Press analyses Swissair failure

Newspapers bid farewell to Swissair

Swissair's demise dominated the headlines of the country's main newspapers on Tuesday. Most editorials put the blame for the airline's failure squarely on the shoulders of the company's former administrators.

This content was published on October 2, 2001 - 12:42

Many writers emphasised that Swissair's end is also the end of a national symbol. Both Bern's Bund and the French-language daily Le Temps speak of the end of a dream, the end of an airline close to every citizen's heart.

The Bund said customers' feelings for the new company would be less tinged with national pride. Le Temps also notes that Swissair was the symbol of Switzerland's economic expansion over the last 50 years.

The Tribune de Genève pointed out that Swiss pride has taken a beating with the disappearance of Swissair. The newspaper said those responsible for the company's woes should be called to task, as you can't get away with killing the symbol of a nation.

Failed strategy

Nearly everyone agreed that the fault lies with Swissair's expansion strategy, and many writers mentioned former CEO Philipp Bruggisser.

For the Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ), the company's demise is the result of its unrealistic ambition of becoming a major European player, a disastrous plan that began with the purchase of a minority stake in Belgium's Sabena airlines.

Mario Corti, the man called in to save Swissair, did his best to avoid the collapse of the airline, but by then, it may have been too late.

The Basler Zeitung says it is difficult to talk about a Swissair strategy. According to the Basel daily, the carrier lacked a coherent strategy, unlike Crossair, which has positioned itself as a European regional airline.

Calling for accountability

Zurich's other main broadsheet, the Tages Anzeiger, suggests the names of two main culprits for the collapse, Bruggisser and another board member, Lukas Mühlemann, CEO of the Credit Suisse Group, and suggests both should be required to answer for their actions.

The blame game doesn't end with the company's board. The Zurich tabloid Blick says the economy and the banks are also responsible for Swissair's demise.

The Berner Zeitung adds the media to the list of culprits, saying that along with the economy and the banks, they prevented an alliance of Swissair with a foreign partner.

As to the future, Crossair is facing a rough start due to the current economic climate according to the Bern newspaper. But the state is right not to take a stake in the new company though, saving its resources to help those who have found themselves out of a job.

The NZZ editorialist says the bankers' solution to save part of the company is the best when governments in many countries are offering subsidies to their national carriers. The Bund believes the situation could have been far worse without the banks intervention, although many jobs are lost.

The Tages Anzeiger points out though the banks are getting a good deal. They are only buying the best part of the Swissair group, and at a bargain-basement price.

by Scott Capper

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