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8-10-2015, 15:40

CROSS SOUND COMMUTER: United States (1970-1974).

Established at Port Orchard, Washington, in 1970 to fly scheduled Brit-ten-Norman BN-2 Islander passenger and cargo services to Bremerton, Olympia, and Tacoma. A victim of the first large energy crisis, the commuter shuts its doors in 1974.

CROSSAIR, LTD. (COMPANY FOR REGIONAL EUROPEAN AIR TRANSPORT): Postfach, Basel, CH-4002, Switzerland; Phone 41 (61) 325-2525; Fax 41 (61) 325-3268; Code LX; Year Founded 1978. Founder Moritz Suter’s executive commuter company, Business Flyers Basel, Ltd. , is renamed Crossair, Ltd. on November 14, 1978. Financial backing is obtained from public and private sources, orders are placed for 8 Swearingen Metro IIs, and plans are made for the start of scheduled operations.

Revenue flights with the first Metro II and 2 Cessna 421s begin on July 2, 1979 over routes from Zurich to Nuremberg and Innsbruck.

Enplanements during the following six months reach 12,739. Profits are earned: $225,000 (operating) and $157,000 (net).

Airline employment is increased by 66.7% in 1980 to 40. As 2 additional Metroliners are added to the fleet, service is extended from Bern to Paris and from Geneva and Zurich to Hanover. In October, launch orders are placed for 5, later 10, SAAB-Fairchild SF340s.

By the close of the carrier’s first full year, passenger boardings have skyrocketed 283.7% to 48,879. Revenues of $7 million hold expenses of $6.1 million in line and allow an increased operating profit of $921,000. Net gain remains unchanged.

Additional regional stops are flown in 1981. Three more Metroliners are acquired. Destinations now served from Zurich include Luxembourg, Hanover, Nuremberg, Innsbruck, Klagenfurt, and Rotterdam. Also added is a service from Bern to Lugano.

Passenger boardings rise to 78,079 and a net profit of $42,500 is recorded.

The fleet in 1982 comprises 8 Metro IIIs and 1 Metro II; orders are outstanding for 10 SAAB-Fairchild SF340s and a final Metro III. After protracted negotiations, a five-year agreement is signed with Swissair, A. G. on February 12, defining the respective areas of activity for the two airlines. Flights by the 85-employee company begin to destinations in Holland, Belgium, and Luxembourg.

Passenger boardings soar 47.5% to 148,157 and freight traffic climbs to 49,000 pounds. A net profit of $442,000 is reported on total revenues of $18.5 million.

Airline employment is 130 in 1983. Basel-Paris and Dusseldorf service is undertaken on behalf of Swissair, A. G. and the lone Metro II is replaced by a Metro III.

Passenger bookings skyrocket 43.3% to 212,160.

The first SF340 is delivered in April 1984 and the launch customer places it into Basel-Paris service on June 15. This service replaces several Swissair, A. G. frequencies, but under an arrangement with the flag line, retains Swissair, A. G. flight numbers. The Metro IIIs are sold, but delays and engine problems slow 340 delivery, allowing only 2 more SAAB machines to be acquired during the year. To fill the gap, 3 Fokker F.27s, 1 Sud SE-210 Caravelle, and 2 DC-9-81s are leased.

Passenger boardings swell 35.1% to 286,681. Revenues decline 62% to $24.15 million and the net profit is off 32% to $895,233.

The payroll grows by 40% in 1985 to 280, even as SF340 delivery and technical problems persist. By year’s end, 8 aircraft are in service and the carrier begins selling off its Metro fleet. Meanwhile, new Basel and Nizza markets are opened. In November, the carrier sells 2 Metro IIIs to the new Spanish regionals Air Valencia, S. A. and Air Catalonia, S. A.

Passenger traffic rises 29.2% to 370,514 and freight skyrockets 83.1% to 216,000 FTKs. Revenues grow 30.6% to $49.2 million and expenses are up 26.9% to $39.3 million; profits are $9.83 million (operating) and $1.86 million (net).

