20 January 2007

Swissair trial

Articles in the International Herald Tribune, the Guardian and on Swissinfo report on the background to and 16 January 2007 start of the trial near Zurich of 19 Swissair board members and senior executives.

Swissair was grounded on 2 October 2001 shortly after the 11 September 2001 tragedy in the United States and three years after one of its MD-11 aircraft crashed off Nova Scotia. The airline had tried to execute a strategy of purchasing shares in foreign international airlines (the "hunter strategy"), something that is in effect generally restricted to minority stakes by the terms of international air services arrangements.

Around the same time in Australasia there was also a major airline financial collapse. Ansett Australia, which had been taken over the year before by Air New Zealand, was placed in voluntary administration on 13 September 2001.

The last similar court trial in New Zealand following an airline collapse was that of Ewan Wilson, the founder of short-lived Kiwi Travel International Airlines, which provided trans-Tasman services pioneering international operations out of New Zealand provincial airports. The short history of Kiwi, which ceased services on 9 September 1996, is now used as a case study in university courses.

Other recent airline financial collapses in New Zealand have included:
  • Tasman Pacific Airlines, which purchased Ansett New Zealand and traded as Qantas New Zealand in a franchise arrangement (went into receivership on 21 April 2001); and
  • Origin Pacific Airways (ceased operating passenger services on 10 August 2006)

Note: I have linked to the Wikipedia articles on the airlines concerned but none yet provide entirely satisfactory historical accounts.

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