SAHARAAIRLINES, S. A.: Cite Ezzahara, Touggourt, Quargla, Algeria; Code 6S; Year Founded 1999. Sahara is established by private Algerian investors in late 1999 to offer domestic services around the huge North African nation. Revenue flights begin with a pair of Fairchild-Hiller FH-227s.
SAHARA INDIAAIRLINES, LTD.: India (1993-2000). This new entrant is established by its president, S. Roy Sahara, at Bombay on September 20, 1991, to begin new scheduled services to India’s regional markets. The company is a subsidiary of Sahara India Pariwar, a corporation with interests not only in aviation, but also in banking, housing, mass communications, consumer products, and export. Uttam Kumar Bose is named CEO, with Capt. S. P. S. Sandhu as operations manager. A permit is sought to begin scheduled airline flights.
Employing a pair of leased jetliners, one each Boeing 737-2U4 and B-737-2R4CA, the company inaugurates frequencies on December 3,
1993, linking its base with Delhi, Calcutta, and Bangalore.
While practicing touch-and-go landings at New Delhi on March 8,
1994, a B-737-2R4C with four crew crashes and slides into a parked Aeroflot Russian International Airlines (ARIA) Il-86 that is being serviced. All aboard the Sahara aircraft are killed, along with four ground crew.
The company now operates to 10 domestic destinations. The government in November grants a special exemption from its ban on aircraft imports and allows Sahara to import a pair of leased B-737-4Q8s.
The number of destinations served reaches nine during 1995.
Operations continue apace in 1996 and two more B-737-4Q8s are leased in November. The workforce climbs to 1,450.
During the spring of 1997, the company places a $25-million order with Eurocopter for four helicopters, three AS-355Fs and an AS-365N Dauphin. Arrangements are also made to lease three more B-737-4Q8s.
At the same time and with a 10-year lease finance deal from Indian banks, orders, valued at $65 million, are sent to Aero International (Regional) for five ATR42-500s, with options for two others.
Traffic figures are released through July. These show customer bookings up 42.5% over the same period a year earlier, to 197,866. Freight skyrockets 71.1% to 3.25 million FTKs.
During the summer, the four Boeing jetliners receive a $2-million makeover that includes a new exterior paint job and an interior facelift. Twelve economy-class seats are removed in order to expand the business-class cabins, increasing seat pitch and leg space. New carpets, seat-covers, and curtains are also provided. At the same time, Club Crown, a frequent flyer program for corporate travelers, is introduced.
Beginning in October, the new rotary-wing fleet is employed to fly on tourist and feeder routes between Patna, Bodh Gaya, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Bombay, and Pune.
It is announced by The Hindustan Times on November 26 that the carrier has won the 1997 “World Travel Market” award for the quality of its service within the Indian airline market.
The ATR42-500s arrive during November and December. Two are based at Delhi, two in Bombay, and one in Calcutta. They are deployed from those cities to connect feeder communities with the carrier’s main trunk routes. Enplanements total 436,050.
Flights continue in 1998. Airline employment stands at 1,700 and 1,280 offices are operated around the country.
CEO Bose over sees the introduction of a new premium-class service as well as a drive to boost its frequent flyer program and various new public relations campaigns. Customers in business-class seating are now given a choice of Italian, Chinese, Mexican, or Thai food.
Plans are finalized for a major fleet expansion over the next year. It is announced on December 3 that, with government approval, the carrier will add 10, 70-seat turboprops, 2 Next Generation B-737-700s, and 2 helicopters before the end of 1999. The single largest capacity hike by an Indian domestic private airline will enable Sahara to increase its route network significantly.
On December 15, Chief General Manager Kapil Kaul reports that Sahara has installed airborne collision avoidance systems (ACAS) on three of its aircraft. It will be installed on the remaining aircraft before the December 31 government deadline.
Passenger boardings accelerate 14.5% to 510,000, but cargo traffic falls 11.7% to 7.41 million FTKs. Revenues climb 10.5% to $87 million.
While en route to Bangalore on January 8, 1999, a B-737-4Q8 suffers a complete electrical failure. Using its reserve system, the little Boeing is able to make a safe emergency landing at Bhopal. Such incidents are, reportedly, rare.
Parvez Damania, former CEO of the defunct Damania Airlines, Ltd., becomes the new commercial director on March 15. He announces that Sahara will soon wear a “human face” and offer additional price breaks and improved service in an effort to gain market share.
