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Swissair plane
IATA code : SR
ICAO code : SWR
Call sign : SWISSAIR
Founding: 1931
Operation stopped: 2002
Seat: Kloten , SwitzerlandSwitzerlandSwitzerland 
Turnstile :
Home airport : Zurich
Alliance : Global Excellence Alliance (until 1997), Atlantic Excellence Alliance (until 1999); Qualiflyer Group
Fleet size: 76 (+ 9 orders)
Aims: National and international
Swissair ceased operations in 2002. The information in italics refer to the last status before the end of operation.

The Swissair (official name Swissair Swiss Air Transport Aktiengesellschaft ) based in Kloten was from 1931 until its moratorium in October 2001 and wound up in March 2002, the national airline of Switzerland . As a result of the collapse of its parent company SAirGroup , the new Swiss airline Swiss was founded on the basis of the regional airline Crossair . Swiss, which is part of Lufthansa today, uses some of the aircraft and serves a large number of the routes of the former Swissair.


Founding years

Fokker F.VII a, CH-157 later HB-LBO, was mainly used on the Dübendorf - Le Havre - Cherbourg postal route
Comte AC-4 (CH-262) of Swissair on the Lucerne Allmend, summer 1931
Fokker F.VIIb-3 m (CH-192) of Swissair, flown by Walter Mittelholzer in Kassala (Sudan), February 1934

Swissair - Schweizerische Luftverkehr AG was founded on March 26, 1931 through the merger of the airlines Ad Astra Aero (founded in 1919) and Balair (founded in 1925) retroactively to January 1 by Balthasar "Balz" Zimmermann and the Swiss aviation pioneer Walter Mittelholzer . In contrast to other airlines, it was constituted privately without state participation. The short and concise name suggestion Swissair by Alphonse Ehinger, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Balair, was able to prevail, although most of the Board of Directors initially rejected the name as "non-Swiss". In the first year of operation, 64 people were employed, including ten pilots, seven radio operators and eight on-board mechanics. In 13 aircraft, 85 seats were available for passengers during the operating months in summer (March to October). Dübendorf Airport acted as the home base . The length of the route network was 4,203 km, in the first year of operation eight routes were served: Geneva - Zurich - Munich - Vienna , Geneva- Basel - Mannheim - Frankfurt - Cologne - Essen - Amsterdam , Bern -Zürich- Stuttgart - Halle / Leipzig - Berlin , Zurich – Basel– Paris , Geneva– Lyon – Paris, Basel – Zurich – Munich– Prague , Basel– Cherbourg (as a postal route) and Zurich – Lucerne . A total of 724,476 km were flown in the first year of operation. The first year ended with a net profit of 49'453.75 Swiss francs (now adjusted for inflation 354,691 SFr.), A 4% -Dividendenausschüttung of 20 francs per share allowed. A flight to Lake Chad was the first time that passengers were flown over the Sahara according to a set program .

Right from the start, Swissair attached great importance to training pilots to fly blind , especially in the “ZZ” bad weather procedure, a forerunner of the ILS instrument landing system used today . They installed the first Lorenzbake guidance system outside of Germany.

Lockheed Orion, CH-168

On April 17, 1932, Swissair bought two 4-seater Lockheed 9 Orions , at that time the first commercial aircraft with retractable landing gear. As the second European airline after the Czechoslovak airline CSA , it used American aircraft. The Orion was around 100 km / h faster than the aircraft of the European competition and was used on the “express route” Zurich – Munich – Vienna. Due to the success of these "high-speed aircraft", two larger, 10-seater machines of the type Clark GA-43 were also purchased, which from 1934 were mostly used on the routes to Frankfurt and Vienna. With their all-metal construction and radio intercom, the Clark machines were way ahead of their time.

The first transalpine route was started in 1933 with the Zurich – Milan line . In addition, a 30% discount was granted on return tickets in the same year .

In 1934 a Curtiss AT-32C Condor was added, on which stewardesses were used for the first time in Europe from May 1, 1934 . Nelly Diener achieved world fame as Europe's first flight attendant - but died after only 79 flights when the Condor CH-170 crashed near Wurmlingen on July 27, 1934 (one wing was broken off due to material fatigue).

Swissair airline pilot Hans Ernst in front of a Douglas DC-2 in Dübendorf
Cabin of the Douglas DC-2
Flight captain Ernst Nyffenegger in front of a Douglas DC-3 in Dübendorf
Cabin of a Douglas DC-3

As early as 1935, the first Douglas DC-2 machines with silenced cabs were used. For the first time, London ( Croydon ) was added to the route network. New flights were carried out all year round, including in winter. From 1937 the successor model Douglas DC-3 was used with twice the number of seats (28 passengers), which enabled an enormous expansion of the flight kilometers and transport income offered. In the same year, the two managing directors Walter Mittelholzer and Balthasar «Balz» Zimmermann died in quick succession. Mittelholzer had an accident while mountain climbing in Styria , Zimmermann died of an infectious disease.

DH Dragon Rapide HB-APA in Dübendorf
Dragon Rapide cabin

In 1937 the Ostschweizerische Aero-Gesellschaft, St. Gallen, was taken over. This was the first time that a British aircraft was added to the fleet. The route Zurich – St. Gallen – Munich was now flown with a Dragon Rapide . Henry Pillichody, director and chief pilot of the Bernese Alpar, was won over as technical director as the successor to the deceased managing director. Eugen Groh was nominated as the commercial director.

First direct flight London - Samedan with the Douglas DC-2-115-D, HB-ISI 1938
Junkers Ju-86 B-1, HB-IXE in Dübendorf
Cabin of the Junkers Ju-86 B-1

The year 1939 was marked by several accidents: On January 7, a DC-2 collided with a hill near Senlis near Paris while approaching due to poor visibility . The two pilots and the flight attendant Josie Brooke were killed. Twelve passengers survived the accident. On July 20, a Ju 86 had an accident near Konstanz . The longest-serving flight captain and well-known author of countless pilot books, Walter Ackermann, was killed. The Zurich – Basel – Rotterdam –Amsterdam line has been added as an innovation in the route network.

Struggle for survival in World War II

1940s SR logo

On August 27, 1939, the airspace over Germany and France was closed - the lines to Amsterdam, Paris and London had to be closed. Two days later, Swissair had to cease all flight operations. Of the 180 employees, 131 were drafted into the military. 85 employees had to be laid off. At the end of 1939 there were 95 employees on the payroll. The financial year ended with a loss for the first time since it was founded.

DC-2 in Dübendorf. Flag hoisted: machine is ready to go!

In 1940 the operation was temporarily relocated to Locarno-Magadino in Ticino because of the impending invasion from the north . From there, flight operations to the not yet warring countries Italy and Spain began. The Locarno – Rome and Locarno – Barcelona routes were operated for around six months . The tickets were offered for CHF 85 (Rome) and CHF 200 (Barcelona) (today, adjusted for inflation, CHF 604 or CHF 1,420). The latter route was used in particular by Jewish emigrants. After Italy entered the war, the line had to be stopped again. From September 1940 only the Zurich – Munich route could be operated. Otherwise, occasional round trips or, more precisely, whooping cough flights were organized as well as isolated gold shipments to Belgrade on behalf of the Swiss Bank Association . From then on , the aircraft were given a striking red and white neutral paint to better identify the air defense . Despite the sale of spare parts and a DC-3 to the Swedish A / B Aerotransport , a loss had to be reported for 1940. The number of passengers carried fell by 95% compared to the last year before the war.

DC-2-115-D, HB-ISI with red and white neutrality protection strips

On November 19, 1941, the route Zurich could Stuttgart - Berlin resume. The flight to Munich was discontinued for this. The 1941 annual result closed for the first time with a small profit, thanks to work orders from third parties and staff records.

1942 closed with a profit thanks to this special income. The capacity utilization of the ton-kilometers offered rose to 74.8%, the highest level since the company was founded.

From January 30, 1943, the route to Berlin could only be flown on the Zurich – Stuttgart section. For the transport of delegations to Berlin, extension flights could only be carried out with a special permit.

In 1944 the air war over Europe intensified and overflight permits became rarer. On August 9, a DC-2 machine in Stuttgart was completely destroyed during an American bomb attack . From August 17, 1944, flight operations were finally ceased due to the massive air raids over southern German territory. The offered mileage fell to 75,376 km, which corresponded to around 5% of the pre-war flight operations. Despite special income from work orders from third parties and staff backing up, a loss again had to be reported for the 1944 operating year.

Post-war years

On July 30, 1945, Swissair was able to resume flight operations on the Geneva-Paris and Zurich-Paris routes. From September 19, there were flights to Amsterdam and from September 29 to London. In addition, individual destinations could be served by special flights: Lisbon , Barcelona, Tunis and Malmö -Bulltofta. After the end of the war, the demand for flights increased exponentially, which was reflected in the record high occupancy rate of 93% for 1945. Two brand-new Douglas DC-3s and six Dakotas from American army stocks supplemented the fleet from 1946 (2 of them as cargo machines). New flights to Prague , Warsaw , Brussels , Stockholm and Malmö were partly in pool with other airlines. At the end of December, the first long-haul flight ever to Lydda and Cairo was carried out with a Douglas DC-4 that had recently been acquired .

DC-4-1009 A, HB-ILA over New York City
DC-4-1009 A, HB-ILA with hostesses Pia Goth and Hedwig Hofmann in Geneva 1946
Cabin of a DC-4

In 1947 the share capital was increased from one to 20 million Swiss francs, so that long-haul flights to New York and to destinations in South Africa and South America with Douglas DC-4 aircraft were now possible. The first flight to New York took place on May 2, 1947: The maiden flight took off from Geneva via Shannon and Stephenville to Washington , as New York's LaGuardia airport could not be approached due to fog . The effective flight time was 20 hours and fifty-five minutes. More modern twin-engine Convair CV-240 machines, the first at Swissair with a pressurized cabin, were purchased for short and medium-haul routes. In addition, aircraft and staff from ALPAR, the Swiss airline based in Bern, were taken over. The public sector (Swiss Confederation, cantons , municipalities as well as SBB and PTT ) took a 30.6% stake in Swissair's share capital and enabled the airline to purchase two new Douglas DC-6 B aircraft with a loan of CHF 15 million to order for the long haul. This made Swissair the “National Carrier” of Switzerland. The original plan was to rent three older Lockheed Constellation L-049s from KLM . An air travel agency was opened at Zurich main station . In addition, the new headquarters of the central administration could be moved into at the Hirschengraben in Zurich . The operating year 1947 closed with a net profit of CHF 787,601 (today CHF 3,857,603 adjusted for inflation) which enabled a dividend of 3% or CHF 15.- per share. For the first time, a profitability of 100% was achieved - without any state subsidy.

Douglas DC-6B-1198, HB-IBA

From June 1948 the home airport of Dübendorf was transferred to the newly built intercontinental airport (“ Zurich Airport ”) in Kloten. Scheduled flight operations in Dübendorf were suspended on November 17th. The first calculating machines - punch card punching machines - were put into operation. Air travel agencies were opened in the train stations of Bern, Geneva and Basel. Exotic destinations in the Middle East such as Lydda, Basra and Abadan were served according to the schedule. Test and special flights were used to fly to Johannesburg and Bombay .

In September 1949, the airline plunged into a financial crisis due to the sudden devaluation of the British pound , as all air fares outside the USA were calculated using the British currency. At that time England traffic generated 40% of the income. The company faced a significant drop in tariff levels and a sudden drop in revenue of nearly 30%. As a result, the year under review closed with a loss of CHF 3.6 million (today, inflation-adjusted CHF 17,000,000). Two aircraft were sold, the workforce significantly reduced and the share capital reduced from CHF 20 to 14 million. As an aid, the two Douglas DC-6 long-haul aircraft that had been ordered were acquired by the federal government and an amortization fund to be accumulated jointly was created.


50/60 / 70s SR logo
Convair CV-240 Liner, HB-IRV
Convair CV-240 Liner, HB-IRW
Convair CV-440 Metropolitain, HB-IMP
Convair CV-440 Metropolitain, HB-IML

In June 1950, Walter Berchtold , then head of the Zurich District Directorate of the Swiss Federal Railways, was elected to the Board of Directors and at the same time elected President of the Board of Directors. Until 1971 he shaped the corporate culture of society like no other . It was he who recognized the great importance of image cultivation. Following the example of the BOAC Speedbird , he introduced the arrow- shaped logo that had been used for decades . In addition, the fleet was given a new color scheme: instead of being entirely silver, as was previously the case, the upper part of the fuselage was painted snow-white and bore the inscription "Swiss Air Lines". At window level, two thin, red stripes marked the end of the metallic lower part of the body. The Swiss cross was emblazoned on a bright red background across the entire surface of the rudder . All aircraft were renamed according to cantons and their coats of arms were emblazoned under the cockpit windows. Particular attention was paid to the uniforms of the flight personnel. Previously, they were based on the military style of women's aid in the Swiss army and were kept in gray-blue, but the hostesses were now dressed in fashionable navy blue. In this regard, Swissair was seen as the real trendsetter , setting off a fashion race among the competition. In order to stimulate demand, reduced tariffs were introduced for the first time on night flights to England.

In 1951, the Dutch KLM, together with the Belgian Sabena , pushed for the greatest possible cooperation, including pool agreements, joint representation of interests in the commercial area, joint material management, standardization of flight material and the use of the entire fleet according to mutually agreed plans. These plans were not implemented due to other pressing funding problems. Starting in August 1951, regular scheduled service to New York began with the two newly delivered DC-6Bs. Because of the limited range, two technical landings each had to be planned in Shannon and Gander . In New York, offices and an air travel agency were moved into the Rockefeller Center near 5th Avenue . The same was opened in London on Regent Street . In response to growing demand, four more DC-6B long-haul aircraft were ordered.

In the early 1950s, Swissair began to organize operations based on the United Airlines model : the operations center was built on the model of the operations center in Denver . The training of the pilots was adapted to their practice (including all manuals and manuals), and hostesses and stewards were trained at the United Airlines training center in Cheyenne, Wyoming , which was then a leader in customer service. The organization also underwent a profound restructuring: the traditional division of the management into a commercial and a technical directorate was replaced by a structure divided into four specialist departments: traffic and sales, finance, operations and technology.

In 1952, a first class and a tourist class (with 30% lower tariffs) were introduced for the first time on North Atlantic flights in addition to the previous standard class. The first class was furnished with comfortable sleeping chairs and marketed as “slumberettes”. A short time later these were replaced by the introduction of beds based on the model of the American railroad Pullman cars . You could push two opposite seats together and turn them into a "Lower Berth". Above it, you could fold down the sloping wall and turn it into "Upper Berth". A year later, the tourist class was introduced on European flights. Due to an acute shortage of pilots, foreign pilots were hired for the first time; a consequence of the general upswing in air traffic: in 1952, for the first time, more people entered the United States by plane than by ship. For the first time, a Swissair director took over the presidency of IATA , whose general assembly took place in Geneva. As early as 1952, there was close cooperation with other airlines such as Sabena , KLM , Air France and SAS in the technical and operational areas: This included shared spare parts stores and the joint operation of handling, mechanic and flight preparation services. Because of the conflict between the Iranian government and the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company , Abadan's operations had to be suspended.

In 1953, Swissair founded the charter airline Balair together with the city of Basel . The overseas flights to New York formed the backbone of the Swissair route network despite the lack of transit rights. The right to take on local passengers on stopovers to North America has been denied for both London and Paris. In the Middle East, Istanbul and Beirut were served. The safety in flight operations was declared as the top priority. Accordingly, technical regulations and generally applicable service regulations were issued, and pilots were only used on a single type of aircraft. In addition, regular control flights under the supervision of instructors were introduced. A first flight simulator was purchased for pilot training. After the introduction of airways , more and more European routes could be flown without radio operators , which is why they began to be retrained as navigators . A pension fund was created for all employees, replacing the previous welfare reserve fund. The new airport was moved into at Kloten Airport, which, with its modern, spacious rooms, made a significant contribution to increasing the comfort of passengers and spectators. In New York, passenger handling has been relocated to the new " East Side Air Terminal ".

After ditching a machine in the English Channel , all aircraft were equipped with life jackets from June 1954 . From May 27, 1954, the South Atlantic was added to the route network with flights to São Paulo and stopovers in Lisbon , Dakar , Recife and Rio de Janeiro .

In 1955, shareholder vouchers for flight discounts were created for the first time as a natural dividend. This bypassed the strict IATA tariff regulations and at the same time increased demand in the months with less traffic, as these were only valid between October and June. The two long-haul aircraft of the type DC-6B financed by the federal government were bought. In addition, with a view to further expansion, the share capital was increased from CHF 14 to 42 million francs. The route network was expanded with a freight course to New York with a convertible DC-4 and the extension of the Istanbul-Beirut route to Damascus . Because of a protracted strike by French air traffic control personnel, flights to Nice and Paris had to be suspended from mid-November until the end of the year. In addition, the lines to England, New York and South America had to be flown with detours. With the construction of a school building in Kloten, people began to take basic training into their own hands; previously almost exclusively military pilots were employed. Thanks to the flight simulator, emergencies such as engine defects or malfunctions in the hydraulic system could be trained. The workforce in 1955 was already twice as large as in 1950 and seven times as large as in 1945.

Douglas DC-7C Seven Seas , HB-IBK

As a European launch customer, Swissair bought the Douglas DC-7C in 1956 , making non-stop flights to the USA possible for the first time. This meant that there were no stopovers in Ireland and Newfoundland for the first time . The Convair CV-440 Metropolitan was put into operation for the short haul . For the first time, this model was equipped with on-board radar systems, climate and air pressure regulation and its own extendable telescopic staircase. In the same year, Swissair became particularly in the United States big celebrity because she organized a special flight of their own accord to specialists of the Swiss Air Rescue ( parachutists and mountain guide ) to the Grand Canyon to fly to the victims of the aircraft accident of 30 June 1956 to to recover. With the help of a steel cable rescue device, the rescue team descended into the gorge at temperatures of around 55 ° C to retrieve the human remains. The use of helicopters was impossible because of the enormous heat. During the turmoil in Hungary , aid transports were flown to Budapest on behalf of the Red Cross . In addition, the first contingents of the United Nations Emergency Forces were transported from Naples to Abu Suweir in the Suez Canal zone with a total of 37 flights . In terms of organization, a new planning service was created to deal with the design of the fleet and route network. The later managing director Armin Baltensweiler was appointed as head. The route network was only slightly expanded in 1956 with scheduled flights to Palma de Mallorca . Due to lack of space in the headquarters at Hirschengraben in Zurich, land on the Klotener Balsberg was bought as a precaution to create space for a central administration building.

