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Swissair, Gone with the Wind…

By Jeremiah Teahan
January 27, 2002

Once one of the world’s great airlines, Swissair is no more.

On October 2, 2001, dozens of aircraft stood grounded at Zurich Unique Airport. Flights could not take off due to the simple lack of cash flow. So little was available that there wasn’t enough money to pay for jet fuel. No, we are not talking about a young airline in a developing country; we are talking about the airline which flew the flag and the pride of the people of one of the richest countries in the world, Switzerland. The airline was, of course, Swissair. Many people were aware that Swissair was ill, maybe even very ill, but no one ever thought it could reach this level of gross humiliation. Passengers were left stranded with valueless tickets; 70 years of the Swissair brand’s goodwill were gone in a matter of hours. With this article, I hope to give you an idea on what led to the end of Swissair.


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Despite being based in a small, landlocked country and never receiving any state subsidy, Swissair always managed to establish itself as a quality global airline. Celebrating it’s 70th birthday in March of this year, no one could have guessed the drama which was going to unfold in early October, the drama that was going to shut it down and put the world famous Swissair brand to rest.

The Swissair story started in March 1931 when shareholders from the two main Swiss airlines at the time, Ad Astra-Aero and Balair, approved the merger of both those carriers to form Swissair. At the time the airline’s 13 aircraft and 64 employees flew 4 domestic and 14 European destinations, all from Zurich. Over time, the airline grew slowly, operating such aircraft as the Douglas DC-4, Sud Aviation Caravelle, Convair CV-990 Coronado, DC-8, DC-9, DC-10, MD-11, B747-300. More recently, Swissair began converting to an all Airbus fleet, with the 3 members of the A320 family and the A330-200 providing most services. The A340-600 would have replaced the MD-11 between 2002 and 2006. Swissair grew from its 18 initial routes to a varied and strong network encompassing most of Europe and numerous long haul destination, including Taipei, Ho Chi Minh City, Manila, Osaka, Johannesburg, Santiago de Chile and Rio de Janeiro, just to mention a few of the more exotic locales.


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Through the years, Swissair was always a true innovator in every aspect of the airline business, from fleet decisions to catering. In 1934, the first European air hostesses were employed by Swissair; in 1958 the first ever alliance was forged (with SAS Scandinavian Airlines); in 1968 Swissair became the third European carrier to operate an all-jet fleet; in 1988 the withdrawal of DC-9s made Swissair the world’s first airline with an all Category-III fleet equipped for low visibility landings; in 1991 they were the world’s first airline to publish an environmental-impact report; in 1996 Swissair was the world’s first airline to operate A319s, A320s and A321s concurrently; and in 1999 they became the first airline to serve organic food in all classes on flights out of Switzerland.

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Innovations were not to be the only element that made Swissair what it was; acting conservatively also played a role. Swissair was the last European airline to change from 8 to 9 abreast in the economy of their DC-10 aircraft, and from 9 to 10 in abreast in economy on their Boeing 747 aircraft. Another example is the metal cutlery in Swissair economy, an element that belonged to the past on most other airlines. Such outstanding service, with an appropriate balance of innovation and conservatism, earned Swissair worldwide acclaim.

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With all its successes, Swissair also had its fair share of problems. Despite having one of the best safety records in the industry, like most airlines it suffered a number of accidents and incidents. The most recent and worst one, following nearly 20 incident-free years, was the 1998 crash of SR-111, a McDonnell Douglas MD-11 (HB-IWF), lost in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Nova Scotia while en-route from New York to Geneva. All 215 passengers and 14 crew perished. For many, that was the blackest day in Swissair’s history, but nothing could have ever prepared anyone for what was going to unfold in October this year.

The end of Swissair was certainly not an overnight process. It followed years of poor decisions, made by arguably incompetent and mostly absentee managers who had little experience in the air transport industry. Since the mid-1990s, the airline’s management decided to go ahead with an impressive expansion plan. It should have helped everyone: helped Swissair to remain strong and independent outside the major alliances that were about to be created, and would have helped the smaller, money-losing airlines that would, it was assumed, return to profitability by using the “proven” Swissair formula for success.

Swissair bought into a large number of overseas airlines, including Delta Air Lines and Singapore Airlines, but the main thrust of its expansion plans were met by large stakes in a number of European carriers, such as Sabena, AOM, Air Liberte, Air Littoral, Austrian, Volare, the German charter company LTU, Air Europe, LOT Polish Airlines, TAP Air Portugal and Turkish Airlines, just to name a small few. Swissair created an alliance of smaller carriers that could compete with the bigger alliances, such as OneWorld and the Star Alliance. Hence, the Qualiflyer Group was born, but so too was the financial troubles that eventually led to the demise of Swissair.