Airline employment climbs again in 1986, up 1.3% to 350. The last 2 SF340s of the original order are delivered in March and the fleet now comprises all 10 SF340As plus 6 Metro IIIs. In May, the carrier flies its first service with an all-female crew. The Swissair, A. G. replacement agreement first initialed in 1983 is renewed on September 16. Destinations visited include Basel, Mulhouse, Geneva, Lugano, Agno, Luxembourg, and Zurich.

Customer bookings rise 2.2% to 472,158 and cargo increases an incredible 201.3% to 1.9 million FTKs.

The payroll is increased still further in 1987 by 28.6% to 450, and another Metro III is added. Passenger boardings jump 24.6% to 588,328.

The employee population grows by 21.3% in 1988 to 546 and all but 2 Metro IIIs are removed as 3 more SF340As join the fleet. Orders are placed for 19 340Bs plus 110 options.

On June 13, the shareholders’ assembly votes to allow Swissair, A. G. to acquire a 38.4% equity stake and 41% of the regional’s voting rights. In return, the national airline invests SFr 111 million. A new cooperative agreement is signed specifying closer collaboration in a number of fields.

Passenger boardings accelerate 29.3% to 760,744. In addition, 345,000 FTKs are transported.

Airline employment climbs 10.4% in 1989 to 603 as all of the Metros are replaced. The all-SAAB fleet now includes 19 340As and 5 340Bs. New routes are initiated from Lugano to Rome and from Bern to Brussels and Dusseldorf. In March, the company begins to offer five-times-per-week replacement service to Lyons and Ljubljana on behalf of Swissair, A. G.

Customer bookings ascend 19.4% to 909,023.

In January 1990, the company receives the “Regional Airline of the Year” award from Air Transport World magazine.

The fleet is now significantly increased. In addition to the acquisition of 3 more SAAB 340Bs, 1 Fokker 50 and the first of 3 British Aerospace BAe 146-200s, dubbed “Jumbolinos” and acquired from USAir, are placed into service. Four SAAB 340As are withdrawn and leased to the New Zealand carrier Air Nelson, Ltd. A SAAB 340A is lost in a ground accident at Zurich on February 21.

Flights begin to the Channel Islands and Barcelona in April; a total of 37 destinations are currently served in 10 nations. A financial state is taken in the Scottish regional Business Air, Ltd. and, in July, Crossair joins with Slovair to establish Tatra Air, A. G. at Bratislava.

Passenger boardings leap skyward by 18.4% to pass the million-mark for the first time at 1,076,591. On the downside, a $4.53-million net loss is suffered.

Two more SAAB 340As are withdrawn in 1991 to be succeeded by 7 340Bs and 14 Fokker 50s; 2 more ex-USAir BAe 146-200s also arrive. On March 13, Swissair, A. G. increases its equity stake to 48.5% and acquires a majority 59.9% of voting rights. Replacement flights for its new parent are undertaken to Bordeaux beginning on March 31. Also in March, weekly 340B flights begin from Zurich to Bristol, England, and London (STN).

In August, five-times-per-week BAe 146-200 flights are started from Basel to London (LHR). Also during the summer, a SAAB 340A is repainted to commemorate the 700th anniversary of the Swiss Federation; the color scheme by 10-year-old Giacomo Fiscalini has won top place in a design competition.

On October 27, President Moritz Suter’s company begins flying to Hanover and Nuremberg, again as replacement for Swissair, A. G. In November, the Swiss flag carrier transfers the route to Crossair completely. The same month, a BAe 146-300 “Jumboliner” is placed into service on the thrice-daily Basel-Paris route.

Customer bookings ascend 12% to 1,148,671 and 39.31 million FTKs are operated. The net loss grows to $7.48 million.

The workforce is increased by 6.8% in 1992 to 1,087 and the fleet now includes 3 BAe 146-200s, 1 BAe 146-300,5 Fokker 50s, 15 SAAB 340As, and 15 SAAB 340Bs. Orders are outstanding for 4 BAe 146200s and 4 BAe (AVRO) RJ85 Regional Jets. With an order for 20, the airline becomes launch customer for the SAAB 2000 Concordino; the carrier also becomes the first to operate a BAe 146 into London (LCY), beginning twice-daily flights from Zurich on March 30. Also during the first quarter, a BAe 146-200 is leased to Business Air, Ltd.