1957 was marked by great expansion: when two more DC-7Cs and four Metropolitains joined the fleet, the total supply of tonne-kilometers increased by 53% compared to the previous year. This enabled the Far East to be included in the route network. The introduction of direct flights to Tokyo was considered a bold undertaking at the time. The route was flown in two variants: on the one hand with stopovers in Athens , Karachi , Bombay , Bangkok and Manila , on the other hand via Calcutta instead of Bombay and Hong Kong instead of Manila. A separate flight kitchen was set up in Karachi. The South America route was extended to Montevideo and Buenos Aires . In addition to direct flights, the North Atlantic routes were now flown via Cologne and Lisbon. In the Middle East, the line via Beirut and Baghdad to Dhahran on the Persian Gulf was opened. In winter, domestic feeder flights to Davos , St. Moritz , Zermatt / Täsch and La Chaux-de-Fonds were carried out on an experimental basis. In order to stimulate demand during the low-traffic times of the year, emigrants were offered much cheaper tariffs. An operations control center for flight preparation and monitoring has been set up at Kloten Airport. In administration, an electronic data processing system with a magnetic drum computer from IBM was put into operation, which replaced the previous punch card machines. A management consultancy agreement was signed with Aristoteles Onassis , which provided Swissair experts for the establishment of the newly formed Olympic Airways . Similar agreements have been concluded with the Portuguese TAP and the Austrian AUA .

Transition into the jet age

Swissair decided to enter the jet age directly without detours via the new turboprop aircraft. In 1958, Swissair signed an extensive cooperation agreement with the Scandinavian airline SAS . Both companies had practically followed the same material policy and had largely similar fleets. The two partners jointly ordered jet aircraft with different ranges: the Douglas DC-8 for long-haul routes, the Convair CV-880 for medium- haul flights and the Caravelle for European and Mediterranean traffic . All aircraft were built in a standardized way between the two companies. In addition, a pool contract, an aircraft rental contract and an overhaul and maintenance contract were agreed. The training and education of the crew was organized jointly and the operating and maintenance regulations (manuals) were jointly drawn up. To finance the expansion of the fleet, the share capital was increased from CHF 42 to 63 million and a bond of CHF 30 million was issued. Thanks to the delivery of the fifth DC-7C, more than a million passengers were transported for the first time in 1958. The route network has been expanded with feeder services to Bern and the connection to Bahrain . In addition, a new pure freighter type DC-6A was deployed on the North Atlantic. Intercontinental traffic already contributed 60% of the revenues, with the North Atlantic being the most important source of income with 29%. 80% of the route income was accounted for by passages, 2% by excess baggage, 10% by freight and 8% by mail. The industrialist Ernst Schmidheiny was elected to succeed Rudolf V. Heberlein, Chairman of the Board of Directors, who died suddenly . Shift work was introduced in the Kloten workshops due to the increased workload and increased orders from foreign companies . For the first time, apprentices were hired.

In 1959 the share capital was increased again, now to CHF 105 million. As a result, the number of shareholders rose to over 10,000. According to the articles of association , only Swiss citizens, Swiss corporations and institutions or companies under Swiss law and with a “Swiss character” could become shareholders. In addition, another bond in the amount of CHF 50 million was taken out. Swissair took a 40% stake in Balair, which was founded in 1953, and gave it the last two DC-4s on favorable terms. A special Dornier Do-27 aircraft was purchased for the Swissair Photo AG subsidiary, which is active in surveying flight services. A Pilatus P-3 was acquired as its own training aircraft for pilot training . The Convair CV-880 ordered the previous year were converted to the slightly larger and faster Convair CV-990 Coronado, which was developed a little later . The route network was expanded in the Middle East in 1959 with flights to Ankara , Kuwait and Tehran . Bern was now served with a DC-3 twice a day. Because of the limited space at Zurich-Kloten Airport, an Air Terminus was opened at Zurich Central Station. As an innovation, first class customers on North Atlantic routes were able to select their personal menu when making a reservation. The network of foreign representations was expanded to 81 worldwide. A separate service hangar was built for aircraft maintenance in New York-Idlewild and separate apprentice workshops were set up in Kloten.

Sud Aviation Caravelle, HB-ICX
Douglas DC-8-32

The delivery of the first DC-8 long-haul jets was delayed considerably at the beginning of 1960, so that for most of the high season the new aircraft had to be dispensed with. The majority of the crews were retrained for jet aircraft in Scandinavia at SAS. The cost-saving cooperation was implemented at remote stations in the areas of flight preparation, galley, station service and telecommunications. In European traffic, a Caravelle was first used on the Zurich-London route on May 21, 1960 . In addition to London, Düsseldorf, Copenhagen and Stockholm were served by jets for the first time. In addition to the Caravelles and Metropolitains , DC-6B and DC-7C were increasingly used in European traffic, which became free on long and medium-haul routes. The first scheduled connection with a DC-8 took place on May 30, 1960 to New York. On September 27, however, the last North Atlantic course started with a DC-7C. In order to do justice to the increased capacity available, the special tariffs for family and group trips were expanded and new excursion tariffs introduced. Warsaw has been added to the route network. A third Far East frequency was also introduced, but due to a lack of traffic rights for Japan, Hong Kong was the end point. In order to ensure a smooth delivery service to and from the aircraft parking spaces, special buses were purchased at Kloten Airport. A new hangar designed for jet aircraft with a test bench for jet engines was completed. A freight yard was put into operation for the handling of air freight. In order to cover further financial requirements, additional bonds of CHF 50 million each were issued in the spring and autumn of 1960.

In 1961, global demand for air travel slowed. While the number of passengers rose between 10 and 14% annually in previous years, the growth rate in 1961 was only 6%. With the global introduction of large jet aircraft, the capacity in world air traffic has also been massively increased. As a result, many airlines had to post a loss for the 1961 reporting year. Swissair was only able to achieve a modest profit thanks to drastic savings measures and realized book profits from the sale of aircraft with piston engines. For the first time since 1951, no dividend could be distributed. For the first time, the workforce rose to over 7,500; 103 of them apprentices. Abroad, the company was present in 84 agencies, including 37 “off-line” cities that were not served directly. A new on-board service building was moved into at Kloten Airport on April 25, from which 24 companies obtained their on-board catering. In addition, management of the newly opened Tax Free Shops in Kloten and Cointrin as well as the airport restaurant in Basel was taken over. The route network was expanded selectively: The route to Cologne-Bonn was extended to Rotterdam . Rome was now served by Caravelle . In the Middle East, one of the courses was transferred from Dhahran to Khartoum . Since the cargo capacity of the DC-8 was sufficient, the cargo rates of the DC-6A Cargoliner to New York were discontinued. The long delay in the delivery of the Coronados meant that, from the summer of 1961, all long and medium-haul routes and a large part of the European routes could not be served with jet aircraft as planned. The DC-6B remained in service in the Far East until September and the DC-7C in the South Atlantic until the end of the year. As a temporary replacement, General Dynamics made two Convair CV-880M aircraft available for a few months from autumn 1961.

Convair CV-990 Coronado, HB-ICC
Convair CV-990 Coronado, HB-ICE

The first Coronados were then delivered at the beginning of 1962 - eight months late. Swissair had to modify the delivered machines in-house so that the aircraft met the expected performance characteristics: The thrust reverser flaps were hidden under an outflow cone in order to improve the wind slippage. In addition, the slats were replaced by Kruger flaps and the transition from the rear edge of the wing to the fuselage was modified to improve the outflow conditions. The Coronado was from 1962 to 1968 as the fastest commercial aircraft in the world. It only lost this rating with the first flights of the Tupolev Tu-144 and the Concorde . In the course of 1962, Swissair was able to complete the conversion of its operations to jet aircraft after the last DC-6B and DC-7C aircraft were sold. Swissair thus had one of the most modern fleets in the world. Only where the use of jet planes was not worthwhile due to short distances and modest volume of traffic, the reliable and popular Metrops were still used. Thanks to the changeover, flight operating costs per tonne-kilometer offered could be kept below CHF 1.00. The daily fleet utilization of the DC-8 averaged 10.9 hours, Coronado 7.7 hours, Caravelle 6.9 hours and Metrop 6.0 hours. The year under review closed with a net profit of CHF 7.6 million; a remarkable result, because in contrast to many competitors who could count on subsidies from the state, Swissair had to prove year after year that an international airline could operate without subsidies. Innovations in the route network included flights to Lagos and Accra in West Africa, the resumption of flights to Abadan , direct flights to New York (for the first time without a stopover), new destinations in North America with Montreal and Chicago and finally the extension of the South Atlantic route to Santiago de Chile . The flight to Santiago lasted 17 hours, the longest flight on the route network with the exception of Tokyo (20 hours). At Zurich Airport, the shuttle service from the city terminus at Zurich main station was provided with its own buses. In addition to the DC-3 and the Pilatus P-3, two Piaggio P-149s were now available for pilot training .

Continuous upswing

Caravelle, HB-ICX
Caravelle, HB-ICS
DC-8-53, HB-IDD
DC-8-53, HB-IDD
DC-9-15, HB-IFB
DC-9-32, HB-IFM
DC-9-32, HB-IFS
DC-9-32, HB-IFV
DC-8-62, HB-IDE
DC-8-62, HB-IDF
DC-8-62, HB-IDG
BAC 1-11, G-AWYS

After the rapid expansion in 1960–1962, 1963 was a year of consolidation. The fleet was topped up with a further developed DC-8 with dual-current engines and the route network was expanded selectively: Algiers and Milan were now served from Geneva; a frequency increase to Lagos and Accra was refused by the African authorities. On the other hand, a Coronado with crew was rented to Ghana Airways for the Accra-London route. In order to be able to meet the peak demand in the freight sector during rush hour, transport space has been reserved for cargo planes of the American Seabord World Airways. In addition, night freight services were used to London and Manchester . 85% of the route income resulted from passenger, 9% from freight and 6% from mail. The financial year ended with a net profit of CHF 7.6 million, which made it possible to increase the dividend to 6%. The increased financial strength allowed Swissair to cover the additional DC-8 entirely from self-generated funds and to pay in cash; nevertheless, with a view to future investments, the share capital was increased to CHF 140 million. In the meantime, Swissair has enjoyed an excellent reputation in terms of personnel training: Yugoslav pilots were retrained on the Caravelle and station personnel from Syrian Arab Airlines , Iraqi Airways , Air Algérie , LOT and JAT were trained by Swissair. To accommodate the crew, a dedicated crew house “Foyer des Equipages” with 100 rooms was inaugurated at Geneva-Cointrin Airport. A collective labor contract was put into effect for the ground staff with a 44-hour working week. The senior executives at home and abroad were invited to one-week courses in which management concepts and techniques were taught. The year 1963 was overshadowed by the hitherto most serious accident in the company's history: On September 4th, a Caravelle crashed on the way from Zurich to Geneva near Dürrenäsch . A wheel suspension broke off during take-off. This caused an unnoticed fire in the landing gear shaft after the landing gear was retracted. During the climb, the fire spread and there was a loss of control systems and maneuverability. Finally, the plane crashed to the ground, parts hit a farm. All 80 people on board died; 43 of the victims came from the village of Humlikon in the canton of Zurich, which lost a fifth of its inhabitants as a result of the accident.

1964 was considered a record year in world aviation. For the first time, the year under review closed with a double-digit million figure (CHF 14.9 million), despite additional depreciation amounting to CHF 31 million. The income generated in the company exceeded direct monetary expenditure by more than CHF 100 million, so self-financing was lost more than CHF 15 million more than the amount earned in the previous year. The fleet was expanded with a sixth Coronado and a Caravelle rented by Air France . New were Tunis and Tripoli added to the route network. In contrast, the line to Dhahran was discontinued because the oil companies operating there increasingly replaced foreign employees with local staff. The flight operating costs could be further reduced, for the first time below CHF 0.90 per offered tonne-kilometer. Twelve DC-9s were ordered to replace the Metropolitains used in European traffic . The punctuality rate could be increased from 84.1% to 85.9%. Almost half (44.4%) of the 8,682 employees were under 30 years of age, 76% younger than 40. Eugen Groh, CFO, who had been a member of the management team since 1936, retired. In order to further advance automation, an IBM 360/40 system was ordered that enabled real-time data processing: branch offices could be connected directly to the electronic data center via telephony and telegraph lines.

20 years after the resumption of flight operations, global air traffic took off again. Swissair closed the reporting year 1965 with the best result in its history: With an operating surplus of CHF 122 million and a net profit of CHF 18.6 million, a bonus of CHF 7.- per share was paid out in addition to a dividend of 6% . The fleet was expanded with a Fokker F-27 Friendship , which was rented to BALAIR in order to operate connecting flights from Bern-Belp on behalf of Swissair . Two more Piaggios P-149s were purchased for pilot training. In addition, the Caravelles and Coronados were rebuilt to increase the capacity. Four Caravelles , which had previously been left to operate by SAS, were taken over as property. New were Abidjan and Monrovia served and the route to Algiers until after Casablanca extended for Abadan was abandoned for the same reasons as Dhahran in the previous year. In Europe there were new flights to Budapest and Zagreb . The production costs per offered tonne-kilometer were again reduced, now to CHF 0.85. BALAIR DC-4 cargo planes with large loading doors were used to England. Commercial cooperation agreements existed with 25 foreign airlines, mostly pool agreements, which included mutual coordination of flight plans. It was agreed with KLM that Swissair would overhaul the engines of the future DC-9s of both companies, while KLM would take care of the fan engines of the DC-8 fleet. The previous Chairman of the Board of Directors, Ernst Schmidheiny, handed over the presidency to Ing.Fritz Gugelmann, who had been a member of the council since 1958. The housing cooperative for air traffic (SILU) inaugurated a housing estate with 184 apartments in Embrach in order to create living space for the staff. Another project with 204 apartments was realized in Bachenbülach .

World air traffic continued its upswing in 1966; The good results of the previous year could be exceeded again: The generated operating surplus rose to CHF 133.5 million and the net profit to CHF 22.6 million. This enabled a dividend payment of 8%. Once again, the share capital was increased - now to CHF 219 million: thanks to an amendment to the Articles of Association, bearer shares were now issued in addition to the registered shares , which foreigners could buy. The first three units of the new DC-9 short-range jet aircraft were put into service, which were to gradually replace the last piston-engine aircraft. As soon as it was delivered, Swissair decided to change parts of the original order to the slightly larger model (30 series). This type of aircraft became the backbone of the short and medium-haul fleet. The stretched version (DC-9-32) was only developed thanks to Swissair's persuasion. For the first time it appeared as a worldwide first orderer ( launching carrier ). In addition, two long-haul aircraft of the type DC-8-62 were ordered, one of them as a "Jet Trader", a mixed passenger and cargo version. It was agreed with SAS that the cockpits of the new DC-8 and DC-9 aircraft will be standardized - an essential prerequisite for the mutual exchange of aircraft and crew at any time. The route network could be consolidated thanks to two additional Coronados taken over from SAS . New destinations were Montevideo and Khartoum . Due to various strikes by the competition, seat occupancy could be increased significantly: The seats on the direct route to New York were occupied to 99.6% in August. At the suggestion of Swissair, discounts of 25% for young people between 12 and 22 years of age were introduced as IATA tariffs in European traffic. An air travel agency was opened on Zurich's Bahnhofstrasse ; those in London and New York expanded to “Swiss Centers” that took on representative tasks for Switzerland. In administration, booking an IBM 360-65 data center was automated, which was considered the largest automation project in Switzerland at the time. In addition, the new administration building "Balsberg" was moved into, which made it possible to combine the previously spatially fragmented central administration in one building. As of January 1, 1967, the Federal Department of Transport and Energy granted Swissair a 15-year concession, which confirmed its position as a national airline.

The steep upswing of recent years stuttered slightly in 1967, caused by the effects of economic recession in various industrialized countries and the political events in the Middle East. The operating surplus fell by 11% compared to the previous year, but was still impressive at CHF 199.5 million and again allowed a dividend of 8%. For the first time since 1962, investments in fixed assets were greater than self-financing. A bond for CHF 60 million at 5.5% was taken out. Intercontinental traffic was still the backbone of the route network, accounting for 69% of total revenues. Further units of the DC-9-15 and the larger DC-9-32 joined the fleet in 1968. Due to delivery delays, a BAC 1-11 was rented from British Eagle. Due to the increased use of jet aircraft on European routes, flight times were shortened to such an extent that the on-board catering had to be adjusted due to lack of time: On certain short routes, a new lunch box was handed out. There were delivery delays with the DC-8-62, which replaced the older DC-8-32. After purchasing another Fokker F-27, which was in turn operated by BALAIR, a direct connection to Paris was offered from Bern. At the Annual General Meeting on April 28, 1968, it was announced that the Board of Directors had decided on the same day to order two large Boeing 747 aircraft : with a 19-person crew, 32 first-class and 321 economy passengers and 10 tons were to be expected from 1971 Freight can be transported on the Switzerland-New York route. In addition, 10 aircraft were ordered by SIAT 223 Flamingo for basic flight training . To accommodate the DC-9 and the B-747, the shipyard I had to be expanded by 6900 m² and raised by 6 m. New destinations in the flight plan were Helsinki , Bucharest , Málaga and Moscow . After opening offices in Albany , Minneapolis and St. Louis , more than 100 sales representatives were maintained for the first time. The workforce broke the 10,000 mark for the first time and at the end of 1967 was 10,356.

