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AntonioMartin
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Who were the "seven sisters of Western European Aviation" during the 70s?

Wed Nov 25, 2020 3:28 am

I just read on Wikipedia that Swissair was one of the seven sisters of western European aviation in the 70s but the article doesnt offer the names of the other six...

I imagine Sabena, Olympic, KLM, British Airways and Lufthansa to be among them, but then who else? SAS, TAP, Iberia?

Thanks for the info!
 
cedarjet
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Re: Who were the "seven sisters of Western European Aviation" during the 70s?

Wed Nov 25, 2020 7:30 am

Never heard the phrase before. Every country had a state-owned airline, even small ones doing stuff their successors wouldn’t dream of today eg JAT to DXB KHI SIN SYD, Sabena to Tokyo and Mexico City, CSA to Jakarta with six stops en route etc. Imagine Air Serbia flying to Australia via Pakistan, or SN Brussels to Mexico. So grab a map of Europe, and count the number of countries. That’s how many sisters.
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PatrickZ80
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Re: Who were the "seven sisters of Western European Aviation" during the 70s?

Wed Nov 25, 2020 7:36 am

cedarjet wrote:
So grab a map of Europe, and count the number of countries. That’s how many sisters.


Not entirely true, given that the map of Europe has changed quite a bit since then. It would of course be true if you look at what the map of Europe looked like in those days.

This is also the reason Slovakia never had a national airline, after all in those days it was part of Czechoslovakia. The national airline, CSA, became the national airline of Czech leaving Slovakia without a national airline.
 
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EightyFour
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Re: Who were the "seven sisters of Western European Aviation" during the 70s?

Wed Nov 25, 2020 7:39 am

On the wiki page in question the "seven sisters"-claim is followed by [citation needed].I googled around and found no other mention of seven sisters in western European aviation than the Swissair wiki page so I leaning towards this not actually being a thing. Of course I don't know for sure.
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The777Man
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Re: Who were the "seven sisters of Western European Aviation" during the 70s?

Wed Nov 25, 2020 7:40 am

Never heard that phrase before either but I think it refers to the joint maintenance pool and cooperation that existed between some European Airlines. I think it included AY, SK, KL, SN, SR, IB and AZ and specifically for the DC-10 that all of these airlines flew. I could be wrong..

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Re: Who were the "seven sisters of Western European Aviation" during the 70s?

Wed Nov 25, 2020 7:42 am

To be frank I’ve never heard of “the seven sisters”, but my guess would be Swissair, KLM, Finnair, SAS, UTA, Sabena and Austrian: airlines that somehow tried to merge or form an alliance with each other. Not all at the same time, but at different stages in different formations. Again, just a guess.
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DL_Mech
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Re: Who were the "seven sisters of Western European Aviation" during the 70s?

Wed Nov 25, 2020 7:56 am

I wonder if ATLAS vs KSSU are part of this?

https://www.airliners.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=762671
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eta unknown
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Re: Who were the "seven sisters of Western European Aviation" during the 70s?

Wed Nov 25, 2020 8:07 am

Never heard of the seven sisters. There were seven airlines in Swissair's infamous Hunter Strategy, but that wasn't in the 70's. However, we're talking about Wikipedia here- a reference tool that is subjective and carries no weight.
 
AntonioMartin
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Re: Who were the "seven sisters of Western European Aviation" during the 70s?

Wed Nov 25, 2020 8:13 am

Thanks to all! And I forgot another possibility: Air France...
 
VSMUT
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Re: Who were the "seven sisters of Western European Aviation" during the 70s?

Wed Nov 25, 2020 8:19 am

I vaguely recall hearing something like that. It was SAS, Swissair, KLM, Sabena for sure, and possibly Lufthansa, Air France and either BOAC/BA or Alitalia.

Spain and Portugal were still dictatorships in the 60s and much of the 70s (until 1975 for Spain and 1976 for Portugal), so Iberia and TAP weren't as relevant as they became later on.
Eastern Europe was communist and the enemy, so definitely didn't count.

On a side note, it seems the term was also used for the 7 US majors in the 1990s.
 
smartplane
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Re: Who were the "seven sisters of Western European Aviation" during the 70s?

Wed Nov 25, 2020 8:26 am

Wasn't it the founder members of the EEC plus the UK?
 
GDB
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Re: Who were the "seven sisters of Western European Aviation" during the 70s?