In April, Crossair sells its 40% shareholding in the German regional Delta Air Regionalflugverkkehr, GmbH. to British Airways, Ltd. (2) as the major seeks to maintain its entry in the German domestic market following termination of its 1945 Allied-grant rights. Having lost well over a million SFr and faced with nonpayment of the aircraft lease, the carrier now withdraws as one-third shareholder in Tatra Air, A. G. The SAAB 340A is reclaimed, repainted, and reenters Crossair service.

On May 4, SAAB 340A/B services are initiated from Zurich to Sion. Other new routes started during the year include Lugano to Munich and Basel to Vienna to London (LHR), Leipzig, and Dresden.

Passenger boardings jump 16% for the year to 1,335,484 and freight rises 23% to 48.17 million FTKs. Revenues are $214.17 million and expenses are only $189.02 million. As a result, operating profit, assisted by the Delta sale, surges to $25.14 million. The net gain of $745,800 is a significant turnaround.

In 1993, Chairman A. J. Wiederkehr and President/CEO Suter oversee a workforce of 1,175, up 8.1% over the previous year. The largest Swiss regional is now the largest of its size in Europe. Three SAAB 340As are leased to Business Air, Ltd., one to Deutsche BA Luftahrtgesellschaft, GmbH., and 4, out on lease to Air Nelson, Ltd., are sold to that airline for SFr 7.16 million. The first of 4 Avro RJ85 Regional Jets, the new name for the BAe 146 program transferred to the BAe-Taiwan Aerospace joint venture program, is delivered in April, giving the carrier cause to adopt a new corporate image, logo, and livery. New crew uniforms are also unveiled, along with an improved catering service.

Delivery of the world’s first production model SAAB 2000 Con-cordino, also a cause of celebration for its launch customer, must be delayed past the planned September 3 arrival. The manufacturer provides a free BAe 146-300 to provide capacity until its delayed product can be acquired.

During the 12 months, scheduled departures total 76,400 while, at year’s end, Swissair, A. G. participation is increased from 49.4% to 56.1% of share capital and from 52.6% to 59.8% of voting rights. Customer bookings swell 8.1% to 970,500 while cargo swells 19% to 57.17 million FTKs. Revenues advance 16% to $261.3 million while costs rise only 10.9% to $406.35 million. Consequently, the operating surplus is $28.84 million while the net profit skyrockets to $19.8 million.

Airline employment increases to 1,420 in 1994. On March 27, the company inaugurates a number of new routes. These include Zurich to Dublin, Birmingham, Ljubljana, and Hanover; Genf to Amsterdam, Berlin (Tempelhof Airport), Bilbao, Vienna, Barcelona, Genoa, Jersey, and Lorient; Lugano to Olbia; and Basel to Dresden, Leipzig, Vienna, Birmingham, and Nice. New Swissair replacement routes are Geneva to Berlin (Tempelhof Airport), Bilbao, Bordeaux, and Prague, and Zurich to Klagenfurt, Luxembourg, Ljubljana, Marseilles, and Strasbourg.

The highlight of the year is the August introduction into service of the first of 5 of the world’s first operational SAAB 2000s; it is christened Concordino (giving its name to the type in Crossair service) and begins flying from Basel to Paris (CDG). Two more of the advanced turboprops arrive in September and 2 in October. These replace SAABs on twice-weekly routes from Basel to Barcelona, Copenhagen, Madrid, and Rome, from Lugano to Paris, and from Bern to London’s City Airport. During the 12 months, scheduled departures increase to 83,300.

Late in the year, plans are made by Swissair, A. G. to turn over all of its less-than-100 seat operations to this subsidiary, as well as the aircraft and services formerly flown by Balair-CTA, S. A.

Passenger boardings accelerate another 13% to 1,864,093 while revenues increase 3.7% to $322.3 million. Net gain drops to $13.2 million.