A fare war is started by Sahara on April 1 over the lucrative Delhi to Bombay route. Sahara offers thrice-daily service compared to Indian Airline, Ltd.’s 10 flights, but all are deep-discount, no frills. Fares are cut by 15%-20% in hopes that greater passenger loads will bring profits. Jet Airways, Ltd., which operates eight flights either way between the two cities, is forced to join in.
The problems of the nation’s airlines take a back seat when, on April 16, the Hindu-nationalist government of Prime Minister Vajpayee loses a vote of confidence in parliament and collapses. Still, The Times of India reports in this day’s issue that, to compete with Jet Airways, Ltd. and Sahara in the fare war, the contest may be spread as Indian Airlines, Ltd. pumps additional capacity onto the routes from Bombay to both Chennai and Bangalore.
Operations Manager Capt. Sandhu and his team travel to Seattle where, in a brief April 28 ceremony, they take delivery of the airline’s first Next Generation B-737-B-737-73A, which is leased from Ansett Worldwide Aviation Services. The return to India will be completed by May 3. After workup, the brand new jetliner will be placed on routes connecting New Delhi to Bombay, Lucknow, and Chennai.
Having fallen ill, Ramji Singh, Sahara’s security supervisor, is taken to the Danapur military hospital on May 13 and dies in the course of treatment. A former Army subedar, Singh is cremated at the army facility the next day in the presence of his family and Sahara staff.
Later in the day, the press begins to receive phone calls from security personnel at an unnamed competitor. The anonymous informers allege that Singh had taken poison to commit suicide over management highhandedness. Airline and police officers deny any suicide and note that the military hospital had not performed a post mortem of the body because no suspicions had existed. Still, company public relations are not helped when the newspapers print stories suggesting that a mystery surrounds the staff member’s death.
Indian Airways, Ltd. refuses to engage in the upgrades of its rivals and continues to push its new shuttle service and to stress “on-time” performance. The May 18 issue of The Times of India reports that Sahara is now offering a five-star bed-and-breakfast add-on with tickets purchased for Bombay and Chennai, while Jet Airways, Ltd., having linked up with ITC hotels, offers domestic passengers a 20% discount on overnight accommodations.
Two days later, on May 20, the Ministry of Civil Aviation again warns domestic airlines that they will have to depart busy trunk routes unless they maintain a minimum five-aircraft fleet. If a fleet falls below that level and is not restored within six months, the ministry will change the status of the offender from scheduled to nonscheduled operator. With only four planes in operation, Sahara appears to be in some danger; however, company officials quickly assure the media that the required fifth plane will soon be flying.
Director Damania grants a lengthy interview to The Times of India on May 26 in which he reviews his strategy, the competition Sahara faces in the market, and prospects for the future.
Having changed the name of Sahara India Airlines, Ltd. to Sahara Airlines, Ltd. early in 2000, President S. Roy Sahara finds that a smaller company had already been established in Algeria under the name Sahara Airlines, S. A. Consequently, the company is again renamed in October.
SAHEL AVIATION SERVICE, S. A.: Bamako, BP 3272, Mali; Phone 223 229826; Fax 223 223345; Year Founded 1989. Sahel is established at Bamako in 1989 to offer executive and small group passenger charters and air taxi flights.
By 2000, the workforce includes two part-time and full-time pilots. Services are offered with a fleet that includes 1 each Beech Super King Air 200 and Cessna 208 Caravan I, plus 2 Cessna 402s.
SAHSA (SERVICIO AEREO DE HONDURAS, S. A.): Honduras (1944-1994). Taking 40% shareholding, Pan American Airways (PAA) forms SAHSA on November 16, 1944 in order to offer competition to the Lowell Yerex subsidiary Compania Nacional TACA de Honduras, S. A. After acquiring a DC-3 during the summer of 1945, the company begins service on October 22 over domestic routes. Routes are stretched to Puerto Barrios and Guatemala City, but must be withdrawn when it is discovered that the appropriate permits have not been obtained.
Flights are begun with Douglas transports to San Salvador and Belize City in March 1949.
TACAde Honduras, S. A. is purchased in 1953, but is initially allowed to operate under its previous identity until integration is completed the following year. In 1954-1955, both via the TACA integration and on its own, SAHSA places two Curtiss C-46 Commando freighters into service. Business continues apace during the remainder of the year and through 1956.