The reporting year 1968 was marked by a fundamental change in the fleet: two DC-8-62, one DC-8-62 Jet Trader and 13 DC-9-32 were put into service, while a DC-8-32, a Coronado , the five DC-9-15, the rented BAC-1-11, three Caravelles as well as all remaining Metropolitans and DC-3 ceased operations. Thus, Swissair was one of the first airlines in the world to exclusively use jet aircraft. A total of CHF 324 million was invested in fixed assets, of which CHF 155 million came from self-financing. This was made possible by the fact that the usual depreciation period of ten years with 10% residual value in the previous years was reduced to six years. Another bond of CHF 80 million was issued. The total debt increased to CHF 300 million as a result. The routes to Asia and South America were flown with DC-8 throughout. New additions to the route network were Nairobi , Dar es Salaam and the return to Johannesburg . At the Swiss airports, the creation of the loading papers was automated: The handling staff passed the data on via the keyboard of their check-in sets for electronic processing. At Zurich Airport, a station control center set up according to the most modern principles was put into operation, from where the day-to-day operations of the ground services were coordinated and monitored. The freight business experienced an unexpected upturn, with earnings up 31%, which increased its share of total route revenues to 11.5%. The year under review closed again with a high operating surplus of CHF 137 million and a net profit of CHF 27 million, which in turn allowed a dividend of CHF 28.-. The workforce increased to 11,185. At the beginning of the year the cooperation with SAS, which had been running since 1958, was extended and KLM was included as a further contractual partner. The three companies initially formed the KSS Group . In the summer of 1969, the French Union de Transports Aériens (UTA) took part in the alliance, so that in February 1970 the KSSU consortium was formed. This cooperation agreement was aimed at a common operational rationalization with regard to the use of wide-body aircraft. At almost the same time, negotiations on a joint venture began with Austrian. In a declaration of principle, the intention was set out to merge both companies, following the example of the SAS. Austrian should participate in the share capital of Swissair, receive two seats on the board of directors, and the name of the enlarged company should be renamed "Swissair-Austrian". However, this project failed due to the resistance of the contracting parties, insoluble problems under stock corporation law, the fear of losing national identity and not least because of the intervention of the British government, which saw the upcoming sale of BAC 1-11 aircraft to Austrian at risk. It was limited to close technical and operational cooperation.

In 1969 total revenues exceeded CHF 1 billion for the first time and the operating surplus of CHF 192.5 was the highest in history. This enabled both ordinary and extraordinary depreciation, a net profit of CHF 31.5 million and an increased dividend of CHF 30.-. The production costs per offered tonne-kilometer could be reduced to the previous low of CHF 0.81. After an increase in the share capital to CHF 300 million, further wide-body aircraft were ordered: after the B-747 there are now an additional six DC-10 -30s with a capacity of 250 passengers. Freight revenues increased again rapidly, this time by 39%, which increased the share of total route revenues to 13.2%. An important reason was the purchase of a second DC-8-62F Jet Trader and a DC-9-33F. The utilization threshold, the average degree of occupancy required to cover flight operating costs, was 49.4%, above the record value of 47.5% from 1965, but still below 50%. New in the route network were lines to Rotterdam and Manchester , although Innsbruck, which had been served since 1951, had to be abandoned for operational reasons. In the North Atlantic, the line to New York was no longer served via Frankfurt, Tripoli was now served directly and in the Far East Singapore was now served via Colombo . In long-haul transport, cheap group tariffs (Contract Bulk Fares) were introduced. From spring 1969 the new electronic data processing based booking system PARS (Programmed Airline Reservation System) came into use, with the help of which booking data could be viewed, booking orders could be processed, booking statuses of all flights could be updated and seat availability checked. Swissair participated in the three new Zurich hotels Atlantis , Zurich and International and founded Prohotel , a public limited company for hotels and travel. In addition , an agreement was reached with Alitalia , BEA , BOAC and Lufthansa as well as five banks to set up a hotel chain that was to build mid-range hotels in London, Paris, Frankfurt, Munich, Zurich and Rome under the name European Hotel Corporation . A Swissair evening school was founded to train employees at all levels, and construction of a large sports facility was started near Bassersdorf to organize the leisure time for Swissair staff . The workforce increased to 12,071.

On February 21, 1970, nine minutes after taking off on board Swissair flight 330 (Zurich– Tel Aviv-Lod ), a bomb stowed in a piece of luggage exploded in the hold. The crew wanted to fly the machine back to Zurich, but it lost its orientation due to the smoke in the cockpit and the Convair CV-990 (HB-ICD) crashed near Würenlingen . None of the 47 passengers and crew members survived. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine PFLP assumed responsibility for the attack .

On September 6, 1970, Swissair was the victim of multiple kidnapping operations by the PFLP. In a coordinated action, a DC-8 (HB-IDD) from Swissair, a Boeing 707 from the TWA and a Vickers VC10 from the BOAC were hijacked almost simultaneously and landed at Gaza Airport, 60 km northeast of Amman in the middle of the desert near Zarqa on the former airfield Dawson's Field of the Royal Air Force , forced. After days of negotiations, the hostages were released, but all three machines were blown up. As a result, security precautions in air traffic have been massively strengthened worldwide. Insurance premiums now included surcharges for risk of piracy and war.

After the strong upswing in the late 1960s, growth rates flattened somewhat in the 1970 reporting year. The failure of two aircraft was partially offset by renting a BAC-1-11 over the summer months and the extended service of the Caravelles. Thanks to another DC-8-62 and four new DC-9-32s, the tonne-kilometers on offer rose to over 1 billion for the first time. The prime costs could be improved again, namely to CHF 0.80 per offered tonne-kilometer. The usable threshold was now 49.3% occupancy. Due to the tariff collapse, Swissair had to accept another loss in North Atlantic traffic after many years. Despite the lower success in flight operations, thanks to fringe benefits, the operating surplus of the previous year was almost repeated at CHF 189.3 million. The net profit amounted to CHF 34.3 million with a constant dividend of CHF 30.- per share. New destinations in the route network were Douala and Kinshasa . In Europe there was a new flight to Oslo . The Bern-Paris line had to be discontinued due to insufficient utilization. In order to facilitate the capital requirement for the purchase of the wide-body aircraft, aircraft (3 DC-9) were sold for the first time and leased back for a longer period. To enable the maintenance of the B-747 and DC-10 aircraft, the construction of a third shipyard began. For the training of the crews of the B-747, Swissair used a joint flight simulator in Amsterdam with SAS and KLM. The number of foreign representations has meanwhile increased to 116, many of them outside the actual route network such as Fukuoka , Kansas City , Kuala Lumpur , Ljubljana , Malmö , Oporto , Tulsa and Winnipeg . Swissair ran the Swiss restaurant at the Expo in Osaka . New uniforms in bold colors were designed for the female staff. The number of employees rose to 13,280.

Key figure in CHF million 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970
Income 377 462 509 566 633 700 771 882 1,067 1,227
Operating surplus 25th 60 72 90 122 134 120 137 193 189
net profit 0.1 7.6 9.6 14.9 18.6 22.7 24.5 27.1 31.5 34.3
Workforce 7,458 8,039 8,471 8,682 8,922 9,408 10,356 11,185 12,071 13'280

Entry into the age of the wide-body aircraft

B-747-257B, HB-IGB “Zurich” here as an exception in Basel
B-747-257B, HB-IGB “Zurich” in flight
DC-10-30, HB-IHD in Hong Kong
DC-10-30, HB-IHI in Geneva

In 1971 Armin Baltensweiler took over the post of president of the management from the resigning Walter Berchtold , who led the company for 22 years. On February 27, 1971, the first Boeing 747-257B “Jumbo” landed in Kloten after a Swiss aircraft had flown over the North Pole for the first time . The first McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30 machines followed as early as the next year and shaped the image of Swissair's long-haul fleet until the 1990s. The specifications of both models were again developed in close cooperation with the SAS. The 1971 reporting year was marked by the appreciation of the Swiss franc on May 9, which resulted in global price increases. By the end of the year, there was a loss of income of CHF 42 million because the tariffs in international air traffic were based on the American dollar and the British pound. It was only thanks to strict cost-saving measures that a good result was achieved: The operating surplus of CHF 194.1 million was slightly higher than the previous year, as was the net profit of CHF 40.1 million. The utilization of the Jumbos , which are exclusively on the Zurich– and Geneva – New York were used, was already above the usable threshold in the first summer season. The utilization of the Jumbos was 13.3 hours per day, well above the average achieved by other companies with the same type of aircraft. The switch to larger aircraft led to a 27% jump in production in the North Atlantic. The African routes with a total of 16 destinations are now among the most successful in the entire route network. In addition to North Africa, destinations such as Abidjan, Accra, Dakar, Dar es Salaam, Douala, Johannesburg, Kinshasa, Khartoum, Lagos, Libreville, Monrovia and Nairobi were served. Innovations in the route network were Boston , Libreville , Nicosia and Genoa . For traffic law reasons, the approach to Lisbon in the North Atlantic traffic had to be avoided. In contrast, the heavily deficit inland traffic from Bern was discontinued from November 1st. A shuttle bus service was offered as a replacement. The introduction of the wide-body aircraft had a positive effect on the prime costs, which in turn could be reduced, now to CHF 0.79 per tonne-kilometer offered. The engines of the Austrian Airlines DC-9 fleet were looked after by Swissair, which helped with the selection and training of the DC-9 pilots. With the Departure Control System (DCS) , Swissair developed a check-in system that had full access to the reservation information in PARS . In December, the Swiss government commissioned Swissair to carry out the diplomatic exchange between India and Pakistan , which did much to strengthen the company's reputation abroad. In 1971, Swissair founded the independent stock corporation Interconvention, Congress and Convention Services , in order to act as general contractor for the acquisition and administrative implementation of international congresses in Switzerland. In addition, Swissair took part in the share capital of the travel agency Kuoni . New external agencies were opened in Libreville , Nicosia , Bangalore , Bergen , Bilbao , Marseille , Nantes and Toulouse . The previously separate staff associations of the stewards and hostesses merged to form KAPERS , the association of cabin staff at Swissair . The workforce rose to 13,342.

On November 1, 1972, a night flight ban was introduced in Switzerland , which led to the discontinuation of cheap night flights. Due to the worldwide introduction of wide-body aircraft, a large part of the IATA tariff structure was shaken. Due to the price war on the North Atlantic scheduled service, a flight operation had to be made. On short trips, accompanying spouses of business customers were granted a 50% discount. In addition, new excursion tariffs were offered in Europe, which were only valid on weekends. The prime costs could again be reduced, from CHF 0.79 to CHF 0.77 per tonne-kilometer offered. On December 9, 1972, the first DC-10 unit arrived in Zurich. Swissair took over the overhaul of all DC-10 cells from the KSSU group (KLM, SAS, Swissair and UTA). This international cooperation was considered exemplary in the air transport sector. On the occasion of the BALAIR capital increase, Swissair took over the majority of the shares and made it possible to procure a 250-seat DC-8-63. New were liability - and comprehensive insurance risk of the fleets of KLM, SAS and Swissair by a common insurance policy covered. The air traffic control charges for overflights introduced by many countries increased costs . New sales organizations were opened in Jakarta , Dortmund , Bremen , Naples , Port Harcourt , Kuwait and Yaoundé . The number of foreign representations rose to 121. In Buenos Aires, the company moved into a 14-storey building together with the Swiss embassy (Edificio Swissair). In addition to the Basel airport restaurant, the Swissair restaurant chain (Reveca AG) also ran the Swissair restaurant in Buenos Aires, which opened in autumn 1972; others in Madrid and Mulhouse were being set up. In addition, the management of the planned motorway restaurant Coldrerio in Ticino was transferred. The 1972 reporting year closed with an operating surplus of CHF 206 million and a net profit of CHF 41 million. The self-financing ratio of CHF 249 million reached a new high. The number of employees rose to 13,707 at the end of 1972, of which only 15% were flight personnel. The remainder consisted of 32% ground personnel, operations, 22% technology, 18% sales and 13% staff and finance.

In 1973 the company had to struggle with severe turbulence: the currency crisis , tariff chaos , air traffic controller strikes in Germany and France, the October war and the oil crisis were overcome unscathed. Due to the shortage of fuel supply, the frequencies in the North Atlantic had to be cut from 25 scheduled courses to 14 at the end of the year. A large number in Europe had to be canceled. The operating surplus , now communicated as gross profit , was CHF 182 million below the previous year, but the net profit of CHF 40 million was the same. Although no new destinations were flown to, the introduction of further DC-10 machines increased the traffic offer by 11%. As a result, the prime costs decreased from CHF 0.77 to CHF 0.75. However, this improvement could not compensate for the decline in the level of earnings, which was made clear by the increase in the break-even load factor from 47.7% to 51.5%. As the successor to the Coronado , which was most recently used in European traffic , ten DC-9-50s were ordered, a version of the DC-9-32 extended by 27 seats. Until they are delivered, the SAS DC-9-40 should be rented. The number of employees rose to 14,131. Japanese air hostesses were hired for the first time. The number of members of the executive board has been reduced from eight to seven, but the top management has been broadened by the appointment of 14 department directors. The presence abroad was strengthened with a total of 123 external and 68 smaller sales agencies. The regional representative in Buenos Aires was kidnapped by a revolutionary group. After 38 days of kidnapping , he was released after paying a ransom of CHF 12.4 million. Austrian Airlines' passenger reservation was connected to the PARS system. In order to enable the creation of an integrated "traffic system", a new duplex system of the type IBM 370-168 was ordered. In the future, passenger handling and charge calculation should be linked to the reservation, tariffs calculated automatically and flight tickets produced. Avireal AG was founded as a planning office and real estate company and tasked with managing all Swissair real estate. Another Swissair restaurant was opened with the “Relais Swissair La Tour” in Mulhouse. In addition, a training center was opened in Rossbüchel ( Eggersriet SG).

The difficult framework conditions remained in 1974. In addition, there was a noticeable weakening in demand for transport services, in particular a decline in holiday travel to Switzerland. This was due on the one hand to the economic recession in the most important markets such as the USA, Great Britain, France, Italy and Japan, and on the other hand to an unfavorable development of the exchange rate. In addition to a general shortage, the oil crisis also caused a sharp rise in fuel prices: Since the average kerosene price rose from 13.6 to 31.7 cents per liter, the proportion of fuel costs rose from 8% to 18%. As a result, for the first time in years, the production costs rose from CHF 0.75 to CHF 0.86. The only new destination in the route network was Marseille , but because of the Cyprus conflict, the operation of this island had to be stopped. With the arrival of the fifth DC-10, this type was also used in South America, Africa and the Far East. The Coronados were taken out of service at the end of the year. In order to close the gap until the ordered DC-9-51s arrived, four DC-9-41s were rented by the SAS. The gross profit of CHF 220 million and the net profit of CHF 42.9 million were impressive despite adverse circumstances. The income was divided into 83% from passage, 14% freight and 3% mail. On the North Atlantic traffic, which has been operating with ever greater losses since 1970, a trend reversal was recorded for the first time, but still remained loss-making due to the low tariff level. The flight tests of the cockpit crews were now without exception carried out on the ground in simulators, where a realistic image of a runway system at night was created with the introduction of visulators. An industrial wastewater treatment plant was introduced in the technology, with which 80% of the wastewater could be reused. Another Swissair restaurant was inaugurated in Madrid. Swissco was founded in Ireland to produce ready meals for transport companies. The number of employees at the end of the year rose to 14,275. The age limit of 36 years for stewards and air hostesses has been lifted (now 57 years).

The 1975 operating year was marked by sensitive currency losses, which additionally depreciated the income from stagnating worldwide traffic. As a result, more stringent cost-cutting measures were taken, and new hires were completely dispensed with. This reduced the prime costs from CHF 0.86 to CHF 0.83, but the occupancy rate fell from 53.5% to 51.9%. For the first time since 1961, the threshold was higher, which is why flight operations made a loss. The gross profit of CHF 195.3 million and a net profit of CHF 25.3 million were below the previous years, whereby a currency-related influence of CHF 85 million had to be absorbed. New destinations were Toronto , Dhahran , Abu Dhabi and Salzburg . In addition, Swissair was the second airline in the world to add the People's Republic of China to its route network and was also the first airline to fly to two Chinese destinations: Beijing and Shanghai . Three more long-haul aircraft of the type DC-10 joined the fleet together with the DC-9-51, for which Swissair was again the first customer. Due to the acquisitions, US dollar loans for aircraft purchases rose from CHF 213 million to CHF 342 million. On November 11, 1975, the new Terminal B at Zurich-Kloten Airport was opened, where Swissair again ran a duty-free shop. For the first time since the end of the Second World War , the workforce decreased compared to the previous year (13,766 employees).

The year 1976 brought the long-awaited upswing: traffic rose by 12% and was thus above the average for world air traffic. The occupancy rate rose from 51.9% to 54.3%. Nonetheless, the cost-cutting measures were continued and the workforce was down on the previous year (13,739) despite the increase in production. The prime costs could be reduced from CHF 0.83 to 0.81. Although important European currencies lost value again, an excellent result was achieved: The gross profit of CHF 257 million and the net profit of CHF 44 million were well above the previous years. This even allowed the early repayment of US dollar debt in the amount of CHF 74 million. This improved the equity to long-term debt ratio to 1: 1.4. At CHF 337 million, income from ancillary services already reached 15% of total income, with the technical services in the context of the KSSU cooperation massively increasing sales. The route network was slightly expanded with Oran , Dubai and Kuwait ; but the service in Beirut had to be stopped because of the civil war in Lebanon . The company had its own offices in 166 cities and branches in 39 others, including new ones in Luanda , Jeddah , Omaha , Mendoza and Ravensburg . The CARIDO freight reservation system was introduced in freight and the computer-controlled maintenance monitoring system MCS (Maintenance Control System) in technology. In addition, an automatic APAS passage accounting system and Fare Quote Ticketing , the automatic printing of flight tickets combined with automatic tariff determination, were developed. As a novelty, long-haul passengers were given a colored log book “Memories of a Swissair flight”. The Swissair Madrid restaurant was closed at the end of January 1977 due to poor business conditions and then served as the school canteen for the Swiss school in Madrid. Former President Walter Berchtold resigned from the Board of Directors because he had reached the age limit.