During the last week of March 1995, Swissair, A. G. orders 12 Avro RJ100 Jumbolinos to be operated by Crossair on the less-than-100 seat services. Having entered into a block-seat code-sharing agreement with LOT Polish Airlines, S. A., Swissair, A. G. now turns to Crossair to implement it by flying a SAAB 2000 over a route from Zurich to Krakow.

Five more SAAB 2000 Concordinos are also requested. An RJ85 is reequipped with telephones in a year-long experiment for passengers; the plane is returned to service on June 1 on routes from Geneva to London (City Airport), Birmingham, and Dublin. When the main runway at Stuttgart Airport is down for repairs between July 31 and October 1, Crossair leases an RJ85 to Swissair, A. G., which will employ it to maintain services to the cross-runway of the German airport. It will also lease a BAe 146-200 to Deutsche BA Luftfahrtgesellschaft, GmbH. for the same purpose.

The small - and medium-haul routes and aircraft are taken over in September and operated from hubs at Geneva and Zurich with 10 transferred Swissair, A. G. Fokker 100s. They will gradually be withdrawn in trade to Avro as the RJ100 Jumbolinos begin to arrive at the end of the month. To celebrate the opening of the famed musical at Basel in October, the company’s 10th SAAB 2000 Concordino is now delivered in a special Phantom of the Opera livery.

During November, a cost cutting plan, WIN, prepared by McKinsey Consulting, is sent to arbitration by Swissair, A. G. and its pilots’ union Aeropers. If implemented, the concept will see an unspecified number of Swissair pilots transferred to Crossair, Ltd. In addition, 1,600 Balair/ CTA positions would be cut over the next several years and 300 ground workers will be laid off. Although executives from Swissair and Crossair, Ltd. all refuse to consider a group agreement covering cockpit crews from both companies, the mediator promises a solution by April.

Repainted in Crossair livery, 8 former Balair/CTA McDonnell-Douglas MD-82/83s arrive in late November and early December.

The new services allow Crossair to make significant traffic and financial gains. Customer bookings again jump 13%, rising to 2,109,542, while freight swells 28% to 81.58 million FTKs. Operating revenues climb 18% to $386 million and a net profit of $14.5 million, later adjusted downward to $12.57 million, is posted.

Airline employment stands at 6,586 in 1996 and the fleet grows to include 8 MD-82/83s, 11 RJ100 Jumbolinos, 4 RJ85s, 23 SAAB 2000 Concordinos, and 15 SAAB 340As. Two more SAAB 340As are chartered to Business Air, Ltd. and 1 MD-82 is leased to the Argentine charter operator Dinar Lineas Aereas, S. A.

During the first quarter, the carrier joins with the Swiss travel agency Hotelplan and McDonald’s Restaurants to begin operating charter flights. “McPlane,” an MD-83, is unveiled at the airline’s Zurich headquarters on March 27 in a gala celebration. Bright red, with the restaurant’s name painted in large letters along the fuselage at the window level and its logo on the tail, the plane will be employed to operate non-scheduled frequencies. Three days later, it begins flying from Zurich and Geneva to Mediterranean holiday destinations.

To better handle its rapid expansion, the company restructures its operations on April 1. Geneva and Western Europe are added as departments of the commercial and finance division and a whole new product management division is created, with three new departments — cargo/cabin crew, network management, and ground operations.

The company completes its takeover of the medium-haul charter flights of Balair-CTA, S. A. and the 100-seat scheduled operations of Swissair, A. G.

During the third week of May, a company SAAB 2000 Concordino begins three months testing of a head-up display provided by Flight Dynamics; the carrier is first to order a HUD for regional services.

The “McPlane” visits London (CTN) and Manchester in June in connection with the Euro ‘96 Football Championships. Meanwhile, 12 new destinations have been added during the first half, including a six-days-per-week RJ85 nonstop roundtrip service between Zurich and Edinburgh.

The final RJ100 Jumbolino is delivered in September. With the start of the winter schedule at the end of October, the carrier introduces two-class cabin in-flight service aboard its jetliners. Turboprop operations remain single-class.