The vast majority of the Qualiflyer Group Airlines had major financial problems. For example, Sabena had made a profit only once in its long history. Nevertheless, once it became obvious the Swissair formula did not work at other airlines, the company’s managers continued to spend money on their purchases, including a promise to take 36% more of perennial financially disabled Sabena, on top of the 49% they already had. On January 23, 2001 the first sign that Swissair was in serious trouble came from the man who pushed the formation of the Qualiflyer alliance and Swissair’s disastrous expansion plan.

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On that day, Philippe Bruggisser, Swissair’s CEO, resigned. He had led Swissair’s expansion, transforming the airline from being a relatively conservative but profitable European airline to being the centre of an ill-conceived alliance. Eric Honegger and Moritz Suter (the Chief Executive Officer of Crossair, the highly successful regional subsidiary of Swissair) replaced him.

February 1 was the date when the first steps were taken to save the ailing company. It was announced that Swissair would not take a 34% stake in TAP Air Portugal that had been planned by Bruggisser. Then, on February 2, the same was said for the 51% of Turkish Airlines that was reserved for Swissair. On the 23rd, Swissair invested €240 Million to save Sabena because without the “bridge financing” the Belgian company would be grounded.

In March, the Swissair revitalisation plan suffered its first real setback. On March 7, Moritz Suter, who many called “The Swissair lifesaver”, left the airline, claiming that the structure of the Swissair Group would not allow him to restructure Swissair in any meaningful way. Two days later the board of managers also resigned. On March 12, the government announced that it would not offer state aid to Swissair under any circumstances, a decision which came as little surprise to many.

On March 16, Swissair set course with a new Chief Executive Officer, Mario Corti, or as some people affectionately nicknamed him “Super Mario.” Many believed that the Swiss-Italian Corti, previously the financial director of the Swiss food company, Nestle, would change everything. The Swiss people were assured that Swissair would be profitable within 5 years. Several cost saving initiatives were launched, including an internal magazine called “Voice”, in which employees could contribute cost saving measures. March 26 saw Swissair celebrating the company’s 70th birthday. No one realised that it would be their last.

While Corti tried to resuscitate moribund Swissair, the airline’s shares continued a downward spiral, which was initially set off by former CEO Sutter’s resignation. Group shares plunged as low as 201 Swiss Francs, very near the previous lowest-ever level of 197 Swiss Francs. To prevent dumping of the devalued stock, Swiss authorities blocked trading of Swissair shares the day the airline announced it’s dismal 2000 results. The day after the release of the financial statement, shares plummeted even further, down to 139 Swiss Francs. But these figures pale in comparison to the price of Swissair shares as the end approached. Just before the airline collapsed, once-mighty Swissair had almost no stockholder equity left; the carrier’s once valuable shares reduced to penny stock status.

April’s arrival didn’t bring better news for the Swissair Group. Sabena, Swissair’s loss-making Belgian affiliate, announced a loss of SF497 million on April 3. Despite this crushing loss, Sabena CEO Christoph Müller attempted to find some silver in an otherwise very dark cloud. Müller said that the maximum possible financial loss had been reached and that from now on “things could only get better.” His assertion was backed-up by an ambitious cost-cutting plan called “Blue Sky.”

Despite Swissair’s many troubles, the carrier’s in-flight product was still receiving accolades. April’s disastrous financial results were somewhat offset by the presentation of two “World Travel Awards” to Swissair; one for the “Best Economy Class Worldwide” and the other for “Best European Airline.” Swissair also secured the sale of its award winning chain of hotels, Swissôtel, to the Raffles Hotel Group for a potentially life-saving SF520 million.

May started with a promise by Mario Corti that he would do his best to bring Swissair through the crisis without any job losses. After selling Swissôtel, he would also sell Swissair’s computer branch, Atraxis, and Swissair’s 10% stake in the Austrian Airlines Group (AUA). The future of Swissair’s leasing branch, Flightlease, was under consideration. That month had its brighter moments, too. Although the airline likely had a “lock” on the designation, Swissair was nominated the official carrier of the International Olympic Committee. Despite the fact that the Swiss carrier’s future was bleak at best, the IOC pledged to fly the Swiss carrier until 2004, with an option to extend the contract to 2008. Swissair painted one of their aircraft, an Airbus A321 (HB-IOC, named Lausanne where the IOC are based) with the Olympic rings. May ended with Swissair pilots accepting a 5% pay cut for 2 years.

