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swiss air jet

Swissair profile

Airline has reputation for safety, efficiency

From CNNfn Correspondent Tom Bogdanowicz

(CNN) -- The Swissair crash off Nova Scotia was the first in 19 years for the airline, which has had a reputation for safety and efficiency.

A relatively small carrier, Swissair is an up market airline with 63 planes flying to 78 countries. It is part of the larger Sair Group, which also owns Airline Crossair, a large stake in Belgium's Sabena and catering and maintenance businesses.

Sixty-seven-year-old Swissair is a member of the Atlantic Excellence Code-Sharing Alliance, which includes the U.S.-based Delta Air Lines, Austrian Airlines and Sabena.

see also
List of fatal crashes in Swissair's history

The alliance flies about 40 million passengers a year, making it the fourth biggest group in the world. Swissair flies about a quarter of those passengers.

Before Wednesday night's crash off Nova Scotia, there had been four fatal Swissair incidents in 50 years.

In 1979, a DC-8 overran a runway in Athens, killing 14 passengers. Terrorist sabotage destroyed a Swissair plane in 1970, killing nine crew members and 38 passengers. In 1963, a brake fire on a Swissair Caravelle led to the deaths of 80 crew members and passengers. A DC-3 crash in 1957 killed nine crew members.

Airline industry analysts said Wednesday's crash, which killed 229 people, should not harm the airline over the long-term.

"On the basis that Swissair has got a very good maintenance record and has got a very good safety record, I don't think that this is going to be a long-term problem for them," said James Halstead, an airline analyst with Cheuvreux de Virieu. "In the short-run, I'm sure there's going to be some concerns."

However, the Sair Group should be able to deal with any short-term problems. Its profits increased sharply in the first half of this year, and analysts say efficiency at the airline has improved.

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