In 1977 Swissair was the first customer of the DC-9-81 (DC-9 Super 80, later MD-80 ). The then president of the board, Armin Baltensweiler, made a special trip to the board meeting in St. Louis to convince the management of a modernized, stretched and quieter version of the DC-9-51. 15 units were ordered. Baltensweiler has since been known as the "father of the MD-80". The 1977 financial year was characterized by a strong increase in transport demand: total income rose by 12% to CHF 2.4 billion with a gross profit of CHF 308 million and a net profit of CHF 52 million with an occupancy rate of 56% and seat occupancy of 60.7%; the highest values ​​since the post-war period. The available own funds rose to CHF 939 million. Nevertheless, Swissair was also affected by the continuing disintegration of the IATA's multilateral tariff system, which triggered an increasing chaos of offers and tariffs. A new feature was the Swiss Parcel Express parcel service that delivered parcels posted in Europe to the recipient in the USA within 30 hours. With the HORIS hotel reservation and information system, it was now possible to book flights and hotel rooms at the same time. The route network was moderately expanded with Linz , Sofia and Ankara , also because individual European partner companies refused to expand production. Beirut was served again after the termination. Swissair was represented in 170 cities worldwide, including Damascus , Padua , Rosario and Riyadh . The subsidiary Avireal took over UTO Treuhand- und Verwaltungs AG. The weekly working time of the ground crew has been reduced from 44 to 43 hours. The workforce increased to 14,129.

Deregulation of air traffic

In 1978, the currency problems of previous years worsened: the depreciation of foreign currencies against the Swiss franc had a negative effect on income from air traffic, which resulted in price discounts and currency losses of CHF 380 million. Despite a record high occupancy rate of 58.1% (seat occupancy 62.5%), earnings, gross profit and net profit decreased compared to the previous year. The Airline Deregulation Act triggered a price war in the North Atlantic (+ 12% passengers but -11% income). In contrast to the competition, Swissair decided not to condense the seating in Economy Class: the DC-10 planes continued to fly with 8 instead of 9 and the B-747 with 9 instead of 10 seats per row. Thanks to consistent efforts to save, the prime costs could be reduced to the value of 1973. In addition, the ratio of equity to long-term debt was improved: one franc of equity was offset by CHF 1.15 in debt. Innovations in the route network were Oporto , Dschedda and Annaba . New agencies were opened in Essen , Ravensburg , Dschedda , Annaba and Enugu . After the failure of SATA, Société Anonyme de Transport Aérien , a second charter subsidiary was founded at the express request of the authorities of the canton and city of Geneva: the Compagnie de Transport Aérien , better known as CTA . It later merged with the other charter subsidiary Balair to form Balaircta. The Swissair Hotel-Beteiligungen took over the International Hotel-Management Prohotel, Kloten and acquired 50% of the Vienna Airport restaurant and hotel operating company. Reveca AG participated in a catering operation in Buenos Aires, a joint venture with Aerolíneas Argentinas . The number of employees rose to 14,777. The proportion of foreign pilots was 25%. The traditional profession of navigator disappeared completely due to the advancing automation of route navigation by on-board computers. In 1978, Swissair was named Airline of the Year by the respected specialist magazine Air Transport World , ATW , a prize that had previously only been awarded to American companies such as Pan Am , apart from Air France and British Airways .

1979 was overshadowed by two events: Due to a worldwide flight ban for the type DC-10 ordered by the American aviation authority, a large part of the long-haul fleet was on the ground for 12 days, and on October 7, a DC-8 landed in Athens over the runway and caught fire, killing 14 passengers. The 1979 operating year was also characterized by the enormous increase in fuel prices: At the end of the year, kerosene prices were twice as high as a year earlier, which resulted in an increase in the production costs per tonne-kilometer offered from CHF 0.75 to 0.83. The share of fuel costs rose from 12 to 16% of the total costs. The traffic figures could be increased again: The occupancy rate rose to 59%; the seat occupancy rate to 63.5%. Swissair was the first to order the Airbus A310-200, which was designed with a two-man cockpit, for short and medium-haul routes with more heavy traffic and took up options for 10 additional units. Another Boeing 747 was ordered and an option for a fourth machine was secured. Dublin was the only new destination added to the route network, but due to the political turmoil in Lebanon, services in Beirut had to be suspended from mid-July. Swissair Hotel-Beteiligungen AG was renamed Swissair Touristik Beteiligungen AG. At the end of 1979 the number of employees reached 15,009.

In a year that was described by experts as the worst in the history of civil aviation to date, Swissair was able to present a remarkable result in contrast to the competition. Despite adverse circumstances, which were characterized by a further explosion in fuel prices, a gross profit of CHF 202 million was achieved for 1980. Nevertheless, the flight operations account showed a loss for the first time since 1975. The share of fuel costs in total costs increased to 22%. Tariff increases were the result. On the other hand, special tariffs reduced by 50% were introduced, which were tailored to the needs of holiday and visiting travelers. In contrast to the competition, the proven cabin division into first and economy class was retained. The short-haul fleet was renewed with the introduction of the MD-81 (DC-9-81). This type of aircraft became the backbone of the short- and medium-haul fleet and partially replaced the older and smaller DC-9. In addition, with the aim of purchasing modern, fuel-efficient aircraft, 5 new Boeing 747s with an extended upper deck and two DC-10-30s with a greater range were ordered. In order to finance it, bonds with a variable interest rate of CHF 120 million and a 25-year term were issued (due in 2005). With the connection of Zurich Airport to the national railway network, the bus shuttle services from Zurich were discontinued. To this end, the “Fly luggage” option was introduced in cooperation with SBB : From now on, flight passengers could check in their luggage at the train station . The route network was expanded to include Jakarta's service, but flights to Tehran and Baghdad had to be suspended after the outbreak of war in Iran / Iraq, where alternative overland connections were offered from Ankara and Amman. At the end of 1980, Swissair was represented in 196 cities. New agencies or sales outlets were opened in Luxembourg , Ulm , Ottawa , Raleigh , Westchester , Valparaíso , Jubail , Sanaa and Salisbury / Harare . A diversification strategy was pursued with the establishment of a new upper-class hotel chain: the hotels Président in Geneva, International in Zurich, Drake in New York and Bellevue Palace in Bern were initially combined under the name Swissôtel . A partnership was established with Nestlé AG under the name Swissair Nestlé Hotel AG to manage these hotels . Reveca AG was merged with Prohotel AG where the services for the affiliated hotels, restaurants and catering businesses were combined.

Swissair logo from 1981
DC-9-81 / MD-81 HB-INA with a new look
DC-9-51, HB-ISW with a new corporate identity
DC-9-32, HB-IFU: Even the outgoing 32 DC-9s were partially repainted
DC-8-62, HB-IDL in new livery
Boeing 747-257B HB-IGB in a new look
McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30, HB-IHA in a new coat of paint
McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30ER, HB-IHO
Airbus A-310-221, HB-IPA
Boeing 747-357B, HB-IGD
Airbus A310-322 Intercontinental, HB-IPG
Fokker 100, HB-IVC

For the 50th anniversary, Swissair renewed its corporate identity : In addition to a new signet with the Swiss cross in rhomboid shape, the aircraft were given modern paintwork. The suggestions submitted by the advertising agency commissioned ranged from pink to black - but the board of directors decided to stick with the white roof and metal belly, only the dividing line should take on the brown colors of Armin Baltensweiler's Lancia after a spontaneous proposal by a board of directors . The graphic elements of the previous appearance - name and arrow - were a quarter of a century old and were replaced by the tapered lettering and rhomboid, which should symbolize the national emblem on the side steering wheel. The name "Swissair" was written in lower case. With this redesign, Swissair succeeded in making a transition to modern graphic forms of expression, which nevertheless stayed away from short-lived fashion trends.

Key figure in CHF million 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980
Income 1,402 1,493 1'609 1,950 2,004 2,184 2,436 2,299 2,490 2,900
Gross profit 194 206 182 220 195 257 308 244 229 202
Net result 40 41 40 43 25th 44 52 49 50 44
Workforce 13,192 13'224 13,612 14'046 13,766 13,739 14,129 14,777 15,009 15,356

In 1981 total revenues exceeded the CHF 3 billion mark for the first time. The annual result was again characterized by exchange rate fluctuations, particularly of the US dollar, which was valued 18% higher than the previous year, which resulted in a currency-related decrease in earnings of CHF 40 million. The share of fuel in total costs has increased from 12% in 1978 to 23%. Although the occupancy rate could again be increased (60%), the usable threshold could not be completely exceeded (60.6%). In an industry that was increasingly characterized by losses and over-indebtedness worldwide, Swissair was able to keep itself harmless thanks to tariff increases and savings measures. The open sky policy, which aimed to dissolve the multilateral tariff system in international scheduled traffic, caused an oversupply of flight connections and a jumble of tariffs and ultimately losses of unprecedented amounts in the North Atlantic. Swissair tried to stimulate demand in the low season by introducing special tariffs such as PEX and APEX (Purchased Excursion and Advanced PEX). In contrast to the competition, Swissair continued to rely on the tried and tested two-class system on its aircraft, in the conviction that the service quality in economy is on a par with that in the newly created business class. In 1981 investments in fixed assets amounted to a record high of CHF 557 million, which were used in particular for the purchase of 11 DC-9-81s and a simulator, with CHF 401 million being financed through self-generated funds (internal financing). At the end of 1981, the route network comprised 94 cities in 65 countries, from A for Abidjan to Z for Zagreb. There were agencies in 196 cities, including Amman , Brescia and Valencia . The integrated information control system COSMOS (Computer Supported Management of Flight Operation System) was introduced for planning and operational monitoring of the aircraft and crews. As the number of subsidiaries and holdings increased, all those not directly associated with the aviation sector were combined in a newly founded Swissair Beteiligungen AG , which already generated over CHF 300 million, although these have not yet been consolidated. The Swissair restaurant in Buenos Aires had to be liquidated as a result of the difficult economic conditions in Argentina, so the new restaurant “Le Château” was opened in Chicago. The previous administrative president Fritz Gugelmann had to give up his post after 17 years because he had reached the age limit. His successor was Armin Baltensweiler. Robert Staubli has been appointed as the new president of the management. The 15,494 employees were paid a one-time bonus of CHF 500 (plus CHF 25 per year of service) for the anniversary year.

In another year of losses for world air traffic, Swissair was again able to keep itself harmless in 1982. Despite stagnating demand, unfavorable currency effects, the effects of a recession in the Swiss economy and the global economic crisis, thanks to the well-performing fringe benefits and book profits from aircraft sales, the gross profit of the previous year was almost repeated. However, when the load factor was lower, flight operations ended with a loss. Swissair also increasingly felt the headwind from protectionist tariff provisions, which were aimed at excluding transfer traffic, for example via Switzerland. As in the previous year, the flight operating costs per tonne-kilometer offered were over CHF 1.-, a value that in 1978 was CHF 0.75. The fleet was expanded with the delivery of two new DC-10-30ERs. Thessaloniki and Harare were added to the route network as new flight destinations . Flights to Baghdad and Beirut were also resumed. Despite appeals Swissair was forced to her surgery in Paris from Orly Airport to Charles de Gaulle airport to lay. The executive flights offered by the subsidiary CTA with a Super Caravelle with only first-class seating enjoyed great demand. In view of the upcoming aircraft deliveries, bond issues in the amount of CHF 240 million were issued. As a result, bonds and private placements rose to CHF 944 million and the ratio of equity to long-term debt from 1: 1.2 to 1: 1.7. The annual sales of all subsidiaries already amounted to CHF 320 million, but their results have not yet been consolidated. A commercial cooperation was agreed with the up-and-coming Swiss regional airline Crossair , in which Swissair left certain routes to Crossair. As part of the improvements in comfort and service, alcoholic beverages were now also dispensed free of charge in economy class. In addition, the delivery of lunch boxes has been replaced by a plateau service. The first class was equipped with reclining seats, so-called slumberettes , across the entire fleet . Economy customers can now also choose a seat when purchasing a flight ticket. At the end of 1982, Swissair had sales offices in 200 cities in a total of 74 countries.

Following the example of other airlines, the Swissair board of directors decided at the end of 1983 to introduce a business class on a summer flight schedule ; this was the farewell to flight operations with only two classes (first and economy class). This decision was not an easy one, because the previous concept proved to be economical over the years and met the requirements for quality and reliability. The intensified battle for the shrinking proportion of “full-paying guests” has prompted the competition to introduce a new intermediate class with greater travel comfort and a service concept that took into account the newly aroused demands of business customers. Following this trend, Swissair introduced the three-class concept on both long and short-haul routes in 1984. The 1983 reporting year ended with a record result despite the global economic crisis and global overcapacity . The newly delivered B-747-357 and A-310 replaced the older and smaller B-747, DC-10, DC-9 and DC-8, so that for the first time in years the fleet shrank to 49 units. Nonetheless, the number of tonne-kilometers increased by 6% compared to the previous year. Thanks to lower fuel prices and a lower utilization threshold, the scheduled service closed almost positively. Thanks to the general increase in traffic, increased fringe services and consistently continued rationalization efforts, a gross profit of CHF 331 million was achieved. In the course of the fleet renewal, a record sum of CHF 821 million was invested in fixed assets , of which CHF 380 million came from self-financing . An 18-year lease contract was signed for the third and fourth B-747s. Because of the introduction of the larger A-310, various partner companies demanded a simultaneous frequency reduction, especially to Frankfurt and Paris or even the suspension of flights to Ankara. At the end of 1982 Swissair served exactly 100 cities in 67 countries. Riyadh and Toulouse were new to the route network, but operations in Beirut had to be discontinued again due to the war. At the end of 1983, Swissair had 16,147 employees; 19% of them were flight personnel. The proportion of women was 31%. In addition, 380 apprentices were trained. The assets of the pension funds, which were made up of four pension funds , exceeded CHF 2 billion for the first time.

After several years of recession and stagnation , a noticeable economic recovery began in 1984, which was reflected in demand and even triggered a real boom in freight and mail traffic. Flight operations returned to profitability. Sales and total assets exceeded the 4 billion mark for the first time. The share capital was increased to CHF 568 million. The board of directors decided to replace the older DC-9-32 and 51 with four additional DC-9-81 and eight Fokker 100s in order to further advance the fleet renewal. The fleet met the strict requirements for noise abatement and was exempt from the noise surcharges on the landing fees in Zurich and Geneva. As planned, the three-class concept was introduced in the summer flight schedule: Swissair was the only company in the world that implemented this in all of its aircraft and on the entire route network. In the economy, food was still served in real porcelain dishes, metal cutlery and real wine glasses. The trade journal Business Traveler awarded Swissair the title of “world's best airline”. The only new destination that was flown to in 1984 was Larnaka , but operations from Annaba and Harare were discontinued. Rio de Janeiro was now served without a stopover. Tokyo was now served with only two stopovers. The operation of the Basel-Düsseldorf and Basel-Paris routes was transferred to Crossair. The introduction of the TGV between Paris and Geneva / Lausanne resulted in a partial shift of traffic to rail. The 42-hour week has been introduced for all ground staff in Switzerland. The foreign branches were equipped with " office computers " across the board . The Swissôtel chain was expanded by a further link with the takeover of the Hotel Lafayette in Boston.

Thanks to a general economic upturn and positive inflation , foreign exchange rates and fuel costs, the flight operating result in 1985 was able to show a profit again. Together with the contribution from third-party services such as aircraft maintenance work (technology), ground organization services (ground handling) and on-board buffet services (catering), the gross profit and net profit could again be increased. The sales of the subsidiaries amounted to CHF 390 million, which corresponds to a share of only 8% of the total sales. On a consolidated accounting was therefore again dispensed. The remaining DC-9-51 machines were sold to a Scandinavian finance company and leased back until they left. One of the Boeing 747s that had been bought was also sold and leased back with a long-term lease. A total of 12 aircraft were therefore leased, which corresponded to an acquisition value of around CHF 700 million. The book value of the rest of the fleet was written down to 40% of the cost . The newly introduced Business Class enjoyed great demand, which is why the capacity of the Boeing 747 aircraft was increased. To stimulate weekend traffic, “Super-PEX” and “Super-APEX” tariffs were introduced across the entire route network. Caracas has been added to the route network as a new destination. Together with Air France, a regular schedule was introduced on the Geneva-Paris route. Because of the warlike turmoil in the Persian Gulf , Tehran had to be served indirectly: From April 1985, Swissair flew its passengers to Bandar Abbas , from where they reached Tehran on a domestic Iran Air route . After the introduction of summer time , the local arrival and departure times were left unchanged, with the times being shifted by one hour twice a year in countries without summer time. Swissair was in a positive mood for the liberalization tendencies and welcomed a moderate introduction as a counterweight to protectionism , because it also hoped for greater development opportunities in the form of more freedom in the market-driven service of the route network and moderate expansion thanks to open market access. Until now, the regulation of regular services has been based on a network of bilateral state treaties . As of 1985, Switzerland had concluded aviation agreements with 91 countries. For example, a new agreement was signed with Great Britain, which allowed considerable tariff reductions, on the other hand also granted freedom in terms of aircraft size and flight destinations. In addition, Swissair was able to improve its position under aviation law in the British crown colony of Hong Kong . Swissair Beteiligungen AG founded Iber-Swiss with the Spanish Iberia with the purpose of operating flight kitchens in Madrid, Málaga and Las Palmas. At the end of 1985, there were 17,262 employees.