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Little happened in the June, except for an announcement by Mario Corti that Swissair would have to save SF500 million before the year’s end if the company hoped to survive. On June 21, Swissair shares dipped under 100 Swiss Francs, their lowest-ever level. Even less happened in July and August, minus a major shock at the end of August, when Swissair said it would sell its duty-free arm, Nuance, and also eighty percent of its ground handling company, Swissport.

September started bad and became disastrous following the attacks on September 11. Like its competitors world-wide, Swissair asked for state aid and then announced that the airline was close to bankruptcy. Only drastic changes and an infusion of funds would save the storied Swiss airline from collapse.

Corti announced a major restructuring plan on September 24. Swissair and Crossair would merge, creating a new entity called Swiss Air Lines, while at the same time maintaining each airline’s individual brand. Thousands of jobs would be lost in the consolidation, including 3000 at Swissair’s catering company, Gate Gourmet. Swissair and Crossair’s short haul network would merge and Swissair’s long haul network would be cut by twenty-five percent. Representatives from Swissair and Crossair announced that Swiss Air Lines would use the lower-cost Crossair structure, while maintaining Swissair’s high quality. Hence, the best of both worlds. On the same day, the Swiss government announced that they would cover the increased war insurance premiums for Swissair and Crossair. Without this provision, Swissair and Crossair would probably have faced certain grounding. On September 28, despite the news only a few days earlier that both companies would merge, the real beginning of the end began. Swissair shares went down to a little under 39 Swiss Francs. On the following day, October 1, Mario Corti announced the unbelievable: Swissair, the pride of Switzerland, was bankrupt.

The two main Swiss banks and Swissair’s major creditors, UBS and Credit Suisse, would take over Swissair’s share in Crossair, and Crossair would then take over Swissair flights. Some 2650 jobs would be lost, including 1750 in Switzerland. The following day, at 15:45 Central European Time, all Swissair flights were suspended because Swissair did not have any cash to pay for fuel. The only flights to take-off were aircraft abroad, allowing them to return to Switzerland. A journalist from a Swiss-French newspaper famously wrote “La Suisse n'est plus la Suisse,” translated as, “Switzerland isn't Switzerland anymore.” Nothing could be closer to the truth. Few people abroad could ever realise the impact that Swissair had on the Swiss people, that Swissair to the Swiss was more than just an airline. It carried the Swiss flag on the tail and along with it the values and beliefs of all the Swiss people. The wings of Switzerland were clipped.

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It was only with help of the previously recalcitrant Swiss Government that Swissair operations re-started on October 4. The Swiss Confederation agreed to provide Swissair with €300 Million of bridging money to allow the airline to fly until midnight, October 27.

What happened to some of the other airlines involved in the Qualiflyer Group? Despite a steel will and great dedication by the airline’s employees, Sabena ceased operations on November 7. The last ever Sabena flight was from Abidjan and Cotonou in Africa to Brussels, operated by A340-300, OO-SCZ. In the following days, there were mass protests by employees at Brussels Zaventem airport, who could not come to realise that the long and sometimes painful relationship with their company was over. But with the help of government money, Sabena’s regional subsidiary DAT restarted flying on key routes from Brussels on November 10, using their fleet of regional jets, with plans to add eight ex-Sabena Airbus A319 aircraft later. Sadly, DAT is in deep financial trouble and are having problems finding investors. The future of Belgian aviation is not guaranteed.

The future of AOM & Air Liberte looks a little brighter. After merging and filing for bankruptcy, they restructured themselves, then re-branded under the name “Air Lib.” The new name was chosen through a telephone survey among frequent AOM and Air Liberte customers. Although Air Lib is still making loses, they aim to return to profit within two years. They are also launching a new route to Algeria in co-operation with their long time rival, Air France.

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On the October 8, the real job of creating the new Crossair started. Mario Corti announced the loss of 9000 jobs in the Swissair Group worldwide, including 2600 jobs in its airline activities. Some unions estimated that total job losses at Swissair and its suppliers could top an incredible 170000. On the 14th, a task force set up by the Swiss Parliament spoke in favour of transforming Crossair into an international airline, taking up twenty-six long haul aircraft and twenty-six short haul aircraft from Swissair’s fleet. In Crossair’s corporate offices, three options were being considered, including one where no Swissair aircraft would be taken up. Whichever plan came to fruition, the new Crossair would need SF4 billion in start-up funding.

