Swiss Air and the Dissolution of the Qualifier Group

Topics: Lufthansa, Star Alliance, Swiss International Air Lines Pages: 5 (1930 words) Published: December 3, 2005
Aircraft of Swiss Air were grounded in Zurich back in 2001 due to the lack of cash flow. There was so little money left that there was not enough money to pay for fuel. This was even more surprising since this airline was in one of the richest countries in the world, Switzerland. Swissair managed to establish itself as a quality airline throughout its home country of Switzerland and in Europe. Swiss Air celebrated its 70th birthday in March that year with no indications of what would happen in early October of 2001.

Swissair was originated in 1931 from shareholders of two main Swiss airlines. The combination of these shareholders made the new company of Swiss Air. These two airlines were Ad Astra-Aero and Balair. At that time the two airlines had 13 aircraft and 64 employees who flew 4 domestic and 14 international flights that went all over Zurich. More recently Swissair converted to an all Airbus fleet in which 3 members of the A320 family and A330-200 provided the services. It grew from the initial 18 routes to a stronger network encircling most of Europe.

In 1934 Swissair became the first airline to employ European airhostesses. The airline was known for its fleet decisions and catering among other services. In 1958 they made their first alliance with Scandinavian Airlines. During 1968 they became the third European airline to operate and all jet fleet which put them above and beyond all other airlines in the world. In 1988 Swissair became the world's first airline with an all Category 3 fleet equipped for low visibility landings; once again the airline was at the forefront of technology. Then in 1991 they were the world's first airline to publish an environmental impact report which showed the effects their jets had on the environment and the noise had on communities. In 1996 they became the world's first airline to serve organic food in all classes of flights out of Switzerland.

It is clear that innovations had a lot to do with what made Swissair but it was not the only factor in the equation. They were the last European airline to change from an 8 to 9 abreast in the economy of their DC aircraft and from a 9 to 10 abreast in the economy on their Boeing 747 aircraft. Swissair earned their worldwide acclaim through their metal cutlery in their economy which had an appropriate balance of innovation and conservatism.

On the other side of things, Swissair also had their fair share of problems throughout their history. They suffered a number of accidents and incidents even though they had one of the best safety records in the industry. Their most recent one came in 1998 after nearly 20 years of zero incidents. One of their aircraft lost power to its engines and crashed in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Nova Scotia. Everyone on the flight died which included 215 passengers and 14 crewmembers. That was considered the darkest day in Swissair's history, but little did they know what was to become in 2001.

The end of Swiss Air was the result of poor decisions by managers who had little experience in the air transport industry. In the mid 1990's management went with an expansion plan that seemed to be in the right direction. It was suppose to help Swissair remain strong and grow and continue to be successful. Swiss Air acquired a large number of overseas airlines that included Delta Air Lines and Singapore Airlines. Their main thrust came from a number of European carriers with smaller routes but would open up other destinations to the Airline. They had created an alliance with smaller carriers that could compete with the bigger ones, which included One World and Star Alliance. The acquisition of these smaller but financially troubled airlines led to the beginning of Swiss Airs financial troubles.

Most of the Qualifier Group Airlines had their problems as well. One of the airlines, Sabena, had made profit only once during their existence. It soon became obvious that Swissair's...
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