Because of the terrorist attacks in Vienna and Rome as well as the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl , the attractiveness of trips to Europe decreased, especially for American tourists. The strong Swiss franc also had a significant impact on income in 1986, which had a negative impact of over CHF 100 million on the result due to unfavorable currency parities. The gross profit was therefore 11% below the previous year. The nominal share capital was increased by CHF 47 million; the number of registered shareholders increased by around 2000 to over 35,000. The ratio of equity to long-term debt improved to 1: 1.2. Swissair pursued new investments in fixed assets to cover these with 70% through self-financing . The 1986 reporting year was again characterized by progressive liberalization: After four years of negotiations, an agreement was reached with the USA on a new tariff approval procedure that gave the airlines extensive freedom in setting prices. This agreement also enabled Swissair to serve Atlanta from 1987 onwards . For the first time since its inception, the global route network increased to over 100 cities: After the introduction of the polar route , Anchorage in Alaska , Seoul , Bahrain , Birmingham , Brazzaville and Malta were served . A new schedule was introduced on the Zurich-Frankfurt route, with scheduled planes from Swissair and Lufthansa each leaving Zurich three times a day on the hour. A helicopter service was offered to the temporarily closed airfield in Stuttgart. As a future replacement of the DC-10 fleet, 6 machines of the type MD-11 were ordered. The average age of the fleet was 7.2 years, making it one of the youngest and most modern in the world, which allowed pilots to land in foggy conditions with a horizontal runway visibility of 125–150 m. By then, over 1,000 landings had already taken place under these conditions, saving 100,000 passengers from delays and activities. The fleets of the subsidiaries Balair and CTA were renewed with the delivery of an Airbus A-310 Intercontinental and a DC-9-82 as well as the order for four MD-87s. With the takeover of the majority in Sodereal Holding, six new hotels joined Swissôtel, including renowned establishments such as Lausanne Palace and Montreux Palace . As a contribution to meaningful leisure activities for the staff, support was given to the total of 53 clubs of the “staff leisure organization”, which were able to use the company's own leisure and sports facility in Bassersdorf and its new squash hall.

In 1987 Swissair was a founding member of the global reservation system Galileo together with British Airways and KLM . Since the 1960s, Swissair has been a leader in the development of computer reservation systems (CRS). PARS and CARIDO were pioneers in both passenger and freight bookings, and Traviswiss introduced a new booking system developed for the Swiss travel agency industry. With COVIA (United Airlines) an American partner could be found and with the joining of Alitalia, Austrian, British Caledonian , Aer Lingus and TAP, the experience with own systems could be bundled. Swindon was chosen as the headquarters , where 200 employees from all partners, including 30 from Swissair, worked. The fleet renewal was advanced with an expansion of the order from MD-11 to a total of 12 and the DC-9-81 to 22 units, which resulted in an investment of almost CHF 2 billion. 1987 saw the largest debt repayment ever recorded in a year, with a total amount of CHF 310 million. At the European civil aviation conference ECAC, agreements were made that gave airlines greater flexibility in traffic within Europe with regard to the number of frequencies and aircraft size and the setting of tariffs. In 1987, with the aim of improving the profitability of flight operations, a targeted streamlining of the route network was carried out: Santiago de Chile, Colombo, Bahrain and Dublin were abandoned. In contrast, Turin and Atlanta were added to the route network as new destinations ; in addition to Pan Am and TWA, American Airlines was also allowed to serve Switzerland. A test phase with ticket and check-in machines was started on the Geneva-Paris route, which allowed the passenger to obtain the ticket using a credit card and to complete the check-in formalities at the same time. For the first time, a woman joined Swissair as a member of the cockpit crew. The workforce rose to 17,908 - including all part-time and temporary employees and all affiliated companies to 23,900. In China, another Swissôtel hotel, the Crystal Palace in Tianjin, was opened and a management contract was signed for one hotel each in Beijing and Istanbul.

At the end of July 1988, President Robert Staubli resigned from office due to age; Otto Loepfe, the previous head of the technology and information processing departments, was appointed his successor. By replacing the remaining DC-9s with 8 Fokker 100s and the addition of three more MD-81s, the entire fleet was the first in the world to be fully Category III-compatible: All aircraft were equipped for automatic landings under extremely poor visibility conditions. New investments reached a new annual record in 1988 with CHF 853 million: In addition to the fleet renewal, various investment commitments made a significant contribution: An 11.3% stake was acquired in the American sales and distribution system COVIA (further development of Apollo). The close cooperation with Crossair, which has existed since 1982 through cooperation agreements, was underpinned with a 38% stake and the existing cooperation with Austrian Airlines was also consolidated with a stake of 3% in the share capital and finally the previous stake of 17% in Basler Forwarding company for international transport Jacky Maeder AG increased to 98%. Innovations in the route network were Bordeaux , Catania and Graz ; in return, the operation of Khartoum had to be given up for economic reasons. Flights to Tehran and Baghdad had to be temporarily canceled due to armed conflict. Newly granted traffic rights allowed an additional city to fly to in the USA and overflight rights over Siberia on the routes to Japan and China. In cooperation with SBB , full passenger handling for Swissair flights - including boarding cards - was introduced at eight national train stations. With the introduction of “rail luggage”, it was possible to transport luggage from foreign airports to all Swiss train stations. In 1988, 267,000 tons of air freight were transported, with the entire flow of goods being controlled and monitored using the WACOS (Warehouse Control System) data processing system. Vreni Spoerry , the National Councilor , was the first woman to be elected to the Board of Directors by the General Assembly. In view of the future requirements of further liberalization in air traffic, the organizational structure was simplified: management levels were eliminated and the control span of many superiors was expanded. The heads of department were directly subordinate to the President and formed the management team. The general management level was abolished. The foreign representations were now headed by 16 route managers who are regionally responsible, responsible for results and equipped with extensive competencies . Personal titles have been replaced by functional titles. On behalf of the National Geographic Society, Swissair Photo und Vermessungen AG created the very first Mount Everest map thanks to images taken from 13,500 meters above sea level.

"Flying Bank"

The strong growth in air traffic from the 1960s onwards enabled many airlines, as quasi-monopolists , to make high profits. During this period, Swissair in particular benefited from its excellent reputation as a quality airline and the possibility of flying to exotic and therefore lucrative destinations such as countries in Africa or the Middle East due to its Swiss neutrality . In addition, its central geographical location in the middle of Europe helped it generate transfer traffic. Many awards attested Swissair's reliability, safety and quality. Even the greatest Swissair critic, the aviation journalist Sepp Moser , wrote in a company chronicle : "Swissair was undoubtedly one of the best airlines in the world, perhaps the best ever."

With the beginning of the liberalization and deregulation of air traffic at the beginning of the 1980s in the USA and later in Europe, the cost pressure on all airlines increased. Swissair also grew competition in its home market with the founding of Crossair in 1978. Swissair subsequently invested its high liquidity reserves in acquisitions and gradually shifted a large part of its business activities to flight-related activities such as airport handling, catering, aircraft maintenance and duty Free business. The advantage of this strategy was to diversify the activities and reduce the risk of the pure aviation business; the major disadvantage was the neglect of the core business. Accordingly, at the end of the 1980s, Swissair was given the nickname “The Flying Bank”, which was primarily due to the fact that it had hidden reserves and the high level of liquidity ; Secondly, however, it is also a symptomatic term for a company that is increasingly concerned with financial management instead of aviation.

Concentration process

In view of the announced extensive liberalization of air traffic in Europe, Swissair concentrated again on the aviation business and expanded its partnerships in 1989: As the first European airline, it signed cooperation agreements with the American Delta Air Lines , the Scandinavian SAS and Singapore Airlines and formed the Allianz Global Excellence , a novelty in the history of aviation. At an extraordinary general meeting, a capital integration with Delta Air Lines was approved, with 100,000 bearer shares being assigned to the American partner following a capital increase. Thanks to the general good economic situation and a further increase in the need to travel and the positive development of exchange rates, 1989 went down as one of the most successful in the company's history. A gross profit of CHF 463 million allowed an additional special depreciation of CHF 45 million, which reduced the book value of the aircraft fleet to 30%. The total available funds increased to CHF 1.8 billion. Three magazines (Check-in, Capital and Executive Travel) named Swissair as the “best airline”. The uniformed Swissair staff was newly dressed with uniforms designed by the designer Luigi Colani . After years of tough negotiations with the American authorities, Los Angeles could finally be added to the route network. Other innovations in the route network were Gothenburg , Lyon , Izmir and Ljubljana as well as the first non-stop flight to Tokyo via the Siberia route, which reduced the flight time to less than 12 hours. After a break of two years, Santiago de Chile was served again; the connecting flights from Buenos Aires were secured with aircraft from the Chilean Ladeco . However, under pressure from Air Afrique, the service to Abidjan and Dakar had to be reduced by one frequency. The cargo flight to Glasgow was suspended for economic reasons. The air freight was then transported exclusively on passenger routes; cargo-only flights were completely dispensed with. In 1989 a total of 110 destinations in 68 countries were flown to. On long-haul flights, the Cabin Video Information System informed passengers about the course of the flight. Due to delays in the delivery of the MD-11 that had been ordered, an additional DC-10-30 was rented. In addition, the 22nd MD-81 was put into operation and another 2 MD-81s were commissioned to expand the European fleet. The subsidiary Balair ordered three Airbus A310-324s to replace the DC-10-30, which served destinations such as San Francisco , Miami , Santo Domingo , Malé and Mombasa . The other subsidiary CTA replaced their last Caravelle with MD-87 machines. Around 40% of the total CTA capacity was used for scheduled flights on behalf of Swissair. For the first time, the position of a representative for equality issues was created with the primary task of creating and realizing the conditions for equal cooperation between women and men at all levels. The ground manager function has been introduced at Zurich Airport and given extensive powers to ensure that the entire service is processed quickly and easily. Together with Lufthansa and Guinness Peat Aviation (GPA), a maintenance and overhaul facility was set up in Shannon and Shannon Aerospace Ltd. founded as a join venture. With Skyracer , a new, global express service for urgent documents and small items up to 100 kg was offered. This "door-to-door" service was offered on the entire Swissair and Crossair route network. With the establishment of SCI, International Ship Catering AG , Swissair offered management services in the field of ship catering and signed the first contracts with the Olau-Linie (ferry between England and the Netherlands). In Sergy near Geneva, a leisure facility has been opened for staff from western Switzerland.

In 1990 the European Quality Alliance was founded together with SAS, Austrian Airlines and Finnair . The Qualiflyer Group was later formed from this . In the course of this cooperation, the share in the share capital of Austrian Airlines was increased to 10%. In 1990, many airlines suffered major losses due to the weak global economy, the Gulf crisis , rising fuel prices, massive increases in insurance premiums and overcapacities. The price war and predatory competition between the airlines that began as a result of liberalization made the situation even worse. Swissair's flight operations suffered an operational loss of almost CHF 100 million, which could only be offset thanks to the contribution to earnings from third-party services and the anticipation of book profits , in particular from the sale of DC-10 aircraft. After 1951 and 1961, no dividend was paid out for the third time in the company's history . A results improvement program called MOVE has started. The charter subsidiary Balair was also hit hard by the Gulf crisis, as all travel agency flight chains to Egypt, Israel, Oman and the United Arab Emirates had to be canceled. With regard to the delivery of the A310 that had been ordered, Balair gave itself a new look: The colors yellow / blue / red on white were supposed to symbolize sun and warmth, sea and Swiss quality. In turn, Swissair has been named the best airline in Europe by several specialist magazines ( Zakenreis magazine ), for short and medium-haul flights ( Executive Travel ) or worldwide ( Check-in ). With a view to renewing the European fleet, 19 Airbus A321s and 7 A320s were ordered to replace the MD-81. In addition, two more Fokker 100s were commissioned, which required a total investment of CHF 2.3 billion. New features in the route network were the addition of flights to Bilbao , Philadelphia and Valencia . Beirut, Damascus , Graz, Linz and Oslo were served by partner companies as part of joint ventures . In addition, Swissair was allowed to fly to Berlin again after a 47-year interruption . Thanks to the coordination of the flight plans with Delta Air Lines, optimal connections with over 100 destinations in North America resulted. For economic or political reasons, however, the flights to Catania, Kuwait, Amman, Baghdad and Monrovia were suspended. A milestone was the start of regular twin-engine transatlantic flights: During the winter months with less traffic, an A310 served Montreal and Toronto. Furthermore, the air freight business was operated as a purely by- product , i. H. Freight and mail were carried exclusively on passenger routes. Due to crew bottlenecks, flight attendants from the cooperation partner Delta Air Lines were deployed for months. Thanks to simulators and a computer-assisted learning system, DC-10 cockpit crews could be retrained on the MD-11 without flight training. The contractual working hours for the ground staff have been reduced to 41 hours a week. For Armin Baltensweiler , Chairman of the Board of Directors who retired in 1992 , Dr. Hannes Goetz , Delegate of the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer of Georg Fischer AG Schaffhausen. In cooperation with cantonal authorities, an eco-balance was drawn up for the first time for operations in Zurich . Another Swissôtel opened in Atlanta and a management contract was signed for the Arnoma Hotel in Bangkok. Sales negotiations with the Aoki / Westin Group failed after months of intensive negotiations. Euroactividade , which is active in golf sports tourism, ran into a liquidity crisis and was then liquidated in a debt restructuring moratorium .

Key figure in CHF million 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990
Income 3,390 3,540 3,694 4,011 4,354 4,031 4,004 4,284 4,837 5'050
Gross profit 262 258 331 359 383 341 375 418 463 339
Net result 54 39 56 61 69 65 72 76 95 4th
Workforce 15'494 15,997 16,147 16,652 17'262 17,657 17,908 18,584 19,296 19,883

From January 1, 1991, air traffic in Europe was liberalized, and an aggressive price war broke out among airlines due to the existing excess capacities. In addition, in the year of its 60th anniversary, Swissair was exposed to a persistent economic recession . Since numerous airlines stuck to their expansion plans despite the economic crisis, excess capacities increased. This led to increased tariff pressure, in some areas even to a ruinous pricing policy with absurd offers, which Swissair was only partially able to avoid for reasons of competition. Flight operations again ended with a considerable loss. The annual result, however, was positive thanks to book profits from aircraft sales. The 1991 year of operation was marked by the replacement of the DC-10 by the MD-11, which was to become the new backbone of the long-haul fleet. Five of the nine machines delivered in 1991 were taken over on a lease basis. Due to political turmoil in the Gulf region , flights to Abu Dhabi, Damascus, Dubai, Dschedda, Riyadh and Tel Aviv had to be suspended from January to March. Delhi , Kiev and St. Petersburg have been added to the route network . For economic reasons, the flights to Milan-Bergamo and because of direct flights to Thailand, China and Japan, the stopovers in Anchorage and Jakarta have been suspended. For political reasons, connections with Kinshasa, Ljubljana and Zagreb were also temporarily interrupted. Thanks to successful negotiations with Russia and Japan, all flights to / from Tokyo could now be offered non-stop via Siberia. The Chinese authorities also granted permission to operate the flights to / from Beijing without a stopover. Many flights were delayed due to capacity bottlenecks at the airports and inadequate international airspace coordination. In 1991 alone, this resulted in a drop in earnings of around CHF 60 million. The majority of votes in the regional airline Crossair was acquired through the purchase of a further block of shares. In addition, the cooperation with Singapore Airlines was reinforced with a capital investment. Finnair decided not to participate in the European Quality Alliance. In return, the Global Excellence partner Delta entrusted Swissair with the maintenance of its A310 fleet, which was the largest third-party contract that Swissair technology has been able to win to date. As the first airline in the world, Swissair has analyzed the impact of its activities on the environment and has taken on an ecological pioneering role. According to a study by the International Travel Research Institute in Hong Kong, Swissair was named the most popular airline . The Swissôtel Group opened six additional operations in Atlanta, Bangkok, Beijing, Istanbul, Cairo and Toronto, doubling the number of rooms. The Chairman of the Board of Directors and former President of the Management Board Armin Baltensweiler resigned due to age and handed over the management to Dr. Hannes Goetz. In him, Swissair was head of one of the most outstanding personalities in world aviation, who has shaped the company in its development. For the first time since 1976, the workforce decreased again. The contracts with the cabin crew association Kapers and those with the ground associations SKV and VPOD were terminated in order to be able to achieve greater flexibility in the collective labor agreements .

MD-11 HB-IWC at Zurich Airport
MD-11 HB-IWH taking off in Zurich

In the 1992 referendum, Switzerland refused to join the European Economic Area (EEA) . As a result, Swissair suffered disadvantages compared to competitors from EEA countries, since no direct connections between EEA countries were offered and no passengers were allowed to take on stopovers in the EEA area. The 1992 reporting year was one of the most difficult and loss-making for the global aviation industry since its inception: After the slump in demand caused by the Gulf War, the persistent, and in some areas even deepened economic recession exacerbated the structural problems of world aviation. The oversupply triggered an inexorable cutthroat competition with geographically and price escalating combat measures, which were still pushed by the competing societies under creditor protection or state-favored. This led to a general erosion of earnings and falling average yields. Flight operations closed again with a large loss. A positive overall result could only be achieved thanks to successful third-party services as well as book profits from aircraft sales and the sale of the Kuoni investment. For the first time since the Second World War, 400 jobs were cut and 160 layoffs pronounced for reasons of economy. With the arrival of the 12th MD-11, the replacement of the DC-10 fleet was completed. New in the route network were Banjul , Minsk , Vilnius , Washington and Yaoundé . After a break of several months, Kinshasa, Ljubljana and Zagreb were also served again. Due to political sanctions, connections with Belgrade and Tripoli were cut. For economic reasons, however, the service Caracas was discontinued. As part of a business area delimitation, Crossair was assigned all connections with Basel. Crossair, which operated around 30% of its flights on behalf of Swissair, flew to London City Airport for the first time . The cooperation among the cooperation partners of the EQA was intensified by introducing the governor concept for Austria and Switzerland: From now on all sales and handling activities were carried out by the national company. In April 1992, a separate bonus program for frequent flyers was launched under the name Qualiflyer : In addition to Austrian, Crossair and Swissôtel, Delta Air Lines and Singapore Airlines as well as the car rental companies Avis and Hertz and the hotel chains Hilton , Intercontinental and SAS Hotels were won. Terminal A at Zurich Airport was converted into a Swissair terminal, where all flights from Swissair, Crossair and EQA partners Austrian and SAS were handled. After the acquisition of the Danish catering group Aero-Chef , all catering operations were combined in the expanded Catering segment . Swissair Technik received further major orders with the overhaul of the DC-10 fleet of Malaysia Airlines and the MD-11 fleet of LTU . After a two-year construction period, Shannon Aerospace's facilities were opened and production started. An independent freight department was created to handle this market segment as an independent business area. On the other hand, Skyracer was discontinued, with important customer elements such as the express customs channel and air express services being integrated. Switzerland was the first country in the world to have a state-recognized professional title for cabin crew in that the profession of flight attendant was recognized by the Federal Office for Industry, Commerce and Labor ( BIGA ).

