations of Belair prior to its shutdown on 28 October 2017:
|Destination||Nation||IATA flight code||Notes|
|Palma de Mallorca||Spain||HG|
|Zürich||Switzerland||HG and 4T||base|
As of August 2017, the Belair fleet consisted of the following aircraft:
|Airbus A320-200||1||—||180||operated for Niki|
|Airbus A321-200||4||—||210||operated for Niki, transferred from Air Berlin from April 2017|
- "IATA – Airline and Airport Code Search". iata.org. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
- ch-aviation.com - Air Berlin calls off Belair sale, carrier to be liquidated 27 October 2017
- "Das Streckennetz der new airberlin | airberlin.com". Flights.airberlin.com. Retrieved 2017-02-24.
- austrianaviation.net - Belair operates wetlese for Niki (German) 10 March 2017
- aerotelegraph.com - Belair staff awaits salary 24 December 2017
- "Swiss Aircraft Register". Federal Office of Civil Aviation. Retrieved 5 August 2017.
- Kosovo is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Serbia. The Republic of Kosovo unilaterally declared independence on 17 February 2008, but Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory. The two governments began to normalise relations in 2013, as part of the Brussels Agreement. Kosovo has received formal recognition as an independent state from 113 out of 193 United Nations member states.
Media related to Belair at Wikimedia Commons