On October 17, the Swiss Parliament announced that it was willing to give money to the new company, as long as businesses and Cantons [Swiss states] would be willing to do likewise. Finally, on the 22nd , the Swiss Parliament gave their official green light to the project. The Swiss government would control 20% of the new company, the Cantons 18% and the private sector 62% of new airline.

Despite this progress, the future of the new company is certainly not sealed yet. Management has to make many decisions and overcome many challenges, not the least of which are crushing debts, leery financiers and disgruntled employees. These decisions are not made any easier by the state of the world economy, nor was management helped by the loss of a Crossair RJ-100 (HB-IXM) and twenty-five people on November 24. Crashes are always terrible, but this one particularly as it could not have come at a worse time. This tragedy will undoubtedly put into question plans to use the Crossair brand name. Perhaps an extra effort will be made to use Swissair, or maybe even an entirely new brand?

One thing for certain is the ill-conceived Qualiflyer Group is dead. Several years late, and with hat in hand, the new Swissair/Crossair is looking for an alliance to join. Many believe the most likely choice will be Oneworld, which includes British Airways, American Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Aer Lingus. Other options include the Star Alliance, with United Airlines, Lufthansa, Air Canada and Singapore Airlines anchoring that, the largest, international alliance, and the Wings Alliance with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Northwest. Some analysts wonder what assets a smaller Swissair/Crossair can bring to the now well established alliances.

However, the greatest challenge facing the new Crossair is its long-term survival. At a time when many analysts believe the future is made only for so-called “mega-carriers” (which Swissair aspired to be, but the new Crossair will never be), it is ironic that the latest round of airline problems sees carriers cutting their size as fast as possible.

One thing is sure; the father of Crossair, Moritz Suter, won’t join the management of the new airline. During a meeting on December 6, close to tears, Suter announced that he was leaving Crossair. It is the end of his long career in aviation, which started when he got a job as a Luxair pilot in 1965. Following that, he joined Swissair, flying the DC-9, in 1974. Only one year later founded “Business Flyers Basel”, which then became Crossair in 1979. Even though he is leaving, he promised he would be available if the new Swiss airline ever needed him.

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The clock can’t be turned back. Swissair is finished and now we can only look forward with hope. No one doubts that the new company will provide good service to Switzerland. However, what many do doubt is if the new airline can possibly gain the admiration and respect Swissair gained from every Swiss person over the past 70 years. No matter what happens, Swissair will always be remembered in the hearts of many, including this writer, as the world airline of its time. Not overly big but definitely setting the world standard. On no other airline would you get the little extra that simply made you love the company, the little extra that changed everything. In particular, the dedication of employees deserves a mention. These people didn’t just consider Swissair as their job; they considered it as a way of life, and that there were part of a family. They took the Swissair spirit everywhere they went, representing their company with pride and dedication. But all things come to an end sometime, and Swissair came to that end far earlier than anyone could or would have predicted. Had it not been for mismanagement, Swissair would surely still be flying in seventy years time. On March 31, 2002 the last official symbol that one is flying Swissair will go: the “SR” flight number prefix will be used for the last time, being replaced with “LX”, the code for Crossair. Swissair then will only be a part of history; Swissair will be Gone with the Wind.


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Written by
Jeremiah Teahan

39 User Comments:
Username: SunCEO [User Info]
Posted 2002-01-27 20:28:33 and read 32768 times.

Excellent article jeremiah, extremely informative in telling the tale of europe's finest airline.

Congratulations on a wonderful piece of writing.

Rgds,
Sun_CEO.

Username: Mac100 [User Info]
Posted 2002-01-27 21:38:25 and read 32768 times.

Great piece! Brings back lots of memories of Sunday afternoons at Kloten watching planes take off.

Username: Marcopolo747 [User Info]
Posted 2002-01-27 22:04:01 and read 32768 times.

During the mid 80s and the late 90s I held several jobs in the Middle East and in Europe far from my home base in Brazil and during these years I went out of my way to fly Swissair almost exclusively. This article reflects why this world class airline had such a captive clientele. Each flight was a renewed great experience. I couldn't help to feel a knot forming in my throat while I read it and each time I remember SR will be soon gone forever. No replacement or surviving airline will ever come close to it.