Like other national airlines in the smaller countries, Swissair came under increasing pressure: More and more national airlines formed alliances in order to serve their customers worldwide. A critical size was necessary here in order to be of interest to the American partners; H. to provide sufficient passenger volume. Accordingly, a merger of Swissair, KLM, SAS (30% each) and Austrian Airlines (10%) under the project name Alcázar (after the Spanish name for castle ) was sought. This project failed, among other things, because of national resistance in the various countries. In Switzerland, for example, it was criticized that Swissair had a significantly higher value than the other partners due to its high fixed assets. There were also fundamental differences of opinion in the choice of the American partner (Delta or Northwest). The corporate substance of the Swissair Group has been repeatedly confirmed by extensive studies and counter-reports by neutral, internationally leading expert groups. The operating year 1993 was again characterized by an acceleration in the price collapse caused by insufficient capacity utilization worldwide. The situation was further exacerbated because various states gave their national airlines massive support with capital injections, subsidies and debt relief . In addition, despite progressive liberalization, the fight against state protectionism had to continue. The negative effects and the hindrances caused by the lack of political integration in Europe after the EEA vote increased. For example, flexible adjustment of tariffs to rapidly changing market conditions was made difficult. For the third year in a row, a small profit could only be made thanks to third-party services and book profits from aircraft sales. A further downsizing of 1,000 jobs had to be resolved, most of which could be cushioned by not filling vacancies, but nevertheless made 227 layoffs and 141 early retirements inevitable. With a view to the renewal of the European fleet, which began in 1995, and in order to minimize sales risks, 10 MD-81s were sold early and leased back until they were replaced. As a result, book profits amounting to CHF 136 million could be liquidated. Liquidity was still very high at CHF 2 billion. Of the total inventory of 108 aircraft, 26 were now rented: 3 B747, 5 MD11, 11 MD81 from Swissair, 1 MD83 and 1 A310 from Balair / CTA and 4 Saab 340 and 1 BAe 146 from Crossair. New in the route network were Harare , Cape Town , Klagenfurt , Luxembourg , Muscat and Strasbourg . In addition, joint courses were offered by partner companies in Bordeaux , Cincinnati and Graz . On the other hand, serving Damascus, Cologne and Vilnius was given up. First class was abolished in the short-haul area. To this end, a new business class with wider seats and a more individual service process was introduced, which set new standards compared to the competition. First Class passengers on the B-747 and MD-11 aircraft enjoyed individual screens and a selection of 30 video films. For the first time, a SATCOM system was installed on Swissair aircraft, which allowed passengers to make calls worldwide. Once again, Swissair was named the best airline (Travel Inside), best short-haul airline (Executive Traveler) or Airline of the Year (Holiday) by trade magazines . As part of the Global Excellence cooperation, the ground services of Swissair, Singapore and Delta were merged at New York Airport in the Delta Flight Center and community courses ( code sharing ) were introduced with Delta. The time-saving Check-in direct was offered at Zurich Airport , which allowed passengers who only travel with hand luggage to check in for their flight themselves. With retroactive effect from January 1, 1993, the charter companies Balair and CTA were merged to form Balair / CTA based in Meyrin . The frequent flyer program Qualiflyer already had over 300,000 members after one year and was able to find new partners in Cathay Pacific , Malaysia Airlines , Ansett Australia and Balair / CTA. All catering operations and holdings have now been combined in the Gate Gourmet Holding . In addition, Nuance Trading AG (tax free shops and on-board sales) and Restorama AG (staff restaurants) were made legally independent and converted into profit centers.

Conversion to a group

Due to the failure of the Alcázar project, Swissair examined other strategic options from January 1994. Swissair, with its small home market, difficult market access within Europe and the limited expansion options at Swiss airports, was forced to act. As a non-EU company, Swissair was occasionally forced to reduce the number of flights offered, and at various European airports it had to accept discriminatory measures such as higher landing fees or passenger taxes.

The following strategic options with the related effects were described as basically feasible:

  • Going it alone - this would have resulted in Swissair being downsized due to the small domestic market
  • the merger with a large European aviation company - that could have led to partial or, in the long term, complete abandonment of independence
  • the establishment of an own, larger aviation system - would have required very high financial and human resources

The board of directors chose the third option. Not only economic reasons played a role, but the political mood in Switzerland would hardly have allowed a downsizing of Swissair or its merging into one of the major European airlines.

Fokker 100 HB-IVH in a new look
Airbus 310-322 HB-IPI
B-747-357 HB-IGD
A321-111 HB-IOA
A320-214 HB-IJA
MD-11 HB-IWG with Swissair Asia paint
A319-112 HB-IPV: The world's first A319 in service

At the beginning of 1994, departments such as ground services, IT, freight and technology became profit and service centers and thus largely independent business units of the group. With the founding of RailGourmet and the acquisition of the SAS Service Partner (SSP) catering group , the catering area was expanded to become the second global core business. The Gate Gourmet with 77 production companies advanced to become the third largest catering group in the world. Thanks to the economic recovery in important markets and a more optimistic consumer stance, there was a gratifying increase in demand in global air traffic, which led to record occupancy rates. Income from freight (+ 11%) and mail (+ 7%) increased significantly and accounted for 16% of total flight operations income. However, this was wiped out again by the ongoing tariff erosion and negative currency effects amounting to CHF 230 million: Despite an increase in demand, operating income fell by CHF 304 million. However, the company was able to maintain its strong substance and the available liquid funds reached a new high. In the future, the Balair / CTA charter business should be fully integrated into Swissair (long-haul) and Crossair (short-haul). In addition, the regular operations with aircraft with up to 100 seats were completely transferred to Crossair. Before that, around a third of Crossair's capacity had already been used on behalf of Swissair. Thanks to the takeover of the 13th MD-11 aircraft, new flights to Osaka were started. Beirut and Belgrade were served again after interruptions. On the other hand, flights to Algiers, Ankara, Bordeaux and Rio de Janeiro have been suspended. The MD-11 fleet was newly equipped with the SATCOM system, which allowed passengers to make calls worldwide. The appearance of Swissair was given a slight facelift by gradually repainting the fleet: The brown stripes under the windows were now removed and the company logo on the hull was enlarged. The belly of the aircraft was repainted in a subtle gray to emphasize the elegance of the white fuselage. The new color scheme should symbolize reliability, quality and subtle elegance. The Fokker 100 HB-IVH was the first aircraft to be repainted after a major overhaul in May 1994. Again, Swissair has been recognized by various trade magazines such as Executive Travel , Business Traveler , Holiday , Incentive , Condé Nast Traveler , and in the Airtrack 1994 survey it was named the best airline in Europe . The Air Transport World magazine also presented the "Award for 20 years of excellence in passenger service". The advertising campaign launched under the universal motto "Time is everything" achieved a high level of awareness. The frequent flyer program Qualiflyer already had over 500,000 members and was judged by business travelers to be the most attractive in Europe. In cooperation with Eurocard , a new credit card with a mileage bonus was offered. After the merger of Covia and Galileo , Galileo International became the largest global reservation system, with Swissair being the third largest partner behind United Airlines and British Airways with a share of 13.2%.

In 1995, no progress was foreseeable in the bilateral transport negotiations between Switzerland and the EU. The isolation of Switzerland and the associated disadvantage of Swissair and Crossair in the form of obstructed market access and discriminatory traffic fees and charges continued unabated. One way out of this dilemma promised to be close ties with an EU airline: On May 4, 1995, Swissair took over 49.5% of the share capital of the Belgian Sabena for CHF 260 million , although it was known that it was heavily indebted and in the past was chronically deficient. Since Brussels was also interested in a location in the European Union and the American partner Delta Air Lines was interested in it, the Brussels hub was expanded considerably. The longstanding cooperation with SAS , however, had to be terminated at the request of the EU authorities. At the end of October, the Balair / CTA's flight operations were suspended; their on-demand flight activities have been fully integrated into Swissair and Crossair. In addition, the operation of all scheduled services with aircraft with up to 100 seats was transferred to Crossair. Seoul and Taipei were served as new destinations in the route network, the latter through the specially created Swissair Asia in order not to endanger traffic rights to China. Singapore was first served non-stop. In addition, joint flights with Austrian and Delta Air Lines from Vienna via Geneva to Washington and Vienna-Zurich-Chicago were introduced. In Europe, Krakow was now served and joint flights were introduced with Austrian on the Zurich-Vienna route and on to Almaty . A joint purchasing company was founded with Singapore Airlines and Delta, and attractive all-around-the-world fares were introduced as part of the Global Excellence Alliance. Once again, Swissair received several awards: the world's best airline ( Holiday and Ranking ), best airline on short-haul routes ( Executive Travel ), best business airline in Europe ( Business Travel World ), best airline in Europe ( Havas Voyages and Le Figaro ), most punctual airline ( Business Traveler ) and received the Outstanding Airline Award from Inmarsat . The frequent flyer program Qualiflyer , launched in 1992 , already had 700,000 members and was considered the leading program, which opinion polls confirmed. Sabena, All Nippon Airways and Europcar Interrent have been won as new partners . As one of the first European airlines, Swissair was present on the Internet from November 1995 and repositioned itself in advertising as the "world's most refreshing airline". In 1995 the operation was dominated by the most extensive fleet renewal in the history of Swissair: New Airbus A321 and A320 replaced the MD-81 and A310-221. To replace the Fokker 100, 12 Avro RJ100s were ordered, which were intended for Crossair. The strategic goal of strengthening the global market presence of the catering sector and developing it into a profitable second pillar of the group was continued through several acquisitions in Europe, Latin America and Australia: Gate Gourmet took over operations in Lisbon, Faro, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro; Nuance Trading took over MS McLeod and City International Duty Free in Australia and Restorama took over RoRi Service GmbH in Germany. Rail Gourmet was able to win important tenders for catering in high-speed trains . The 1995 annual result was negatively impacted by provisions for resolved restructuring measures, resulting in a high, extraordinary net loss of CHF 147 million. Group-wide, the number of employees increased to 32,703, that of Swissair to 16,226.

Key figure in CHF million 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995
Income 5,312 5'455 5,363 5,099 5,304
Gross profit 415 412 372 309 307
Net result 48 21st 7th 3 4th
Workforce 19,302 19'025 16,588 16'156 16'226
Organization chart of the SAirGroup

1996 was a year of realignment and upheaval, characterized by far-reaching organizational and structural decisions: The new umbrella name SAirGroup was intended to illustrate the range of services offered by a group of companies that, in addition to flight operations itself, also carries out airline-related activities. Swissair was now just a subsidiary, but its world-famous core brand and the familiar logo were to be retained. A major innovation was the division of the company into four areas of activity: The activities of the flight business were combined in the SAirLines area, which includes the brands Swissair, Crossair and the cooperation with partner companies. Aircraft maintenance, flight handling, IT and property management have now been subsumed in the SAirServices area . SAirLogistics was now responsible for freight sales , freight handling and warehouse management. In the end, SAir Relations concentrated on gastronomy, hotel and trading. As a result of the fundamental reorganization, the corporate group received the corporate law bracket of an umbrella holding. As the successor to Otto Loepfe, who was stepping down at the end of 1996, Philippe Bruggisser was appointed President of the Management Board ahead of schedule . At the same time he was also Chief Operating Officer and Head of the SAirLines division. Georges Schorderet became the new CFO. The previous Head of Marketing Paul Reutlinger has been chosen as the new President of the Sabena management team. The board of directors included exponents of the national business elite: In addition to representatives from business such as B. Thomas Schmidheiny and politics such. B. Eric Honegger were also important representatives of the banking industry: Josef Ackermann ( Deutsche Bank ), Georges Blum ( Swiss Bank Corporation ), Claudio Generali ( Banca del Gottardo ), Bénédict Hentsch (private bank Darier, Hentsch & Cie ), Lukas Mühlemann ( Credit Suisse ) and Robert Studer ( Swiss Bank Corporation ). Due to the accelerated collapse of prices, the changed traffic composition and increased fuel prices, flight operations suffered a high loss. The antitrust immunity granted by the US authorities enabled Delta, Austrian, Sabena and Swissair to significantly expand their cooperation in market development. Thus, all connections with the USA were operated jointly, and new destinations in North America could be offered. The proceeds were divided according to an agreed formula. Various sales offices and reservation centers were merged. As part of a close cooperation with Air Canada , it became possible for the first time to serve destinations in western Canada with direct scheduled services. The purchasing company DSS World Sourcing , operated jointly by Singapore Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Swissair , was able to achieve considerable savings for all partners in its first full year of operation. China was the first western airline to grant Swissair permission to use a direct air corridor, which shortened flight times between Seoul and Zurich by around an hour. The frequent flyer program Qualiflyer , launched in 1992 , now has 900,000 members and was named the best frequent flyer program by the specialized US magazine Inside Flyer International . The announcement that Indian and Thai flight attendants would be deployed on selected Far East flights from 1997 onwards caused quite a stir in the media. The collective outcry was even greater when Swissair introduced a fourth traffic spike in Zurich and concentrated long-haul flights in Zurich - to the disadvantage of Geneva. In order to ensure its connection to the global route network, a regular schedule called PendulAir was introduced between the two cities. One third of the 62-unit Crossair fleet was used on behalf of Swissair for its flights with comparatively little traffic. From May 15, 1996, all Swissair European courses operated as non-smoking flights. Swissair also received several awards in 1996: Best Airline (German magazines Holiday and America ), Airline of the Year ( Executive Travel ) and Best Airline in Europe (Institute Total Research and business magazine Capital ). After more than 35 years of activity, the Swiss Aviation School , managed by Swissair on behalf of the Confederation, ceased operations and was re-launched as the Swissair Aviation School on a purely private basis . The newly formed SAirServices division now comprised the functions of ground services (new: Swissport ), technology (new SR Technics ), IT (new Atraxis ) and property management (new Avireal ), which were previously integrated into Swissair AG . Atraxis enabled the complete migration of the Sabena booking and handling systems and acquired a majority stake in the Danish company PlusData Gruppen , which held a leading position as a provider of IT solutions for the freight forwarding industry. The Swissair Photo + Surveys Ltd. was one under management buyout sold and changed its name again with Swissphoto surveying AG . The marketing of the freight capacity of the Swissair, Crossair and Sabena fleets has now been transferred to Swisscargo . In addition, full freighter aircraft were also leased. Cargologic concentrated on handling export, import and transfer goods at Zurich and Geneva airports and took over warehouse management and road transport for Jacky Maeder AG . The latter was run as a Logistics Invest together with Jetlogistics (integrated logistics solutions for the in-flight service and catering area of ​​airlines) . The previous Swissair Beteiligungen AG (SBAG) became SAirRelations . This included Swissôtel , which was able to achieve a positive net result for the first time in its history. Gate Gourmet secured additional market shares by acquiring production facilities in Bangkok and Recife . In addition, a franchise contract including a license surcharge for a catering business was signed at the new Hong Kong airport . Rail Gourmet took over on-board service for the Talgo 200 in Spain . In addition, a multi-year contract with the Danish State Railways was concluded with a partner . Restorama was able to continue its expansion plans with the acquisition of Stadtküche Leipzig . But also in Switzerland the business volume could be expanded thanks to several contracts with well-known clients such as ABB , McKinsey , Sulzer and the Swiss Army . With the acquisition of the tax free and retail business of the British department store group Allders , Nuance became the world's second largest provider of duty free activities. With the purchase of a majority stake in Island Companies Ltd. with headquarters in Cayman Islands , a base in the Caribbean duty-free market was also secured. Despite the increase in operating income, operating income and cash flow, extraordinary expenses such as the full write-off of the Sabena investment (CHF 267 million) and provisions for future structural adjustments (CHF 300 million) resulted in a high consolidated loss of CHF 497 million. to be expelled. The number of Group employees rose to 36,050 personnel positions, of which 17,593 were employed in Switzerland. After the Atraxis was outsourced, 14'135 people were employed at Swissair AG.

Anniversary flights with a Douglas DC-4, ZU-ILI

With the help of a variety of strategic and operational measures, but also in the background of a friendly economic environment, the SAirGroup managed to get back into the black in 1997, which allowed employees to share in the profits and to distribute a dividend. Thanks to an increase in the cash flow from operating activities to CHF 1.2 billion, an EBIT of CHF 658 million and an annual result of CHF 324 million could be reported. Group debt was reduced by 5% and the equity ratio was 19.3% ( equity of CHF 2.4 billion). The divestments included the sale of Traviswiss and Galileo International and the reduction of the stake from 13% to 7%. In addition, four hotels (Atlanta, Boston, Chicago and New York) were sold in the USA in order to concentrate more on the management of hotel operations in the future. At the end of 1997, 39,967 people were employed on a full-time basis. From April 1997 the third liberalization package (EU internal market) came into force in the EU area, but Swissair and Crossair were still denied free access to some of these markets. The cooperation within the framework of Atlantic Excellence bore its first fruits: The load factor on Swissair's US flights rose by 9 percentage points to 80% on an annual average. For this, the Global Excellence was dissolved after eight years of cooperation after the departure of Singapore Airlines. Seat occupancy worldwide rose by 6 percentage points to 70.5%. Swissair set a milestone in in- flight entertainment when it was the first airline in the world to equip a complete aircraft with an interactive video-on-demand system. "Natural Gourmet" was also the first airline in the world to switch its on-board catering to foods from integrated production . With the takeover of the 34th aircraft in the A320 family, the renewal of the European fleet was completed, which also marked the end of the DC-9 / MD-81 era after 31 years of operation. In order to replace the Boeing 747 early, it was decided to take over four MD-11 from the German LTU . As successors to the A310 and MD-11, 13 A330-200 and nine A340-600 were ordered. In order to counter the effects of the economic crisis in Asia , the flights to Seoul were suspended and the vacated capacity was relocated to San Francisco . In 1997, Swissair celebrated the 50th anniversary of its first Atlantic crossing with a three-month anniversary program that included nostalgic flights: On May 2, 1997, a DC-4 took off from Geneva on its anniversary flight to New York via Shannon and Gander. For this purpose, a DC-4 was rented from South African Airways and given a historical license plate and painted in the original colors of Swiss Air Lines. The nomination of the American Jeffrey Katz as the new CEO of Swissair caused a surprise, as an external manager was appointed top airline chief for the first time. Together with the British Raymond Lyons and Lee Shave (both ex British Airways) it was hoped to bring a breath of fresh air into the management of the national airline. With the establishment of Balair / CTA Leisure AG , the long-haul charter business was again peeled off from Swissair. A new company was also founded with Flightlease , which was active in lease and asset management. The aircraft of Swissair, Crossair and Sabena were transferred to this new company, which acted as an intermediary between financial institutions, manufacturers and SAirLines. This should enable a high level of fleet flexibility at low costs. In addition, the aim was to harmonize the fleet with Sabena: with the choice of Avro RJ85 and RJ100 aircraft for regional traffic, the A320 to replace the Boeing 737 and the A330-200 for long-haul traffic, an ambitious re-fleet was initiated. The frequent flyer program Qualiflyer now has over 1.5 million members. Swissport had to cope with a passenger growth of 14% at Zurich Airport; For the first time, evening check-in was offered at the Glatt shopping center at the beginning of the summer and autumn holidays . Thanks to a management contract with the Turkish HAVAS, Swissport was given access to eight airports in Turkey. In Germany, handling was offered at five other airports in cooperation with ASM Munich. Operations have also started in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Nairobi and San Juan (Puerto Rico) . The SR Technics , whose overall sales by 25 to renew DC-10 system technology to convert on a two-man cockpit and as was achieved with 52% with Swissair concluded with Boeing / McDonnell Douglas a contract, MD-10 to be certified. The joint venture Shannon Aerospace was able to consolidate its position as the cost leader in the overhaul market for Boeing 737 and MD80 / DC-9. SAirLogistics acquired a 34% equity stake in Cargolux , the largest European all -cargo airline, and signed a cooperation agreement that included so-called Blocked Space Agreements on selected routes. Swissôtel took over the management of the Renaissance hotel in Brussels and the traditional Geneva hotel Métropole . Gate Gourmet , which has already supplied over 200 airlines, took over the flight kitchen of British Airways in London-Heathrow and two operations in Lima and Santiago de Chile . Sales already reached CHF 1.5 billion. RailGourmet was increased after the acquisition of the Belgian rail catering company Restobel / Restorail and the British European Railway Catering Ltd. to the third largest provider in Europe and the market leader in England. Restorama entered the hospital catering market with the "Restosana" brand.