On April 5, 1957, Pan American World Airways (1) reduces its shareholding to 38%. Controlling interest (75%) is now taken in the liquor-flying air transport company ANHSA (Aerovias Nacionales de
Honduras, S. A.). The affiliate assumes no new duties, while the larger airline concentrates on the provision of flights to capital cities throughout Central America.
A DC-3 with three crew and nine passengers is lost near Juticalpa, Honduras, on August 29; there are no survivors.
Service continues without incident in 1958, but on January 6, 1959, a chartered DC-3 with three crew and two passengers crashes into Pena Blanca Mountain in Guatemala; there are no survivors.
Two more C-46s are acquired in June 1960.
While landing at Tegucigalpa, Honduras, on June 7, 1962, the undercarriage of a C-46A with two crew collapses; the aircraft is damaged beyond repair, but neither flyer is hurt.
The U. S. CAB grants its permission for a route to New Orleans, beginning in 1964. Start-up will be delayed. The fleet in 1965 comprises 2 Curtiss C-46s, 4 C-47s, and 1 DC-6B as service finally begins to New Orleans. Airline employment is 240 and enplanements total 168,516.
Unable to halt after landing at Tegucigalpa on February 20, 1967, following the completion of a service from San Pedro Sula, Flight 203, a DC-6 with 5 crew and 50 passengers, continues off the runway and into a ditch (4 dead).
During the late 1960s, the carrier comes under intense competitive pressure from its Honduran rival TAN (Transportes Aereas Na-cionales, S. A.). At the end of 1968, two Lockheed L-188Cs are acquired from Eastern Air Lines.
The most exciting incident of the period is a September 13, 1969 hijacking, during which a DC-3, on a domestic flight from La Ceiba to Tegucigalpa with 35 aboard, is taken over by a passenger, who forces it to divert to El Salvador. There the skyjacker is arrested.
A DC-3 with 3 crew and 15 passengers is destroyed as the result of a bad landing at Tegucigalpa on November 25; there are no fatalities.
Pan Am sells its last 38% interest in SAHSA to TAN (Transportes Aereos Nacionales, S. A.) on January 21, 1970; the shareholding leads to a close relationship between the nation’s two major airlines.
The two Lockheed L-188Cs continue to supplant the DC-3s and are flagships of the fleet until the introduction of the carrier’s first jetliner, a Boeing 737-2K6, in October 1974.
During the late 1970s and early 1980s, the fleet comes to comprise the passenger B-737-2K6, a Boeing 727-100, and a pair of DC-3s. The two Electras are converted into L-188CF freighters. Houston is added to the international route network.
Shareholding in ANHSA is upgraded to 95% in 1980; provided with a de Havilland Canada DHC-7 and SAHSA’s two DC-3s, the subsidiary is given most of SAHSA’s scheduled domestic and cargo network.
Having arrived at La Aurora from Guatemala City on a January 8, 1981 scheduled flight with one engine out, the six-man crew of an L-188CF departs to ferry the aircraft to Honduras for repairs. Just after departure, the turboprop experiences a complete loss of power and crashes into houses 1 mi. W of the runway. Although there are no survivors from the aircraft, there are no injuries to anyone on the ground in the impact area.
Flight 414, the B-727-81 with 87 aboard and en route from Tegucigalpa to San Pedro Sula, is commandeered over Central America on March 27 by 5 Salvadoran leftist hijackers. The Boeing is forced to land at Managua, Nicaragua, where 38 persons are released and negotiations are opened. The next day, an accord is reached whereby Honduras will release 15 political prisoners to Panama, which agrees to retrieve them to Panama City. When the prisoners arrive on March 29, the SAHSA jetliner is flown there as well; the pirates free their remaining captives and surrender.
A bomb explodes in baggage being unloaded from a B-737-2K less than a quarter hour after its arrival at Managua from Tegucigalpa on February 13, 1982. The blast, which occurs on a conveyer belt, kills three baggage handlers and wounds four other people.
Five leftists hijack the B-737-2K6 on a domestic flight on April 28 and threaten to kill American Gregory Bascom unless $1-million ransom is paid and Honduras frees 52 political prisoners. The demands are lowered the next day and on May 1 the pirates free their 11 remaining captives and are allowed to take SAHSA’s Boeing 727-81 to Cuba.
