The SWISSAIR legend



1931  March 26th

Swissair begins flying. The company employs 64 staff, including 10 pilots, 7 ground crew and 8 technicians. The total fleet numbers 13, comprising 9 Fokkers, 2 Dornier-Merkur, 1 Messerschmitt and 1 Comte.


Swissair becomes the first European airline to hire a flight attendant. The uniforms and styles would change over the years, but never the commitment of the staff. In the 1970’s, uniforms would be colour-coded for the job: blue for flying crew, red for special assistance, yellow for check-in and so on.


The DC-3 makes its Swissair debut.


A DC-2 makes Swissair’s first direct flight from London to St.Moritz.


Eight years after Swissair began flying, its fleet comprises 5 DC-3s, 3 DC-2s, 1 Dragon-Rapide, 1 Fokker and 1 Compte. The total number of seats: 163.


A football match between Switzerland and England in July is thrown into doubt because no aeroplanes are available from the UK to bring over the English team. With the match already sold out, Swissair comes to the rescue and make the first post-war flight from Dübendorf to London collect the English team. Swissair also takes the team home – after the Swiss beat them 3-1.


Swissair takes delivery of its first four-engined DC-4.


The first Swissair DC-4 transatlantic flight to New York takes place. The journey last 23 hours 36 minutes, including fuel, stops in Ireland and Newfoundland. The Captain’s name is Walter Borner. In the same year, extra destinations in South America and South Africa are added to Swissair’s growing worldwide network.


After a night flight on the DC-6B (Swissair’s first long haul aeroplane with a pressurised cabin), passengers receive breakfast in bed.


Swissair extends its reach into South America with a new service: Zurich-Geneva-Lisbon-Dakar-Recife-Rio de Janeiro-San Paulo.


The airline launches Europe’s first in-flight magazine, the Swissair Gazette. South America connections grow. Swissair extends its routeings to Montevideo and Buenos Aires. Five years later it reaches further, this time to Santiago de Chile. Swissair opens up to the Far East, with Tokyo the final destination on its new routes.


Swissair’s firs four Caravelles take to the air. This popular aeroplane is an immediate hit and the company orders four more. The Caravelle would replace the entire DC-9 fleet over the next 11 years.


Swissair begins flying to West Africa. Accra and Lagos are the first two destinations. Meanwhile, Montreal and Chicago are added to North American routes.


Tunis and Tripoli are added to the list of North African destinations.


Swissair extends its reach in Africa with flights to Abidjan and Casablanca. A new Eastern European destination is Budapest.


Swissair increases its Eastern Europe impact with flights to Zagreb and Bucharest.


Swissair orders its first two Boeing 747 “Jumbos”. Moscow is Swissair’s newest destination. Holiday-makers, meanwhile, are delighted by Swissair’s announcement that it will begin flying to Malaga. Also this year, passenger steps at the rear of the aeroplane were used on an SE-210 Caravelle.


Swissair’s last propeller aeroplane (a Convair CV-440) lands at Kloten, to be greeted by a farewell party.


Flights between Zurich and Berne are stopped. Before the rail link was opened, the passenger was transported by Postbus.


Swissair enters the jumbo age with the delivery of its first Boeing 747, operating between Switzerland and New York. Swissair also begins flying to Boston. Swissair makes its last flight using a Caravelle.


An era comes to a close as Swissair makes its last flight using a Convair-990 “Coronado”, a popular aeroplane with passengers. One of the planes is donated to the Swiss transport Museum in Lucerne. Flown to Stans, the aircraft is then transported by boat to Lucerne.


Swissair becomes only the second western airline to fly to China and also the first foreign airline to fly to two Chinese destinations: Beijing and Shanghai.


Swissair’s first round-the-world flight with a DC-10. The trip takes 16 days.


Swissair carries its 100.000.000th passenger.


The A310 makes its debut in the Swissair fleet, alongside two new 747s with stretched upper decks. The new craft is photographed by flying two aeroplanes in parallel over the Matterhorn.


Gabriela Lüthi becomes the first woman to attend the Swiss flying school and two years later becomes Swissair’s first female co-pilot. March this year, I started my adventure as a flight attendant


Non-stop flights from Zurich to Tokyo begin on the Siberian route.


Swissair’s fleet consists of 55 aircraft: five 747-357, 11 DC-10-30, 4 A310 Intercontinental and 5 A310 Europa, 22 MD-81 and 8 Fokker 100.


After the historic changes in Eastern Europe, Swissair adds Kiev and St Petersburg to its list of destinations.


Swissair’s last DC-10 flight.


A new concept for Business Class is launched on European flights.


Newark, Calgary and Vancouver are new routes.


Swissair Gazette celebrates its 40th anniversary. Ho Chi Minh City and Kuala Lumpur are added to Swissair’s route network. Following my heart, at the end of August I quit the company and started a new job in my home Canton Ticino (South of Switzerland).


Swissair’s first A330-200 begins flying.


For the fifth year in a row, Swissair is voted Europe’s leading airline at the World Travel Awards.

On 2 October 2001, at 15:45 CEO Mario Corti decided to discontinue flight operations.

March 31st. 2002 Swissair was closed.


The film Grounding – Gli ultimi giorni di Swissair (2006) tries to analyse the causes and key events that led to the failure of SwissAir in 2001 and the famous grounding of 2 October 2001. In addition, the calamity of flight Swissair 111 was analysed in an episode of surveys of high-altitude Fire onboard.

Il film Grounding – Gli ultimi giorni di Swissair (2006) cerca di analizzare le cause e gli episodi chiave che hanno condotto al fallimento di SwissAir nel 2001 e al famoso grounding del 2 ottobre 2001. Inoltre la sciagura del volo Swissair 111 è stata analizzata nella puntata di indagini ad alta quota Fuoco a bordo.

In The German language, at this link, you may read the whole story about the wrong decisions of strategy which brought this fantastic airline to its end.

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