"Hunter strategy"

Airbus A330-223 HB-IQB "Glarus"
Airbus A330-223 HB-IQE "Appenzell IR" at Zurich-Kloten Airport
Logo of the Qualiflyer Group alliance

From 1998, the Hunter strategy propagated by the consulting firm McKinsey was implemented: The establishment of a separate alliance under Swissair management, preferably with European partners, the American Swissair partner Delta Air Lines and small national airlines with a strong market share in the home market. The aim was to go one step further than previous alliances and to bind the airlines through financial investments. This strategy was countered by the fundamental problem that healthy national airlines, for reasons of independence, were more interested in loose alliances with large companies and therefore only unprofitable airlines were available for financial investments. In March 1998 Swissair launched the Qualiflyer Group , a joint umbrella brand for ten independent airlines: In addition to Swissair, Crossair, and Sabena, also Austrian Airlines , Tyrolean , Lauda Air , Turkish Airlines , TAP Air Portugal , AOM French Airlines and Air Littoral . This opened up a larger network for the customer, an expanded range of frequent flyer programs and lounges, and simplified handling. Swissair also acquired stakes in several foreign airlines such as the Italian charter companies Volare (34%) and Air Europe (45%), the French regional airline Air Littoral (49%) and the German holiday airline LTU (49.9%). CHF 313 million was spent on these acquisitions. In addition, a loan of CHF 750 million was granted to LTU. Thanks to shared values, the specifically European cultural diversity and the targeted excellent quality standard, the Qualiflyer Group should be positioned as a quality brand in the long term. The common network of 10 hubs and 200 cities was to be optimized and the fleets harmonized with a multi-hub system . In order to finance the various investments, sale-and-lease-back transactions worth USD 900 million were carried out with the 14 MD-11s, one A330, two A321s and three A319s from Swissair. As a result, balance sheet values ​​of CHF 2.3 billion were liquefied. Within Atlantic Excellence , the offer was expanded to a total of 80 return flights per week with new joint courses. In addition, the previous partnerships with Air China , Air India , Vietnam Airlines and Malaysia Airlines in the Far East and Africa have been supplemented on a route-specific basis by new partnerships with Cathay Pacific , Japan Airlines , Qantas and South African Airways . In the leisure sector (long-haul charter business), a holiday flight association ( European Leisure Group ) was established with Balair / CTA Leisure, LTU, Air Europe, Volare and Sobelair . Despite the Asian crisis, the group was able to report a positive result, which in turn enabled the distribution of a dividend and profit sharing for employees: Group-wide sales rose by 7% to CHF 11.3 billion, the operating result rose by 6% to CHF 700 million and net profit by as much as 11% to 361 million. With an equity ratio of 20.3% (equity of CHF 2.8 billion), the ratio of net debt to equity improved from 0.98 to 0.73. The consolidated cash flow statement showed an increase in cash and cash equivalents of CHF 559 million to CHF 1.5 billion. The balance sheet also showed provisions in the amount of CHF 1.5 billion. The workforce rose by 9% to 43,696 full-time positions, of which 19,624 were employed in Switzerland. "The Art of Serving" was defined as the guiding principle of the group: The aim was to implement the high art of service in a future-oriented way: through courteous and individual customer care, through pronounced intercultural competence, through a high level of human appreciation and a refreshing dose of spontaneity . This should create a likeable added value for the customer. Although the bilateral negotiations between the EU and Switzerland were concluded after five years of struggle, a partial equality of the Swiss airlines with those of the EU could not be expected before 2001. Despite expanding its route network ( Malabo , Baku , Erewan , Tbilisi , Riga and Skopje ), Swissair was able to increase seat occupancy by 1.8 percentage points to 72.3%. For the first time it was also possible to make bookings on the Internet at . In cooperation with an Italian partner, Venice and Bologna were also flown to, using aircraft with a special "Swissair Express" livery. From June 1998 a general smoking ban was in effect on the entire route network; this had previously only been the case on European and North Atlantic flights. Around a quarter of Crossair's capacity was used for Swissair by serving routes which, due to the low demand, did not justify the use of larger Swissair aircraft. The frequent flyer program Qualiflyer now had 1.8 million members. The new group subsidiary Flightlease agreed a joint venture with GATX Capital Corp. , a major US leasing company, making it the third largest aircraft leasing company in the world. For the first time in years, Sabena was able to show a net profit for 1998. From 1998 Swissport increased its presence in South Africa with three stations in Johannesburg , Cape Town and Durban and in Brazil with five additional airports: Brasilia , Fortaleza , Manaus , Recife and Salvador da Bahía . With a capital stake of 40%, Swissport strengthened its cooperation with HAVAS , the leading handling company in Turkey. The SR Technics carried out the first major overhaul of Airbus A330-300 worldwide. In 1998 Atraxis was already the largest company in Switzerland in the IT services sector. Avireal specializes in the maintenance, maintenance and troubleshooting of strategically important systems and facilities for airports. Swissôtel has won five new management contracts for hotels in Geneva, Lima , Quito , Washington, DC and Dalian . In future, they wanted to position themselves as a luxury brand under the slogan "A Passion for Perfection". Gate Gourmet served over 200 global, regional and local airlines in 1998. New plants were opened in Oslo , Manila and Barcelona . Restorama operated 64 catering establishments at the end of 1998. As a particular success, she was able to book the mandate of project management for catering at the Swiss national exhibition " Expo.01 ". In order to focus on the core business, Nuance Global Traders sold the cruise ship sales business .

Accident machine HB-IWF

On the night of September 3, 1998, the worst accident in Swissair history occurred. On the way from New York to Geneva, an MD-11 with the aircraft registration HB-IWF crashed into the sea on Swissair flight 111 off Halifax ( Canada ) . 229 people (215 passengers and 14 crew members) were killed in the crash. Swissair was praised for its role in coping with the tragedy, as, in addition to fast, open and transparent communication, it set up specially trained care teams for the care of the bereaved and affected persons and continued the care for as long as the victims wanted . In addition, the Canadian authorities were actively supported in thoroughly clarifying the cause of the accident. The cause of the crash has never been fully clarified. The pilots had noticed smoke in the air in the cockpit and were preparing for an unscheduled landing near Halifax "just to be on the safe side". While working through the relevant checklist, flames suddenly struck the cockpit and its lighting went out, so that the piloting pilot lost all orientation. The cause of the fire was very likely a short-term hot arc of 4000 to 5000 ° C on electrical cables on the rear cockpit wall. Isolation mats certified by the American FAA caught fire. The Canadian investigative authorities came to the conclusion that the pilots had no chance of realizing the seriousness of the situation in time.

The year 1999 was characterized by growth and further acquisitions. The strategy of forming a large aviation group was consequently pursued: the cyclical fluctuations in the aviation business with changeable income should be combined with more balanced related activities in order to achieve a secure income base. With the stability gained in this way, an expansion program was to be financed, which was supposed to secure the value retention and independence of the group. The takeover of the American company Dobbs , the third largest airline caterer in the world, was the largest acquisition in the company's history and catapulted Gate Gourmet into the largest catering company in the world. Well- known holdings were acquired in the partner companies AOM (49%), South African Airways (20%) and the new Qualiflyer Group members LOT (37.6%) and Portugália (42%). A stake in TAP Air Portugal (34%) followed at the beginning of 2000. The cash flow statement showed a record high investment activity of CHF 3.2 billion. This was financed by taking out long-term Euro bonds, increasing bank liabilities by CHF 800 million and selling the stake in Jacky Maeder and Singapore Airlines. In addition, an accounting profit (actuarial surplus) of around CHF 1 billion resulted from the first-time application of IAS 19 . In October 1999 Delta decided to change its strategy and terminated the cooperation with Swissair, Sabena and Austrian Airlines that had existed since 1989 and founded the SkyTeam alliance with Air France . To replace the Atlantic Excellence Alliance, Swissair and Sabena entered into a long-term and extensive collaboration with American Airlines in the North Atlantic. Austrian Airlines, Lauda Air and Tyrolean also said goodbye to the Qualiflyer alliance. New members were Air Europe (Italy) and Volare. The first Qualiflyer Group Lounge was opened in Brussels. The holiday flight activities of Balair, Sobelair, LTU, Air Europe and Volare have now been combined in the European Leasure Group and the fleets have been largely harmonized with the A320 and B-767 . A pioneering achievement was the integration of the areas of sales, marketing, product design, network, human resources, finance & controlling and IT of the two independent airlines Swissair and Sabena into the Airline Management Partnership (AMP) - while maintaining the respective brand identity. These functions have now been divided between two locations: Zurich and Brussels. Flight operations were adversely affected for months by the Balkan War , which resulted in cancellations, but also a noticeable weakening in demand for transport. The pressure on average yields has increased because of the persistent overcapacities in the market. The fleets of Swissair and Balair were further modernized after useful life of the Airbus A310 and the Boeing 747 and the introduction of the Airbus A330 and Boeing 767, while the Crossair with the order of 75 Embraer machines of the ERJ-145 and 170 the largest Umflottung initiated her story. Under the heading "Seamless Customer Care", new systems were introduced, such as electronic ticketing and check-in using WAP mobile phones or the fast-track system, which saves information from flight tickets and passports on a chip card and when passing a checkpoint automatically recorded. New destinations in the flight plan were Miami , Mauritius , Washington and, after a 7-year break, again Tripoli and Benghazi . The Qualiflyer loyalty program, which had 2.5 million members , was transferred to an independent company in which Swissair held a 64% stake. Swissport continued the course of expansion and took over the competitor DynAir in North America and the ground services of Aer Lingus in London Heathrow. In a short time, Swissport rose to become one of the world's leading providers of ground handling services, with a presence at 103 airports in 17 countries. With the establishment of a joint venture SwissGlobalCargo together with Panalpina , one of the world's leading air freight forwarding and logistics companies, the aim was to participate in the growth of integrated air freight products (such as door-to-door). Cargologic put one of the world's most modern freight facilities into operation in the Zurich cargo hub with a fully automatic shipment and pallet handling warehouse . Gourmet Nova began operations with the successful takeover of the station restoration and the route network catering of the Finnish State Railways in a joint venture with Rail Gourmet . In addition to the acquisition of Dobbs , Gate Gourmet also took over 9 operations in Australia, 3 in Mexico, 2 in Ecuador and one each in Ecuador, Shanghai, Manila, Barcelona and Paris. In addition, thanks to its stake in Ligabue, it gained access to the Italian market in Rome, Milan and Venice. The Group's workforce increased by more than 20,000 within one year and at the end of 1999 was 68,442. The group's new motto was: “One Group. One team. One spirit. Together for our Customers ”. The operating year ended with an EBIT of CHF 643 million and a net profit of CHF 273 million were figure also includes impairment losses of CHF -436 million on the investments in airlines.


On May 1, 2000, the previous full-time Vice President Eric Honegger replaced Hannes Goetz as Chairman of the Board of Directors. In July, the CEO of Swissair, Jeffrey Katz, left the group. In the summer of 2000, a study by the consulting firm McKinsey came to the conclusion for the first time that there was a financing gap and that the Hunter strategy could no longer be financed. It was forecast that these investments would result in Swissair's losses for the next three financial years amounting to between CHF 3.25 billion and CHF 4.45 billion. Nonetheless, the Board of Directors approved the restructuring of the LTU in the amount of around CHF 500 million. There were also plans to take over Alitalia . CEO Philippe Bruggisser came under public pressure when the press published the group's financial position. The daily loss at Swissair and Sabena was one million francs each, and another million was lost every day at LTU and the French holdings. In the second half of the year, the extremely unfavorable market conditions accentuated the financial problems of investments in the aviation business. At LTU, Sabena and the three French companies in particular, the implementation of the necessary restructuring against diverse political and social interests turned out to be more time-consuming and cost-intensive than expected. The resources of time, capital and management capacity required to implement the chosen strategy exceeded the strength of the group. The plan could not be continued due to a lack of funds for further acquisitions and for the refinancing required in Germany, Belgium and France.

On January 23, 2001, CEO Philippe Bruggisser was dismissed without notice by the Chairman of the Board of Directors, Eric Honegger. However, the latter was unable to present a successor or a new strategy and plunged the group into a management and strategy crisis. Honegger himself took over the function of Group CEO. Moritz Suter , the founder of Crossair , was nominated as the new CEO of SAirLines - i.e. all group airlines including Swissair. After only 44 days, Suter resigned from his post. Almost at the same time, Paul Reutlinger resigned from his position as CEO of the French airlines AOM / Air Liberté / Air Littoral.

In March 2001, two more studies warned of a possible bankruptcy. As a result, the Board of Directors resigned as a whole - including the Chairman, Eric Honegger. Only Mario Corti , Nestlé's CFO at the time , stayed behind. He was ready to take on the role of Chairman of the Board of Directors and Group Manager on an ad interim basis .

Development up to bankruptcy

In April 2001 Mario Corti presented an annual loss of CHF 2.885 billion, which was due to the high provisions for the exit from the airline holdings. Such a balance sheet adjustment was necessary to reduce the risks of the airline holdings. The consolidated financial statements were burdened by the investments in the Qualiflyer companies with a total of CHF 3'725 million. This included shares in the results of CHF -796 million, loan impairment losses of CHF -506 million and provisions totaling CHF 2,423 million for restructuring costs, impairment of assets and liabilities from contracts. This only covered the expected obligations, but not future operating losses. High fuel costs caused negative results at Swissair (CHF -195 million), Crossair (CHF -20 million) and Balair / CTA (CHF -25 million). Flightlease, on the other hand, posted a profit of CHF 260 million, which means that the SAirLines division's result was nevertheless positive. Despite the shutdown of two long-haul aircraft and the suspension of various routes, Sabena achieved an operating result of CHF -255 million, which was additionally burdened by provisions for restructuring of CHF 158 million. This led to negative equity, which in turn required a recapitalization of EUR 250 million. In addition, SAirGroup was contractually obliged to increase its stake to 85% against a loan claim of CHF 151 million. The French companies posted a net loss of CHF 600 million and the LTU posted a loss of CHF 351 million. In contrast, Volare and Air Europe showed only a slightly negative result and LOT and SAA were the only positive results. However, the extensive depreciation and provisions had an impact on the equity base: This decreased to CHF 1,160 million, which corresponded to less than 6% of the balance sheet total. Net debt rose from CHF 4.3 billion to 6.3 billion. The Group's cash and cash equivalents were still CHF 3.5 billion. A bank consortium provided a bridging facility which, if necessary, secured pre-financing for future sales proceeds . The shambles in the airline business masked the good results of the other three corporate divisions - the second pillar of the dual strategy - which achieved or exceeded their performance targets. The result before investments was quite positive at CHF 603 million: in particular, companies such as Gate Gourmet (CHF 187 million), Nuance and SR Technics (both CHF 74 million), Swisscargo (CHF 69 million) and Swissport (CHF 36 million) contributed Million) with positive profit contributions to the group result. In Palmdale took SR Technics America on the operation and built on behalf of the Boeing Company DC-10 machines MD-10 to a contemporary two-man cockpit. Atraxis , which has already provided IT solutions to 60 airlines and 40 airports, opened a joint venture with 250 software engineers in Kerala . With “e-gatematrix” Gate Gourmet offered the world's first B2B platform in the airline catering sector. Nuance realized the largest store project in the company's history with 17 stores at Sydney Airport . With "", SwissGlobalCargo offered a time-defined door-to-door product without weight restrictions for the first time. Swissport received the “Global Ground Handling Company of the Year Award” from the European Institute of Transport Management . In addition, Swissair was voted number 1 in Europe for customer satisfaction in the independent “Airtrack 2000” study. With a workforce of 71,905, it operated 161 commercial aircraft, 122 ground handling stations, 164 catering operations, 349 Nuance sales outlets and 20 hotels.