Username: American_4275 [User Info]
Posted 2002-01-27 22:32:43 and read 32768 times.

Wow! An extraordinary article. Well done!

Username: Peter. [User Info]
Posted 2002-01-27 22:50:47 and read 32768 times.

I never cared too much about Swissair because they were one of the few Airlines which would always fly "no matter what".
It shure is very sad that now we have to deal with their whole History.

But great article, Teahan. You are an absolute Top Member on A.net.
Gruss aus Köln, AB.400.

Username: TomCat.LS [User Info]
Posted 2002-01-27 22:58:43 and read 32768 times.

This loss makes me really sad!
I never had the pleasure of flying with Swiss Air but for me it was one of the greatest airlines ever, no matter what. There will never be something like the Swiss Air.
Does anybody know how the new livery shall look like?

Username: Teahan [User Info]
Posted 2002-01-27 23:04:52 and read 32768 times.

Hello,

Thanks for all your comments.

TomCat.LS, there are rumours that the name will be Swiss Airlines. It will be officially announced this Thursday (31st of February) An example of what the livery could look like was published in a Swiss newspaper a few days ago. It was the current livery (same tail and belly), with the engines in brown the the name in a different font. Overall look was not great.

Kind Regards,
Jeremiah Teahan

Username: Racko [User Info]
Posted 2002-01-28 00:07:35 and read 32768 times.

it makes me very sad that the swissair is gone. Although there will be a new "Swiss Airline", it will never be the same :(

Username: EGGD [User Info]
Posted 2002-01-28 02:55:51 and read 32768 times.

:,-(

Well written!

Username: 747-600X [User Info]
Posted 2002-01-28 04:01:28 and read 32768 times.

Jeremiah,

I found the article to be very well written, the thorough history and complete coverage of all the aspects of the airline (and its demise) made for a very wholesome reading. Thanks!

-NE

p.s. Typo in the first paragraph reads "...no one ever though it could...", might wanna' have Johan take a look at that.

Username: Sccutler [User Info]
Posted 2002-01-28 07:16:14 and read 32768 times.

Teahan-

Well-crafted article. Kudos!

Username: Rol [User Info]
Posted 2002-01-28 11:13:47 and read 32768 times.

Hi all,

Is there any way to print the articles? Most of them are excellent and it would be a fine thing to print them out to make ones own "aviation library".

Roland

Username: Kenny [User Info]
Posted 2002-01-28 12:45:43 and read 32768 times.

Just a small notice:

DAT isn't in money trouble (not anymore), they've found investors right now. During next week a new name will be launched.

Username: Lanpie [User Info]
Posted 2002-01-28 14:55:09 and read 32768 times.

Very good article.

It was very sad to see Swissair going bankcrupt.

Pierre

Username: CV990 [User Info]
Posted 2002-01-28 15:03:28 and read 32768 times.


Hi!

I want to pay my tribute to this airline and to Jeremiah, I'll surely miss Swissair forever, it was one of my references since I was a kid, they passed by via Lisbon in the 60's on the way to South America and that red tail with a white cross was universal. Anytime I was in any airport it was quite common to see Swissair airplanes there!!! Emotionally I have some of my best moments of flying related with Swissair, my first flight on 1979/11/23 from LIS to GVA was on a Swissair DC-9-51 HB-ISR, from then on I flew other 8 times with them, 3 times with the DC-9-81 ( HB-INM, IND and INI ) one time with the A310-200 ( HB-IPD ) and 4 times with the A321-111 ( HB-IOA, IOE, IOF and IOH ), that gives Swissair the previlege of beeing one of the airlines I flew most after TAP. All of those flights where great flights with great memories and great service in all of them. Also in Swissair I had the chance of visiting the cockpits, with excelent crews willing to show and chat with me for a while, so every time I ear the word Swissair I have great memories.
Regards

Username: Colinsensei [User Info]
Posted 2002-01-28 19:49:18 and read 32768 times.

Oops, sorry the typo is my fault.

Congratulations, Jer! See, all that hard work and waiting was worth it!

Colin Saunders

Username: RoyalDutch [User Info]
Posted 2002-01-28 21:24:37 and read 32768 times.

Excellent Article Teahan!
SR was an airline that I always wanted to fly, but never got the chance :,-(. This article was an good tribute. Good Job!

Username: Tango-Bravo [User Info]
Posted 2002-01-29 02:31:36 and read 32768 times.