The changeover brings significant growth in traffic and rewards. En-planements increase 53% to 3,228,591 and operating income surges 59% to $518.6 million. Net profit grows by $4 million to $16.6 million, a 32% increase.

The workforce is increased a slight 0.9% in 1997 to 2,301. At the end of January, Crossair joins with a group of French investors in taking the first steps toward the establishment of a French regional airline to be hubbed at the new Basel-Mulhouse EuroAirport. Actually located in France, the airport goes by the IATA MLH (Mulhouse) identifier for flights from its French side and BSL (Basel) for services from the Swiss side. Crossair takes a 35% holding in the FFr 260-million ($45-million) minimum share capital in the start-up and establishes a headquarters presence at the new airport.

If the tentatively named Europe Continental Airways, S. A. moves ahead, it will allow sufficient European Union links as to alleviate the carrier’s new Italian problem.

Deregulation for EU members begins on April 1 and Crossair’s need for free access to Italian skies becomes increasingly apparent. Because of resistance from the Italian authorities, the non-EU-member airline is required to withdraw its Lugano-Rome and its Lugano-Bologna services, and reduce frequencies between Lugano and Venice, Florence, and Naples. The airline also faces battles with the Portuguese and Greek authorities.

In May, the carrier takes over the turboprop routes from Zurich and Geneva to Stuttgart which Regional Airlines, S. A. had purchased from Deutsche BA Luftfahrtgesselschaft, GmbH. the previous year, but has elected not to fly itself.

The European Joint Aviation Authorities certifies Flight Dynamics Head-Up Guidance System for use aboard company SAAB 2000 Con-cordinos. The first unit is installed on August 5 and half of the SAAB 2000 fleet will be so equipped by year’s end.

In December, the company announces a significant expansion of its fleet, with orders, valued at SFr 262 million (US$179 million) placed for 4 Avro RJ100 Jumbolinos, 6 SAAB 2000 Concordinos, and 2 used MD-83s. The latter will be employed on scheduled services, as well as on-demand charters.

Passenger boardings accelerate 19% to 3,848,724, while freight surges 27% to 206.31 million FTKs. Net profits of SFr43.2 million ($29.4 million) are posted on revenues of SFr 883 million and are almost double those earned a year earlier.

Philippe Bruggisser is now chairman, with CEO Suter remaining in office. Their fleet at the beginning of 1998 includes 4 Avro RJ85s 12 RJ100s, 11 MD-80s, 16 SAAB 340s, and 28 SAAB 2000s.

Plans are announced in January for the construction of a new office building near its temporary headquarters at the Basel-Mulhouse EuroAirport. Crossair also announces plans to invest FFr 100 million in the expansion of EuroAirport and, in return, receives 9 proximity gates in the present terminal.

Europe Continental Airways, S. A. is now projected to begin service in April as Crossair Europe, S. A.; flights will be provided to Venice, Milan, and Marseilles.

Employing a pair of SAAB 340Bs leased from Crossair, Crossair Europe, S. A. launches thrice-daily roundtrip flights from the French side of EuroAirport on March 29 to Milan. Operating as a European Union company, the new entrant does not have the bilateral barriers and high landing fees to contend with as does Crossair. Commercial and technical coordination is maintained with the Swiss airline.

Plans are made to provide Director General Philip Perrin de Nelle’s company with a chartered MD-83 during the fall and to initiate frequencies to Rome (Ciampino Airport).

Employing the MD-83, wet-leased to Swissair, A. G., Crossair, on May 1, launches flights from Zurich on behalf of its parent to five East European destinations, including Baku, Samara, Yerevan, and Tbilisi. The return services are undertaken two to three times each week.

Joint operations simultaneously commence with PGA Portugalia Airlines, S. A. over a route from EuroAirport to Lisbon.

Wet-leased Crossair MD-80s undertake Swissair replacement service on May 1 from Zurich to both Nice and to Berlin (Tegel Airport).

Beginning on May 2, Delta Air Lines places its code on the daily roundtrip Avroliner service which Crossair operates between Zurich and Riga, Latvia.