Wed Nov 25, 2020 9:07 am

The777Man wrote:
Never heard that phrase before either but I think it refers to the joint maintenance pool and cooperation that existed between some European Airlines. I think it included AY, SK, KL, SN, SR, IB and AZ and specifically for the DC-10 that all of these airlines flew. I could be wrong..

The777Man


I think you are right, it's an informal term for the airlines to cooperate with maintenance of the new widebodies, both 747 and DC-10, mostly for the DC-10 and CF-6 as well as 747, those carriers that also operated 747-200's also had generally that powerplant, though 747-100's and it's powerplant would have been included too.
 
BealineV953
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Re: Who were the "seven sisters of Western European Aviation" during the 70s?

Wed Nov 25, 2020 9:51 am

GDB wrote:
The777Man wrote:
Never heard that phrase before either but I think it refers to the joint maintenance pool and cooperation that existed between some European Airlines. I think it included AY, SK, KL, SN, SR, IB and AZ and specifically for the DC-10 that all of these airlines flew. I could be wrong..

The777Man


I think you are right, it's an informal term for the airlines to cooperate with maintenance of the new widebodies, both 747 and DC-10, mostly for the DC-10 and CF-6 as well as 747, those carriers that also operated 747-200's also had generally that powerplant, though 747-100's and it's powerplant would have been included too.


The KSSU group (KLM, SAS, Swissair and UTA) pooled maintenance of the DC-10.
I think it may have expanded to include another airline or two and the 747, but I don't think it was ever a grouping of seven airlines.

I worked in the airline industry for nearly 40 years, and have never heard the 'seven sisters' expression applied to airlines in western Europe.
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oldannyboy
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Re: Who were the "seven sisters of Western European Aviation" during the 70s?

Wed Nov 25, 2020 11:32 am

I also immediately thought about the pooled maintenance consortiums KSSU and ATLAS.... but specifically I have never heard of the term seven sisters..
 
MIflyer12
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Re: Who were the "seven sisters of Western European Aviation" during the 70s?

Wed Nov 25, 2020 12:27 pm

Chasing down a Wikipedia reference that isn't common knowledge and also lacks a citation... yeh, not me.
 
RJNUT
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Re: Who were the "seven sisters of Western European Aviation" during the 70s?

Wed Nov 25, 2020 12:29 pm

i'm gpoing to say KLM, Sabena, Air France, Iberia, TAP , Alitalita and Swissair
 
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SheikhDjibouti
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Re: Who were the "seven sisters of Western European Aviation" during the 70s?

Wed Nov 25, 2020 12:59 pm

The general consensus here seems to be that the term "seven sisters" is a made up phrase by someone at wikipedia, who most probably had the best intentions and did not expect to be taken at face value.

We can all try to get inside their head, just as an exercise. My personal list is as follows

The KSS group (from 1967 i.e. before UTA joined in)
KLM
Swissair
SAS
- not forgetting that SAS itself encompasses three nations

BA
LH
(probably including Condor)
AF (possibly including Air Inter)
IB

That makes seven, but the problem I have is how do you justify IB and not AZ ?
"Eight sisters" doesn't roll off the tongue so neatly.
One could exclude Italy as being part of southern europe, more easily than you could dismiss Spain for being west-western europe.

Greece certainly doesn't enter the equation.

And whilst Belgium often punches above it's weight, a look at Sabena's fleet from ca 1974 would leave you seriously underwhelmed. Many secondary carries in other countries would have better claims (LTU, UTA, BCAL). And if you include Sabena/Belgium, you might also have to consider both TAP and Austrian.



From a purely semantic/political viewpoint, "western europe" does not exist in any acknowledged form.
The CIA World Factbook rather unhelpfully identifies seven nations as "western europe", but that doesn't help us in the slightest. (Belgium, France, Ireland, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, United Kingdom)

And of course it also depends who you are asking, because plenty of nations aspire to be "western", all the way out to Turkey and Ukraine. :white:

Meanwhile a card-carrying UK Brexiteer thinks that anything east of Lowestoft is "dirty". :rotfl:
Nothing to see here; move along please.
 
GDB
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Re: Who were the "seven sisters of Western European Aviation" during the 70s?

Wed Nov 25, 2020 2:41 pm

BealineV953 wrote:
GDB wrote:
The777Man wrote:
Never heard that phrase before either but I think it refers to the joint maintenance pool and cooperation that existed between some European Airlines. I think it included AY, SK, KL, SN, SR, IB and AZ and specifically for the DC-10 that all of these airlines flew. I could be wrong..