Thank you for the very informative article on how "the impossible" happened to what was IMO the foremost airline in the world for the reasons stated by Mr. Teahan in his opening paragraphs.

Swissair is one of those entitities for which there can be no replacement. While the re-branded Crossair will no doubt do a capable job at filling much of the void left by the demise of SR, the airline they replace as the Swiss flag carrier was truly in a class by itself.

Saddest of all, to me, is to learn how Swissair's management allowed the problems of other airlines to become their problem to the point that it proved to be the ultimate undoing of the world's greatest airline.

Username: 747-600X [User Info]
Posted 2002-01-29 02:48:53 and read 32768 times.

If you want to print the articles, just copy them into any word-processor. With newer word-processors they'll be very smart and even copy the font color, and because the color is light grey you'll want to change that. I would suggest copying them into a simple Text-only program, like Notepad (for Windows) and then copying that on over to your word processor and formating it however pleases you.

Username: Boeingfan [User Info]
Posted 2002-01-29 06:58:35 and read 32768 times.

Great article. Well written. Sad. Not only the Swiss but the airline enthusiast of the world will miss the Swiss Flag on the tail of the aircraft.

Sabena is also missed. Though never profitable she fought on, proudly flying the world, until the end.

Swissair and Sabena will both be fondly missed, like Pan Am, Eastern, and Braniff and remain in the memory of those who were lucky enough to beable to fly them.

Great job on the article.
Bf

Username: Trintocan [User Info]
Posted 2002-01-29 11:36:21 and read 32768 times.

Very informative and well-written article. I was myself shocked when Swissair went belly-up - I could never have imagined that it would have collapsed, notwithstanding the tragic events just before. I photographed a Swissair A319 in LHR a few weeks ago, which was followed to the gate by a Crossair MD83. Sad to say that may just be the last picture I will take of a Swissair plane - I do have several others though.

Farewell Swissair.

Trintocan.

Username: OH-LZA [User Info]
Posted 2002-01-29 14:16:46 and read 32768 times.

Great Article Jeremiah!
I would have wanted to fly Swissair some day.

Alexander

Username: Hugo [User Info]
Posted 2002-01-29 15:32:25 and read 32768 times.

Bravo! Bravo! Bravo! An article worthy of the airline... I only remember flying Swissair once- from Seoul to Hong Kong on a 747-300 (HB-IGD Basel?). It was quite possibly the finest flight I ever took.

Jeremiah, you write with such finality. What prevents the ressurection of the Swissair name?

Username: Teva [User Info]
Posted 2002-01-29 19:29:32 and read 32768 times.

Great article !!!
Very good analysis of the problems.
The only thing I would like to add is why SR started this strategy of buying European airlines.
It is just because Switzerland is in Europe, but is not member of the European Union.
Around Switzerland, all the countries are members of the EU. And their airlines can do what they want, due to the open skies and the deregulation.
But SR cannot.
The management of SR thought that buying those small airlines loosing a lot of money would give them a full access to the European market.
But they paid too much for them, and they have never been able to reduce the losses. And even when it was clear that the strategy was bad, they didn't stop.

The result? one of my favorite airlines doesn't exist any more

Nana...

Username: SR Spirit [User Info]
Posted 2002-01-30 09:10:00 and read 32768 times.

Great article, Jeremiah! :DD
Very well written and excellently capturing the spirit of Swissair.
I have worked the last 10 years for Swissair in different departments (from Pax Service at the Airport to Yield Mgmt and Network Planning) and have witnessed SR's sad end from within the company. I can agree 100% on Jeremiah's ending remarks about SR's employees ("These people didn't just consider Swissair as their job; they considered it as a way of life, and that there were part of a family. They took the Swissair spirit everywhere they went, representing their company with pride and dedication.") For me, that's the biggest tragedy of all: People, who dedicated their life for the company and associated themselves totally with their employer, innocently lost their jobs - like my father after 40,5 years of uninterrupted service for the company he always loved.
Even though the article is very well written, I do miss some details, which I think, are worth mentioning:
1. SR's expansion plan of the 90's based on the so called "Hunter Strategy" which was formulated by the McKinnsey Consultant Company and was backed year after year by the whole board of directors without ever raising a finger. Part of that board were some of the best known businessmen of Switzerland like Schmidheiny, Hentsch, Mühlemann (CEO Credit Suisse and former Head of McKinnsey Switzerland!) and also Eric Honegger who succeeded Mr. Götz as Head of the board
2. On January 23, Philippe Bruggisser did not resign - he was fired by the new Head of the Board Eric Honneger - yes, the one who spent about 10 years in board and always backed Bruggisser with realizing the "Hunter Strategy"
3. The highly dubious role of Marcel Ospel (Head of UBS) and Moritz Suter (then Head of the board of directors at Crossair) during the grounding of the whole fleet was not mentioned by a single word. Even though Mr. Ospel publicly promised on Oct. 1st to grant SR money to ensure the operation until the end of the timetable period, the money on the UBS account remained blocked the whole day of October 2nd! The money wasn't released before the ultimatum of the fuel companies ended. (For further details about what happened on October 2nd please consult the SAirGroup web page: http://www.sairgroup.com/pdf/Kommentar_UBS_Factsheet.pdf).