During the month, the company joins with Lufthansa CityLine, A. G. to launch the Fairchild Dornier 728JET, with deliveries set for 2001.

In late September, Swissair, A. G. upsets the Crossair expansion plans by purchasing a 44% equity stake in the French regional Air Littoral, S. A. Crossair had hoped to move into France and southern Europe via its Crossair Europe, S. A. affiliate.

During the month and on October 28, a number of new services are launched. Employing an Avro RJ85, daily roundtrips commence from

Basel to Stockholm and from Zurich to Goteborg. In addition, a midday service is added between Basel and Valencia and the Zurich to London (LCY) route is operated four-times-a-day.

The twice-weekly MD-83 return service from Zurich to Samara, Russia, ends on October 25 and the aircraft is transferred to a service from Zurich to Larnaca, Cyprus.

A long-haul MD-82/83 charter program is introduced, also on October 28. The most successful enterprise is a weekly roundtrip from Zurich to Goa, India, with a technical refueling stop at Tehran. Flights from Zurich to Pristina, Kosovo, will prove short-lived due to the political situation in the Yugoslav province.

In an effort to draw attention to Switzerland’s bid for the 2006 Winter Olympics, a SAAB 2000 is introduced into service in November wearing a special winter sports livery, comprised of little red silhouettes of sportsmen (skiers, ice skaters, hockey players, etc.) dotting its white fuselage. “Valais,” the name of the French-speaking canton where the games would be held, appears in white under a white mountain logo on the red tail.

Swissair strategic alliance partner Delta Air Lines begins to codeshare on December 1 on Crossair’s daily SAAB 2000 service from Zurich to Krakow, Poland.

Enplanements for the 12 months advance by 14.5% to 5,397,248. Revenues advance to SFr 1.01 billion ($674.61 million) and net gain surges 47% to SFr 63.5 million ($42.24 million).

Crossair receives its 14th Avro RJ100 from British Aerospace on January 4, 1999, wearing the new EuroCross livery of a blue and red ball incorporating the European Union logo on one side of its fuselage. The aircraft is assigned to Crossair Europe, S. A. and enters service two days later, replacing a SAAB 2000 on the route from Basel to Stockholm.

An early morning RJ100 roundtrip is inaugurated on February 22 from London (LCY) to Zurich; there are now five daily return services over this route. At this time, Crossair becomes a member of the Swissair, A. G.-led “QualiFlyer” alliance.

The winter charter service between Zurich and Pristina, Kosovo, ends just as NATO begins its aerial bombing campaign against Yugoslavia on March 24.

As is the case with other airlines across Europe, the summer schedule begins on March 28. Seasonal MD-83 nonstop roundtrips are now offered every day from Zurich to Thessaloniki, Greece. Simultaneously, MD-83s replace RJ100s on flights from Basel to London (LHR), while the RJ100s offer a new weekly roundtrip from Zurich to Birmingham. Nonstop MD-83 roundtrip service is also inaugurated from Zurich to both Dublin and Goteborg, five times a week.

At the beginning of April, daily scheduled flights are resumed between Zurich and Klagenfurt, Austria.

Plans are now announced by SAirGroup for the creation of a large European Leisure Group, which will include not only LTU International Airways, GmbH., but the Swissair, A. G. subsidiary Balair/CTA; Sabena Belgian World Airlines, S. A.’s subsidiary Sobelair, S. A.; Crossair, Ltd.; Air Europe, S. p.A., and Volare, S. p.A. The new arrangement, under the direction of project leader Stefan Helsing, is designed to be part of an integrated network built around the already-existing “Atlantic Excellence” and “QualiFlyer” alliances.

During the summer, an MD-83 is wet-leased to Flugfelag Islands (2)/Icelandair, H. F., which employs the aircraft on a weekly seasonal service from Reykjavik to Zurich.

When British Airways, Ltd. (2) gives up its London (LHR) to Basel service in late October, Crossair, in partnership with the British major, takes it over with MD-83s. Flights from Zurich to Pristina, suspended during the Kosovo crisis, resume on October 31.