Operations continue apace in 1983-1984. The DHC-7 is sold in 1985 and in 1986 ANHSA is absorbed and the jetliners are grounded. Only domestic and a few close regional routes are flown, with the two DC-3s and the Electra, in 1987.
In 1988, Capt. Roberto Figueroa is succeeded as general manager by Prof. V. C. Chinchilla and the two Boeing jetliners are reinstated. The company, which had stopped reporting statistics, now resumes, albeit for only the first six months of the year. These show a decline of 15.2% in passenger boardings over the same period a year earlier to 155,780, but freight traffic is up by 13.5% to 541,000 FTKs.
In 1989, control is purchased by TAN; however, the two airlines integrate under the single title TAN-SAHSA Airlines, S. A. Leonel Lopez is named general manager and the B-727-81 is sold.
The fleet in 1990 includes 1 owned Boeing 737-2A3 and 1 L-188CF Electra plus 1 leased B-737-212A and three chartered B-737-4YOs.
A DC-3 with 3 crew and 29 passengers overruns the runway while landing at Roatan Island, Honduras, on March 18 and ends up in the ocean; there are no fatalities.
The leased B-737-4YOs are returned in 1991 and the B-737-2A3 is taken out of service. TAN and SAHSA officially merge on November 1, with the SAHSA moniker retained. The new airline now sells 41% interest to TACA International Airlines, S. A.
Airline employment in 1992 stands at 600 and the fleet of President Gen. Oswaldo Lopez Arellano and General Manager Leonel Lopez is greatly expanded. The B-737-2A3 is returned as the Lockheed freighter is withdrawn. Charters are arranged for one each B-737-214, B-737-217, and B-737-2K6A, plus two B-737-2H6As. Completely refurbished, the carrier’s last operational DC-3 is returned to service in October, being employed on ad hoc passenger charters.
The B-737-214 and B-737-2K6A are retired in 1993. Destinations visited from Tegucigalpa include San Pedro Sula, La Ceiba, Roatan Island, Belize City, Miami, Houston, New Orleans. Service is started to Grand Cayman Island.
Just after landing at Managua from a July 18 Tegucigalpa service, Flight 415, a B-737-2H6 with 6 crew and 88 passengers, skids off the right side of the runway in a rain storm, losing its nosegear and both engines and coming to a stop 200 ft. off the pavement. Although the aircraft is damaged beyond repair, there are no fatalities.
As the result of insurance problems, the company grounds its entire fleet on January 15, 1994. Although a leased TACA International Airlines, S. A. B-737-2H6A is briefly employed, the carrier never again operates its own aircraft, choosing instead to be submerged into TACA Group.
SAIDE (SERVICES AERIENS INTERNATIONAUX D’EGYPTE, S. A.E.): Egypt (1947-1952). This joint-venture Egyptian-Italian concern is based at Cairo in 1947 to provide nonscheduled services to Italy and Lebanon, Libya, and Tunisia. The Egyptian partners hold the majority of the shares (55%), with the Italians, including Fiat, the remainder. Misr Bank provides ?E250,000 start-up capital, later increased to ?E400,000.
H. E. Ilhamy is named chairman/managing director. Fiat provides 3 of its Fiat G-212s, plus 3 Savoia Marchetti SM-95s. These are employed to begin passenger and cargo routes from Cairo to Alexandria, Athens, and Rome.
A large number of Curtiss C-46 Commando freighters (eventually upwards of 10) become available from war-surplus stocks in Italy. They replace the older Italian equipment beginning in 1948.
A summer return route is started to Paris in 1949, followed by a year-round roundtrip service from Cairo to Tripoli via Benghazi.
During the summer of 1950, Milan joins Paris on the seasonal route network. Alexandria is replaced on the North African run, which is instead irregularly extended from Tripoli to Tunis. During the fall, after the European route again ends, the route from Cairo to Tunis via Benghazi and Tripoli becomes weekly.
The company continues to expand in 1951, competing with the national airline, Misrair, S. A.E. (1). On April 15, SAIDE resumes flights to Europe, pushing its Rome route on to Munich via Milan, once a week. The services from Cairo to Rome via Alexandria and Athens, become twice-weekly roundtrips, as do those from Cairo to Tunis.
Thrice-weekly roundtrips are inaugurated on May 1, 1952, between Cairo and Beirut. The company is acquired by the Egyptian flag carrier Misrair, S. A.E. (1) on December 1.