While the names SWISS and Swissair have dominated Switzerland-based commercial aviation over the decades, there was another airline that bore the Swiss moniker on international operations.
Three months of action
Swiss World Airways (SWA) was formed in 1997, looking to fill a gap in its country’s airline industry. The Geneva-headquartered carrier sought to meet demand on routes that were dropped by compatriot Swissair. Flights formally commenced in September 1998. However, just three months later, services were suspended.
According to Airfleets, the airline held a Boeing 757-200 and 767-200. The 757 held registration PH-AHK. Since March 1989, it has flown with Air Holland, Britannia Airways, Inter European Airways, Leisure Air, and America West before joining Swiss World Airway in October 1998. In December of that year, it was transferred back to Air Holland. The aircraft was converted to a freighter with Federal Express in August 2009.
Meanwhile, the 767 held registration HB-IIX. It entered service with Air New Zealand in September 1985. TACA and Ansett Australia (which leased out the twinjet) flew the unit before it joined SWA in June 1998. After leaving the airline in December of that year, it has flown as a freighter with Star Air Freight and Maersk Air Cargo.
SWA flew its 767 nonstop between Newark and Geneva. The operation was daily except on Wednesdays. Flight SO 001 would leave Geneva at 09:45 before arriving at Newark at 12:00. The return, SO 002, would leave Newark at 17:25 and arrive in Geneva at 07:15.
According to Airline Timetable Images, a schedule showed prospects of additional operations, including thrice-weekly flights to Chicago, twice-weekly flights to Miami, and weekly flights to Orlando. Expanding across North America, services to Montreal were also being looked into. It appears that the 757 didn’t actually fly on scheduled services with the operator.
Executives concluded that significant capital was required for a successful launch, and the carrier would be making losses even after its fifth year. Shareholders sought potential partners. There were talks with the likes of Air Engiadina and Lemenair for regional expansion. Meanwhile, there were hopes that Virgin could be a key partner on long-haul routes. Still, the project soon collapsed.
Even though Swissair readjusted its network, it was still active during this period, deploying its Airbus A310 nonstop between Newark and Basel. Nonetheless, had SWA waited a few years to launch, it could have taken advantage of the transition in Swiss aviation when Swissair went bankrupt in 2002.
What are your thoughts about the short-lived history of Swiss World Airways? Do you feel there was potential for the airline in the market? Let us know what you think of the overall prospects in the comment section.