Also during October, an MD-83, operated on behalf of Dusseldorf-based Consul Weltreisen, offers a luxury tour to Xian in China via Muscat, Hong Kong, Siem Reap, Langkawi, Chiang Mdi, and Shanghai.

Nine company aircraft are damaged by wind-driven equipment and cargo containers when fierce winter winds with gusts of more than 100 mph. hit the airports at Zurich, Stuttgart, and Copenhagen during Christmas week,

Although customer bookings climb 11.1% to 5,997,000 this year, many in the company believe that European ATC delays and higher fuel costs have hurt market share, to say nothing of revenues. Operating income moves ahead by 14.8% to $728,977,000, but expenses are up 18.2% to $682,816,000. The previous year’s operating profit falls to $46,161,000 while net gain drops to $33,070,000.

Having just turned around at Zurich after a January 20, 2000, flight from Guernsey, Flight 498, a SAAB 340B with three crew (including a captain temporarily seconded to the carrier from Moldavian Airlines) and seven passengers, departs for Dresden. Following some confusion over direction, the turboprop increases speed and then enters into a high-speed spiral descent, crashing into an open field near Nassenwil. There are no survivors.

Now in its 21st year of scheduled service, on February 26 Europe’s largest regional takes delivery of the first of 7 Embraer ERJ-145s—all in the company’s new twenty-fifth anniversary livery. Upon its arrival at Basel on March 4, the Express Jet is greeted in ceremonies as the premier unit of the massive fleet replacement program that will see all of the current SAAB and AVRO RJs withdrawn by 2006. The same day, the MD-83 previously painted in the red McDonald’s color scheme is returned to service, also wearing the company’s new livery.

With the beginning of the summer schedule on March 26, Swissair, A. G., in a move to cut costs and increase services, transfers the bulk of its Geneva-based services to Crossair. The smaller carrier’s McDonnell Douglases now visit Athens, Madrid, Rome, and Lisbon. At the same time, Basel is dropped as a stop on the Zurich to Dresden and Prague route, while twice-daily return flights from Geneva to Toulouse and Marseilles are now operated as a code-share aboard Air Engiadina, Ltd. Dornier 328-110s. Plans to start new service from Basel to Helsinki are postponed for a year, along with increased frequencies from Basel to Madrid and Cologne.

On the same day, the company’s new ERJ-145s enter revenue service on routes from Basel to Manchester, Madrid, Birmingham, Copenhagen, Oslo, Hamburg, and Valencia. Employing one of the Swiss carrier’s MD-80s, Aer Lingus Irish Airlines, Ltd. also begins to code-share on daily Crossair return flights between Zurich and Dublin.

Swiss voters, on May 21, approve a referendum that permits implementation of a bilateral treaty establishing closer ties between the historically neutral country and the European Union. As a result, the airlines of SAirGroup, including Crossair, will, in three steps, gain the same rights as carriers from EU nations.

As Crossair continues to eliminate its SAAB 340A fleet, lease arrangements are completed by June with Carpatair, the regional subsidiary of Moldavian Airlines, for a pair of the Swedish-built turboprops.

In mid-August, the carrier reports that, for the first time since 1992, it has experienced a financial downturn in the first half-year. The $3.5-million loss is blamed on high fuel costs and an unfavorable exchange rate with the U. S. dollar.

Reacting to these negative figures, company officials, at the carrier’s annual meeting, inform shareholders that the company’s route network will be adjusted and fares will be increased to offset rising fuel costs. This attempt to increase earnings by CHF 50 million may also lead to layoffs.

At Kos on October 26, Olympic Airways, S. A. baggage handler Manolis Lambros, who has entered the cargo hold of a company MD-83 to stow a caged dog, is accidentally locked in by coworkers. The young man survives the following 15-min. flight to Rhodes, where he is discovered in shock and shivering, but otherwise unhurt.

With the beginning of the winter schedule on October 29, frequencies are reduced from Basel to Alicante, Malaga, Munich, and Venice, as well as between Lugano and Rome and suspended altogether between Basle and Nuremberg.