The777Man


I think you are right, it's an informal term for the airlines to cooperate with maintenance of the new widebodies, both 747 and DC-10, mostly for the DC-10 and CF-6 as well as 747, those carriers that also operated 747-200's also had generally that powerplant, though 747-100's and it's powerplant would have been included too.


The KSSU group (KLM, SAS, Swissair and UTA) pooled maintenance of the DC-10.
I think it may have expanded to include another airline or two and the 747, but I don't think it was ever a grouping of seven airlines.

I worked in the airline industry for nearly 40 years, and have never heard the 'seven sisters' expression applied to airlines in western Europe.


That's the group I was thinking of though not called 'seven sisters', first I have heard of that, certainly not in my 37 years at BA, who to my knowledge were not part of it, maybe in the 70's given how they did maintenance on ANZ DC-10's.
 
factsonly
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Re: Who were the "seven sisters of Western European Aviation" during the 70s?

Wed Nov 25, 2020 4:09 pm

AntonioMartin wrote:
I just read on Wikipedia that Swissair was one of the seven sisters of western European aviation in the 70s but the article doesnt offer the names of the other six...

Thanks for the info!


Considering this was written under the Swissair entry in Wikipedia, I'll offer another possible explanation.

The seven sisters were the seven West European flag carriers operating Douglas aircraft in the 1970's, of which Swissair was one:

1. SK - DC9, DC8, DC10
2. KL - DC9, DC8, DC10
3. SR - DC9, DC8, DC10
4. AZ - DC9, DC8, DC10
5. IB - DC9, DC8, DC10
6. AY - DC9, DC8, DC10
7. OS - DC9

Yes, some introduced Boeing aircraft over the years.
 
GDB
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Re: Who were the "seven sisters of Western European Aviation" during the 70s?

Wed Nov 25, 2020 6:20 pm

factsonly wrote:
AntonioMartin wrote:
I just read on Wikipedia that Swissair was one of the seven sisters of western European aviation in the 70s but the article doesnt offer the names of the other six...

Thanks for the info!


Considering this was written under the Swissair entry in Wikipedia, I'll offer another possible explanation.

The seven sisters were the seven West European flag carriers operating Douglas aircraft in the 1970's, of which Swissair was one:

1. SK - DC9, DC8, DC10
2. KL - DC9, DC8, DC10
3. SR - DC9, DC8, DC10
4. AZ - DC9, DC8, DC10
5. IB - DC9, DC8, DC10
6. AY - DC9, DC8, DC10
7. OS - DC9

Yes, some introduced Boeing aircraft over the years.


Sounds about right, which is why those who were in other European carriers were not aware of that term though were of the KSSU and ATLAS ones.
 
CDGIAD
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Re: Who were the "seven sisters of Western European Aviation" during the 70s?

Wed Nov 25, 2020 7:17 pm

I would say the seven sisters would be AF, LH, KL, Swissair, SN , AZ and IB.

That's the airlines that come to mind when thinking about big European airlines.
Old travel agencies signs I remember usually displayed at least AF, LH, AZ and Swissair, sometimes alson the 3 others I mentionned. Strangely not BA.
 
cedarjet
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Re: Who were the "seven sisters of Western European Aviation" during the 70s?

Wed Nov 25, 2020 7:19 pm

PatrickZ80 wrote:
cedarjet wrote:
So grab a map of Europe, and count the number of countries. That’s how many sisters.


Not entirely true, given that the map of Europe has changed quite a bit since then. It would of course be true if you look at what the map of Europe looked like in those days.

This is also the reason Slovakia never had a national airline, after all in those days it was part of Czechoslovakia. The national airline, CSA, became the national airline of Czech leaving Slovakia without a national airline.

Such a shame. There’s always one isn’t there. Obviously I meant a map of Europe in the 80s. It crossed my mind that I should add that but typing on my phone is a pain and I felt it was self explanatory. How wrong I was.
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American 767
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Re: Who were the "seven sisters of Western European Aviation" during the 70s?

Wed Nov 25, 2020 8:06 pm

factsonly wrote:
AntonioMartin wrote:
I just read on Wikipedia that Swissair was one of the seven sisters of western European aviation in the 70s but the article doesnt offer the names of the other six...

Thanks for the info!


Considering this was written under the Swissair entry in Wikipedia, I'll offer another possible explanation.