Hope these infos help to give some more background about the biggest tragedy in Swiss economic history!
Thanks again for the great article! We all will miss the red tail with the white cross... :,-(

Username: PerthGloryFan [User Info]
Posted 2002-01-30 12:30:44 and read 32768 times.

Great article!

Only had the pleasure of flying of lying Swissair once. It was Sept 2000, CDG-ZUR was supposed to gone onto FCO but because we left about 40min late we missed the connection and were transferred to Alitalia instead.
We were not impressed with the lack of information regarding the flight delay on the ground at Paris, but once on board the a/c and cabin crew made up for any lapse in communication.
There were less than 20 Y pax on the A321 sharing those comfy leather seats and I think there were about 5 cabin staff - great snacks and chocolate all round.

The Delta and Singapore shareholdings were only a couple of percent each; with each of those two airlines also having the same holding in Swissair. I beleive these holdings were all relinquished when SQ joined Star.

A proud history no sadly finished :(

PGF

Username: B767-300 [User Info]
Posted 2002-01-30 17:26:16 and read 32768 times.

Hey men this is a good and sad article I hope that some day swissair will be back.

peace to you all

Username: Teahan [User Info]
Posted 2002-01-30 21:17:11 and read 32768 times.

Hello,

The new name of Swissair/Crossair will most probably just be Swiss, nothing more and nothing less (that was rumoured a while ago, and now again today by the Swiss-German Tabloid "Blick") I suppose it isn't too bad, like Thai, maybe it even sounds pretty modern, short and catchy.

Tomorow morning, an A320 (HB-IPJ) will leave Zurich for Basel. In Basel there will be a press conference at 11ish in the morning. The A320 will do an overfly of the Alps for a photo-shoot before returningt to Zurich (I guess everyone is hoping for good weather) There will also be an information session for employees from 3-4PM (Q&A by André Dosé)

is registered to someone in the Cayman Islands, however, , law and behold, it brings you to the Swissair website. And here is the exact fleet joining the new company:

-----------------------------------------------------
The fleet of the new airline (supposed to be called Swiss Airlines) has now been definitively decided:

- Embraer 145: full Crossair fleet will be joining
- Saab 2000: full Crossair fleet will be joining, except aircraft
already parked and remaining withdrawn from use
- Avro RJ85: all four Crossair aircraft will be joining
- Avro RJ100: all fifteen Crossair aircraft will be joining
- McDonnell Douglas MD-80: all Crossair aircraft will be joining (one
being leased to Nordic Airlink and one to Odette)

The following aircraft previously operated by Swissair are also taken over:

- Airbus A319: all nine aircraft
- Airbus A320: all aircraft except HB-IJF/ HB-IJG / HB-IJH (total 17
airplanes)
- Airbus A330: all aircraft except HB-IQI / HB-IQJ / HB-IQK (total 13
airplanes)
- McDonnell Douglas MD-11: all aircraft except HB-IWG / HB-IWN / HB-
IWR / HB-IWS / HB-IWT / HB-IWU (total 13)

No Airbus A321 will be joining the new airline. Among airlines said to be interested in purchasing some aircraft not transferred is Iran Air.
-----------------------------------------------------

Fleet Information from DPTS Association Website:


In anticipation of tomorow,
Jeremiah Teahan

Username: Soku39 [User Info]
Posted 2002-01-30 23:15:06 and read 32768 times.

Now I am in a rather depressed mood, but that was an excellently written article Teahan.

Username: SR Spirit [User Info]
Posted 2002-01-31 13:37:50 and read 32768 times.

The official new name of Crossair (Swissair) is SWISS. Full name: SWISS Air Lines.
The new brand and livery can be seen under the new homepage:
http://www.fly-swiss.com

I personally dislike the new name, colours etc. First reactions in the Swiss media are pretty disastrous!

