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Way clear for "swiss" to take to the skies

The new airline has been cleared for take-off Keystone

A tribunal in Zurich has thrown out a legal challenge by the collapsed SAirGroup to prevent its former regional subsidiary Crossair from using the new name "swiss".

This content was published on March 5, 2002 - 15:25

The decision clears the way for the new national carrier, built around Crossair, to be launched as "swiss" on March 31.

The ruling follows last week's surprise move by the defunct SAirGroup to challenge the use of the name.

The tribunal said on Tuesday that there was no risk of confusion between the names "swiss" and "Swissair", stating that they were clearly different. The court also ruled that it was "natural" that the new airline should carry the familiar Swiss white cross on its tail.

"We expected this victory," Crossair spokesman Markus Baumgartner told swissinfo. "We are relieved and glad about this decision. It means that we can start as 'swiss' on April 1."

SAirGroup had sought to prevent the name being used on the grounds that Crossair had decided not to buy the Swissair brand in the wake of that airline's collapse. The brand was valued at SFr660 million ($388 million) in November last year.

SAirGroup also claimed that Crossair had been unwilling to reach an amicable settlement in the wake of the Swissair collapse.

SAirGroup has the option of taking the case to a higher court, but could not be reached for comment.

Acting in creditor interest

The action was viewed as a bid by Swissair and its court-appointed administrator to demonstrate they are acting in the best interest of creditors.

SAirGroup, Swissair's parent company, filed for creditor protection last October when it collapsed under the weight of its debts and in the wake of a drop in traffic after the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.

The government and many Swiss businesses came together with a SFr2.7 billion recapitalisation of Crossair, with the state also putting up a further SFr1 billion to keep part of Swissair in the air until the end of this month, when "swiss" is due to take over.

Option to buy

SAirGroup said that under an original agreement with big banks, UBS and Credit Suisse, it had provided Crossair with an option to buy the Swissair brand.

UBS and Credit Suisse had bought Swissair's 70 per cent stake in Crossair as a first step in a national rescue package known as "Phoenix".

Early last month, Crossair revealed it would trade under the "swiss" brand name and change its official company name to Swiss Airlines Ltd later this year. Its aircraft are set to carry a red colour scheme and have the familiar Swiss white cross on the tail.

The Swissair group saw this as a clear attempt to transfer as much as possible of the positive image attached to Swissair to the new "swiss" airline, without having to pay for the Swissair brand.

The court-appointed administrator of the Swissair group, Karl Wüthrich, said on Friday that creditors had "an interest in realising the assets on the best possible terms".

Crossair vigorously rejected any demand from the Swissair group for financial compensation.

swissinfo with agencies

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