The seven sisters were the seven West European flag carriers operating Douglas aircraft in the 1970's, of which Swissair was one:

1. SK - DC9, DC8, DC10
2. KL - DC9, DC8, DC10
3. SR - DC9, DC8, DC10
4. AZ - DC9, DC8, DC10
5. IB - DC9, DC8, DC10
6. AY - DC9, DC8, DC10
7. OS - DC9

Yes, some introduced Boeing aircraft over the years.


Cargolux also had DC-8s during the 70s. And so did Icelandair.
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factsonly
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Re: Who were the "seven sisters of Western European Aviation" during the 70s?

Wed Nov 25, 2020 9:33 pm

American 767 wrote:
factsonly wrote:
Considering this was written under the Swissair entry in Wikipedia, I'll offer another possible explanation.

The seven sisters were the seven West European flag carriers operating Douglas aircraft in the 1970's, of which Swissair was one:

1. SK - DC9, DC8, DC10
2. KL - DC9, DC8, DC10
3. SR - DC9, DC8, DC10
4. AZ - DC9, DC8, DC10
5. IB - DC9, DC8, DC10
6. AY - DC9, DC8, DC10
7. OS - DC9


Cargolux also had DC-8s during the 70s. And so did Icelandair.


Both disqualify for membership of the 'Seven Sisters", as:

- Cargolux (founded in 1970 by Luxair and Loftleidir) is not the flag carrier of Luxembourg.
- Icelandair was born in 1979 on the consolidation of Loftleidir (DC8) and Flugfelag (B727).
 
Gemuser
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Re: Who were the "seven sisters of Western European Aviation" during the 70s?

Thu Nov 26, 2020 12:05 am

The pharse "the seven sisters" has been around since the 1960s, at least. A search of back issues of Flight International would probably turn it up because that where I would have read it.

Gemuser
 
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Brixerl
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Re: Who were the "seven sisters of Western European Aviation" during the 70s?

Thu Nov 26, 2020 1:49 am

I guess, the riddle is solved: the guy, who wrote the text at wikipedia, seems to have the term from an old airline book named „Empire of the Sky“. In there he seems to misunderstood something in the chapter, where there is a discussion, wether IATA - where Swissair was part - was a cartel like the „Seven Sisters“. And this was a prominent name for the big seven oil companies, a cartel, of the time (1940s to 1980s). Look here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_Sis ... _companies)
Last edited by Brixerl on Thu Nov 26, 2020 1:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Brixerl
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Re: Who were the "seven sisters of Western European Aviation" during the 70s?

Thu Nov 26, 2020 1:50 am

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SheikhDjibouti
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Re: Who were the "seven sisters of Western European Aviation" during the 70s?

Thu Nov 26, 2020 3:22 am

factsonly wrote:
American 767 wrote:
Cargolux also had DC-8s during the 70s. And so did Icelandair.


Both disqualify for membership of the 'Seven Sisters", as:

- Cargolux (founded in 1970 by Luxair and Loftleidir) is not the flag carrier of Luxembourg.
- Icelandair was born in 1979 on the consolidation of Loftleidir (DC8) and Flugfelag (B727).


I guess I see what you are attempting to say, but it hasn't travelled well.
Firstly, wikipedia does not make any case for the sisters automatically being flag carriers.
I would discount these airlines simply because of their small size, and the fact one was a cargo carrier.

And Icelandair was not born in 1979; it had been the internationally recognised brand name for decades.
Nobody outside of Iceland booked a ticket with "Flugfelag".
I don't know exactly how it was handled via the small print, but I would draw a parallel with IAG. You don't see their logo on any aircraft, and if you ask any passenger they will tell you they are flying BA or IB or....
Actually, it's more like Aero O/Y, the company everybody else refers to as "Finnair".

However, assuming your point was that the DC-8s belonged to Lofleidir, and only came under the Icelandair brand after merger in 1979, then you are correct.

Icelandair (Flugfelag) Viscount from 1964, and Boeing 727 from 1976.


And an Aero O/Y CV-440 from 1963, with "Aero O/Y" on the tail, "Finnair" on the fuselage, and their IATA code "AY" on the rear fuselage. Finnair only became the official name in 1968.
Nothing to see here; move along please.
 
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AMIKI
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Re: Who were the "seven sisters of Western European Aviation" during the 70s?

Thu Nov 26, 2020 7:21 am

Another possibility: the seven founder Airlines of the "Qualiflyer Group" : AOM French Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Crossair, Sabena, Swissair, TAP and Turkish Airlines?

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