Key figure in CHF million 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000
Income 8'212 10,556 11,297 13,002 16'229
EBIT 344 658 706 643 -2,592
Group result -497 324 362 273 -2,885
Workforce 36,050 39,967 43,696 68'442 71,905

A task force was set up to develop scenarios for improving the financial situation and for synergies between Swissair and Crossair. The hotel chain “Swissôtel” was sold for around 410 million francs in order to be able to repay loans to banks. In the summer of 2001, the largest loss makers in the group, AOM and Air Liberté, were sold. This required additional funds in the hundreds of millions. As a result of additional expenses at Sabena, the equity ratio fell to 2.55% on June 30, 2001 and liquid funds to CHF 550 million.

Swissair tried to sell two of the flight-related subsidiaries, but these attempts failed after the attacks of September 11, 2001 . The attacks plunged the entire aviation industry into the greatest crisis in its 100-year history and led to a massive devaluation of all assets .

On September 17, 2001, Corti informed the Federal Department of Finance that SAirGroup could be insolvent from the beginning of October and applied for a federal guarantee of one billion francs. A week later the “Swiss Air Lines” project was presented. It provided for a merger of Swissair and Crossair under the direction of Crossair boss André Dosé with a greatly reduced route network. On September 22nd, Mario Corti informed the Federal Council that the liquid funds would soon be used up. However, for regulatory reasons, the Federal Council decided against issuing a federal guarantee.

On the weekend 29./30. In September 2001, under the direction of the two major Swiss banks, UBS and Credit Suisse, the “ Phoenix ” project was developed and approved, which provided for the banks to take over the Crossair shares held by SAirGroup. The subsidiary Crossair would then have taken over part of the fleet and the Swissair brand from SAirGroup. The aim was to set up a new airline free of financial burdens. The bank consortium only agreed to take over the Crossair shares at the stock exchange price on condition that the purchase proceeds were only used for the flight business until October 3rd. In addition, Crossair was provided with working capital of CHF 550 million and a capital increase of CHF 350 million.

"Grounding" - suspension of flight operations

On October 1, 2001, the public was informed about the "Phoenix" project at a press conference and it was announced that a debt restructuring moratorium would be applied for for parts of the group. Transitional financing to maintain flight operations was no longer available in time, although the Federal Council was ready to take on half of a loan.

On October 2, 2001, the liquidity requirement rose sharply, as all suppliers insisted on cash payments and settlement of open invoices due to the debt restructuring moratorium announced the previous evening. The cash reserves of Swissair filed that day from just to be able to perform the first morning flights. In the course of the morning the fuel suppliers refused to refuel the waiting aircraft. Other group accounts could not be used on the one hand due to the prior termination of the cash pooling facility by UBS and on the other hand because of the threat of preferential creditors . The big banks refused to advance the sales proceeds and demanded the formal legal validity of the sales contract before a transfer was made.

At 3:45 p.m., CEO Mario Corti asked the acting head of operations, Manfred Brennwald, to cease flight operations completely due to the safety risks caused by the flight duty regulations being exceeded . One of the most important national symbols of Switzerland was on the ground and with it thousands of stranded passengers from all over the world. Several flight crews were stranded abroad. Their company credit cards were blocked by the banks, which some employees of their hotels were referred to and had to return home at their own expense.

The Crossair shares were only overwritten on the evening of October 2nd. The purchase price was only received on the following day - after flight operations had ceased - on the SAirLines ( not Swissair) account .

On October 4, 2001, a demonstration of more than 10,000 employees and sympathizers took place in Glattbrugg in front of the UBS representation, protesting against the forced cessation of flight operations. The day after, another large demonstration took place on the Bundesplatz in Bern. Thousands of UBS customers terminated their accounts in protest at the behavior of the big bank.

Transition phase

On October 5th, flight operations were resumed thanks to an emergency loan of CHF 450 million from the federal government: In addition to the 110 Crossair flights, Swissair operated around 50 flights, which together corresponded to around a third of the flight schedule. Little by little, around two thirds of the routes were resumed, both to ensure the accessibility of Switzerland as a business location and to create a basis for founding Swiss. In addition, a total collapse of Swissair should prevent the flight-related operations from collapsing as well.

At the end of October 2001, the banks and the government agreed on the financing of the new airline, at the same time the federal government promised A-fonds-perdu financing of over one billion francs in order to keep Swissair running until it was founded. In the 2001/2002 winter flight schedule, from October 28th, 69 destinations were flown to by Crossair and 59 destinations by Swissair.

MD-11 from Swiss in June 2002 - still in Swissair painting scheme but with Swiss lettering

On Easter Monday, April 1, 2002, the last Swissair scheduled flight landed in Zurich: SR145 from São Paulo . This marked the end of a 71-year chapter in Swiss aviation history. Between 1931 and 2002, Swissair had transported over 260 million passengers. 26 long-haul aircraft each (McDonnell Douglas MD-11 and Airbus A330 ) and 26 medium -haul aircraft ( Airbus A321 , Airbus A320 and Airbus A319 ) were transferred to Crossair at the end of the 2001/02 winter flight schedule and together with their 82 aircraft formed the fleet of the new Swiss . Since then, Swissair and its parent company SAirGroup have been in debt restructuring or liquidation.

On December 22, 2007, liquidator Karl Wüthrich announced that in spring 2008 the creditors would receive money from the estate for the first time since the bankruptcy. Claims of employees and social security would be paid out in full, so-called third-class creditors such as suppliers, banks and bondholders would be paid out with a maximum dividend of 10.4%.

Reasons for the collapse

Due to ongoing civil law proceedings, parts of the causes of the collapse of the SAirGroup are the subject of legal disputes and are therefore not fully legally clarified. The following causes are generally recognized as being decisive:

  • With the “Hunter strategy”, the Board of Directors deliberately chose a risky option. The Star Alliance campaigned for Swissair, but due to the great influence of Deutsche Lufthansa AG, Swissair rejected this option. The importance of its own Qualiflyer alliance, of which Austrian Airlines was a member, declined sharply after it joined the Star Alliance. Swissair did not want to join any of the major alliances.
  • The management underestimated the dangers and difficulties associated with takeovers and investments in partially ailing airlines. The Belgian Sabena and the German LTU were taken over despite the considerable capital requirements. In addition, the investments in France (AOM, Air Liberté and Air Littoral) required a lot of restructuring capital.
  • The over-indebtedness was caused by an uncompromising implementation of the “Hunter strategy” that was not adapted to the realities and the lack of supervision by the Board of Directors.
  • The terrorist attacks in the USA led to a collapse in demand and consequently to an extreme deterioration in the liquidity situation.
  • An orderly transfer of flight operations to Crossair failed due to the failure to obtain a bridging loan and the delayed transfer of the share purchase price.

Judicial processing

On March 31, 2006, after five years of investigation , the public prosecutor III of the Canton of Zurich, responsible for economic crimes, brought charges against 19 people, including all members of the then Board of Directors ( Eric Honegger , Vreni Spoerry , Thomas Schmidheiny , Lukas Mühlemann and others), the CEOs (Mario Corti , Philippe Bruggisser) as well as other members of the management ( Georges Schorderet , Jacqualyn Fouse ), among other things because of unfaithful business management, preferential treatment of creditors, damage to creditors, mismanagement , false certification and forgery of documents . The public prosecutor's office demanded imprisonment of six to 28 months as well as heavy fines and fines. The competent court was the Bülach District Court . The first instance trial began on January 16, 2007 in the town hall in Bülach and lasted until March 9, 2007. The verdict was announced on June 7, 2007, all defendants were fully acquitted and received compensation between 18 'for the costs incurred in the process. 232 and 488,681 francs were awarded. In large parts of the population and politics, the judgment met with incomprehension. The prosecution did not advance the verdict. The Canton of Neuchâtel , the Belgian State and two controlled by the Belgian State companies that Société Fédérale de Participations et d'Investissement and the Société Anonyme Zephyr-Fin , appealed against the acquittal of Mario Corti on two counts appeal a. The higher court of the Canton of Zurich acquitted Corti in June 2008.

In addition, civil law suits are pending or announced by the administrator.


Last active fleet (as of October 2001)

Number Airplane type Period of use Mark
9 Airbus A319-112 from 1996 HB-IPR - Z
20th Airbus A320-214 from 1995 HB-IJA - T
12 Airbus A321-111 from 1995 HB-IOA - L
16 Airbus A330-223 from 1998 HB-IQA - P
19th McDonnell Douglas MD-11 from 1991 HB-IWA - E, HB-IWG - U

In addition, nine Airbus A340-600s were ordered, but they were no longer delivered.

Previously deployed aircraft

In its long history, Swissair has operated a large number of different types of aircraft. For detailed information see

Propeller aircraft until 1945

Fokker VII a , Fokker VII b, Messerschmitt M18 d , Comte AC-4 , Lockheed 9 Orion , Clark GA-43 , Curtiss AT-32C Condor, Douglas DC-2 , Junkers Ju 86 -B-0, De Havilland DH.89 Dragon Rapide , Douglas DC-3 , De Havilland DH.98 Mosquito (briefly as a pure mail plane)

Propeller aircraft after 1945

Douglas DC-4 , Mraz M-65 Cap (as a photo aircraft for Swissair Photo), Nord 1000 (trainer aircraft), Convair CV-240 Liner, Douglas DC-6 B, Convair CV-440 Metropolitan , Douglas DC-7C Seven Seas , Scottish Aviation Twin Pioneer , Douglas DC-6A Cargoliner (cargo aircraft), plus from 1965–72 Fokker F-27 Friendship 400 in Balair colors for Swissair routes from Bern-Belp .

Jet planes

From 1960 the introduction of jet aircraft followed, which by 1968 had completely replaced the propeller aircraft.
Sud Aviation SE210 Caravelle , Douglas DC-8 -32, Convair CV-880 -22M, Convair CV-990 A Coronado , Douglas DC-8-53, Douglas DC-9-15 , BAC 1-11 , Douglas DC-9- 32, Douglas DC-8-62, Boeing 747 -257B, McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30, Douglas DC-9-41, Douglas DC-9-51, Douglas DC-9-81 / 82/83 , Airbus A310 - 221, Boeing 747-357, Airbus A310-322, Fokker 100 , McDonnell Douglas MD-11 , Airbus A321 -111, Airbus A320-214, Airbus A319-112 , Airbus A330 -223


flight date plane Art route dead reason
July 27, 1934 Curtiss AT-32C Crash in worms Zurich – Stuttgart 12 A wing of the three-month-old aircraft broke due to strong turbulence
February 27, 1936 Douglas DC-2 HB-ITI Crash landing in Dübendorf Zurich – London no
April 30, 1936 Clark GA-43 HB-ITU Crash on the Rigi Frankfurt – Basel two Navigation error
August 12, 1936 Junkers Ju 86 HB-IXI Crash landing near Wixhausen
January 7, 1939 Douglas DC-2 HB-ITA Crash at Senlis near Paris Zurich – Paris 5 (of 17) poor visibility on landing
July 20, 1939 Junkers Ju 86 HB-IXA / HB-IXE Crash at Constance Vienna – Zurich 6th Engine failure
August 5, 1939 Douglas DC-2 HB-ITE Crash landing in Dübendorf Basel – Zurich Rolling over the runway
August 9, 1944 Douglas DC-2 HB-ISI Destruction after a bomb attack near Stuttgart Bomb hit
December 13, 1950 Douglas DC-4 HB-ILE Crash landing in Sydney (NS) Shannon - Gander none (31 inmates) approach too deep
December 14, 1951 Douglas DC-4 HB-ILO Crash landing in Amsterdam- Schiphol dense fog
Geneva-Heathrow (HB-IRW) June 19, 1954 Convair CV-240 HB-IRW Ditching in the English Channel off Folkestone Geneva – London 3 dead (out of 9) Pilot error: aircraft not refueled; Death of passengers by drowning, no life jackets on board (not mandatory at the time)
July 15, 1956 Convair CV-440 HB-IMD Stall in the final approach curve at Shannon Gander-Shannon all 4 occupants fatigue
June 18, 1957 Douglas DC-3 HB-IRK Stall on a training flight over Lake Constance Zurich – Zurich all 9 occupants
Swissair flight 306 4th September 1963 Sud Aviation Caravelle HB-ICV Crash at Dürrenäsch Zurich – Geneva all 80 inmates Fire in the landing gear well
February 10, 1967 Convair CV-440 Metropolitan HB-IMF Crash in the warehouses near Zurich Training flight all 4 occupants CFIT in the fog
Swissair flight 330 February 21, 1970 Convair CV-990 Coronado HB-ICD Crash near Würenlingen Zurich – Tel Aviv all 47 inmates Bomb in the luggage compartment
Swissair flight 100 6./12. September 1970 Douglas DC-8 HB-IDD «Nidwalden» blown up on an airfield near Zarqa in Jordan Zurich – New York none (157 inmates) Kidnapping by the PFLP
Swissair flight 316 October 8, 1979 Douglas DC-8-62 HB-IDE Crash landing at the airport in Athens Geneva – Athens 14 (of 154) Overshooting the slope after touching down late and slowing down insufficiently
Swissair flight 111 September 2, 1998 McDonnell Douglas MD-11 HB-IWF «Vaud» Crash into the sea at Peggy's Cove , Nova Scotia New York – Geneva all 229 inmates Cable fire in the in-flight entertainment system led to cockpit fire , instrument failure and loss of control

Fuel drain

In 1993 and 1994, Swissair had to discharge an average of 286 tonnes of kerosene per year worldwide and 200 tonnes of kerosene in the areas of responsibility of Swiss air traffic control .


  • The Swiss astronomer Paul Wild named the asteroid 2138 Swissair , which he discovered in 1968, after the airline .
  • In a 2007 episode ( Who Honors the Penny ) of the US sitcom How I Met Your Mother , a Swissair plane turned up at JFK Airport in New York, although the airline had ceased to exist for six years.
  • The Swissair brand was bought by the successor airline Swiss in 2009 from the estate. In order to guarantee the protection of the brand, the private airline Hopscotch Air flies as a licensee in the USA with the Swissair logo. For the same reason, the Motorfluggruppe Zürich has been flying in Switzerland with two corresponding aircraft since 2011.
  • The establishment of a Swissair museum in the historic terminal building at Dübendorf airfield was suggested in 2016 and submitted to the cantonal council on February 22, 2016 as an individual initiative.

See also


  • Werner Vogt: Swiss. The airline of Switzerland . With a guest contribution by Jürgen Dunsch. 1st edition. NZZ Libro, Zurich 2018, ISBN 978-3-03810-313-4 (215 pages).
  • Benedikt Meyer: In flight. Swiss airlines and their passengers, 1919–2002 . Chronos, Zurich 2014, ISBN 978-3-0340-1238-6 .
  • Sandro Fehr: The development of the third dimension. Origin and development of the civil aviation infrastructure in Switzerland . Chronos, Zurich 2014, ISBN 978-3-0340-1228-7 .
  • Ruedi Weidmann: Swissair souvenirs. The Swissair photo archive . Scheidegger & Spiess, Zurich 2012, ISBN 978-3-85881-359-6 .
  • Constantin Seibt : The Swissair process . Real time, Basel 2007, ISBN 978-3-905800-04-3 .
  • Urs von Schroeder: Swissair 1931–2002. The rise, splendor and end of an airline . Huber, Frauenfeld 2002, ISBN 3-7193-1276-3 .
  • René Lüchinger : The case of Swissair. Why Swissair went under . Balance sheet, Zurich 2001, ISBN 3-909167-67-5 .



Web links

Commons : Swissair  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b Meyer: In flight . 2014, p. 38.
  2. Fehr: The development of the third dimension. 2014.
  3. ^ Meyer: In flight . 2014, p. 40.
  4. ^ Meyer: In flight . 2014, p. 39.
  5. ^ Meyer: In flight . 2014, p. 88.
  6. ^ Meyer: In flight . 2014, pp. 68-77.
  7. ^ Meyer: In flight . 2014, p. 82.
  8. ^ Meyer: In flight . 2014, p. 98.
  9. ^ Meyer: In flight . 2014, p. 117.
  10. ^ Meyer: In flight . 2014, p. 87.
  11. ^ Meyer: In flight . 2014, p. 107.
  12. ^ Meyer: In flight . 2014, p. 114.
  13. ^ Meyer: In flight . 2014, p. 106.
  14. ^ Meyer: In flight . 2014, pp. 117-120.
  15. a b Meyer: In flight . 2014, p. 162.
  16. ^ Meyer: In flight . 2014, p. 165.
  17. ^ Meyer: In flight . 2014, p. 154.
  18. ^ Meyer: In flight . 2014, p. 155.
  19. ^ Meyer: In flight . 2014, p. 166.
  20. a b Meyer: In flight . 2014, pp. 202–203.
  21. a b Meyer: In flight . 2014, p. 203.
  22. ^ Meyer: In flight . 2014, pp. 160–161.
  23. ^ Meyer: In flight . 2014, pp. 162–163.
  24. a b Meyer: In flight . 2014, p. 298.
  25. ^ Meyer: In flight . 2014, p. 205.
  26. a b Meyer: In flight . 2014, p. 240.
  27. ^ Meyer: In flight . 2014, p. 231.
  28. ^ Meyer: In flight . 2014, p. 339.
  29. ^ Meyer: In flight . 2014, p. 247.
  30. ^ Meyer: In flight . 2014, p. 253.
  31. ^ Meyer: In flight . 2014, p. 243.
  32. ^ Meyer: In flight . 2014, p. 250.
  33. ^ Meyer: In flight . 2014, p. 294.
  34. a b Meyer: In flight . 2014, p. 284.
  35. a b Meyer: In flight . 2014, p. 296.
  36. ^ Meyer: In flight . 2014, p. 287.
  37. ^ Meyer: In flight . 2014, p. 289.
  38. UBS is spared much more than Swissair . In: Tages-Anzeiger . January 21, 2009.
  39. Werner Enz: 15 years after the grounding: The last day of Swissair In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung . October 1, 2016.
  40. Peter Blunschi: 15 years of Swissair grounding: If Switzerland overestimates itself, things go wrong In: . October 2nd, 2016.
  41. It continues for the time being. In: Manager Magazin . October 4, 2001, accessed January 8, 2014 .
  42. Financing unclear: Swissair flies with emergency program. In: Der Spiegel . October 11, 2001, accessed January 8, 2014 .
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