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New Swiss Airline Begins Service

April 01, 2002|From Associated Press

GENEVA — Switzerland's new national airline, Swiss, took to the air Sunday, combining the services of the defunct carrier Swissair and regional airline Crossair.

The first Swiss flight was a 30-minute hop from Basel to Zurich--the two headquarters of the new airline. The airline's new boss, Andre Dose, was aboard the flight, said spokesman Patrick Jeandrain.

The last Swissair plane will not touch down until today. Flight SR145 from Buenos Aires and Sao Paulo, Brazil, is scheduled to arrive in Zurich at 7:20 a.m. local time.

Dose, formerly head of Crossair, told Swiss radio that he was optimistic about the airline's future. He said reservations for flights so far had been better than expected.

But he said it would take some time to settle an accord to enter the Oneworld Alliance headed by AMR Corp.'s American Airlines and British Airways. Swiss has already announced a code-sharing partnership with American.

Swissair collapsed in October with debt of $7.9 million, and it took an injection of $273 million in emergency funds from the government to keep its planes in the air over the winter period.

The government then helped organize a group of corporate sponsors, led by Nestle. Federal and local governments and Swiss companies raised $1.7 billion to give Swiss a stable financial base.

The new company will have 128 aircraft and fly to 126 destinations in 59 countries.

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