Username: Vincent32 [User Info]
Posted 2002-01-31 23:47:25 and read 32768 times.

Amazing, I never knew that much about Siwissair and I am now thankful to you for sharing so much. After reading this I really feel for Swissair and hope that someday they will be able to fly again.

Username: Skyliner [User Info]
Posted 2002-02-01 16:08:04 and read 32768 times.

Very well done!
George

Username: SAS A340 [User Info]
Posted 2002-02-02 22:06:52 and read 32768 times.

Beautiful articel,i miss swissair,s perfect,clean and nice c/s and it,s a true shame that they are gone and they will be mised!! at least by me!! :,-(
RIP swissair!!!

Username: Webwings [User Info]
Posted 2002-02-04 17:20:22 and read 32768 times.

This is a truly great article, Jeremiah! My compliments to you!

I am presently amidst my pilot's education in the Swissair Aviation School, and our classes have been quite shaken by the happenings of the past few months. The loans we have been granted by Swissair to pay for our ATPL education have been cancelled just some days before the whole course should start, our preliminary job contracts with Swissair which would have granted us a job (if we finished the course with the high proficiency and final exam marks Swissair required us to reach) have been dropped as well, and we had to decide within hours if we would be able to get the whole money together from somewhere else or drop the dream of becoming an ATPL licensed pilot, which was deeply anchored in many of us.

Fortunately the wheels (or should I say fans?) keep on turning, Swissair is about to being reborn under the brand SWISS, still keeping its glamourous name from past days as the legal name: Swiss Air Lines Ltd., and our future looks a little brighter now.

Reading the excellent article that Jeremiah has put together so meticulously with loads of facts about our beloved airline, I am partly happy partly sad. So many memories of the days now gone have been narrated to us youngsters by the older employees of Swissair which were there for years, serving the travelling public, always trying hard to make every journey a great and safe experience, no matter where in the world and at what time of the day.

But we are very hopeful that with the launch of SWISS, which would haver never been possible without the generous help of the Swiss citizens and government, a great new airline is about to earn its wings, and all of us look very forward to bring the days back when flying a Swiss airliner had been a real pleasure.

Let's see, if one day we may welcome you aboard and wish you a pleasant flight!

Markus

Username: Gerardo [User Info]
Posted 2002-02-05 10:12:13 and read 32768 times.

Nice article, Jeremiah!

It's sad to see such a symbol go.

Gerardo

Username: EmiratesLover [User Info]
Posted 2002-02-06 13:21:14 and read 32768 times.

Congratulation, Jeremiah on such a superb article, brilliantly researched and extremely well written.

Although I myself have had the privilege to fly Swissair on only a couple of occasions, that too in my childhood, I know that it easily was one of the finest airlines in the world.It had to wrok very hard indeed to get where it got, and was a symbol not just of the great nation it represents, but also of quality and all round excellence.It was truly the pride of Europe.

It may not be around any more, but it's successor, Swiss Airlines is in the making, and is now going to be the successor of Swissair.Swiss Airlines is now going to be the new flag carrier of Switzerland, and it hopes to be every bit as good as it's predecessor.Good Luck to them !

The Swiss are definitely down, but make no mistake, they are NOT out.Don't count them out - from the ashes of Swissair is arising the phoenix of Switzerland's new flag carrier - Swiss Airlines.

Username: MiG31 [User Info]
Posted 2002-02-12 10:43:03 and read 32768 times.

Very strong article.
I loved Swissair and I am extremely upset to see it disappear. I never thought such a thing could happen to it because it was soo good.

Regards,

I.T.

Username: Bravo45 [User Info]
Posted 2002-03-10 09:49:55 and read 32768 times.

My congrats on such a nice airticle and consolidations on the tragedy.
Regards,
Jawad.

Username: BALKAN,154M [User Info]
Posted 2002-04-01 14:29:31 and read 32768 times.

VERY NICE ARTICLE,
IT BRINGS A TEAR TO MY EYE.
I WAS OING TO FLY ON A SWISSAIR MD-11 THIS SUMMER, AS MY SCHOOL BOOKED FLIGHTS TO BEIJING
WITH THEM FROM LONDON, BUT I WILL NOT BE FLYING WITH MD-11!
:,-( :,-( :,-( :,-( :,-( :,-( :,-( :,-( :,-( :,-( :,-( :,-( :,-(

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