Airline's demise has led to flurry of activity in passenger charter and cargo markets

Several new Swiss airlines are seeking to fill the niche left by the demise of Swissair group, operating in the short- and long- haul passenger charter and cargo markets.

Odette Airways has been formed by the company of the same name which operates two Douglas DC-3s on nostalgia flights under the Classic Air banner. The airline recently began operating an ex-Crossair Boeing MD-83 from Zurich on charter flights to Balkan destinations, including Ohrid, Pristina and Skopje.

The airline is looking for a second MD-80 to expand. In the meantime, Odette is sub-chartering aircraft from other airlines, with a new Belair (formerly Balair) Boeing 767-300ER being flown to Skopje.

Cargo start-up Catran (short for CargoTrans) plans to launch services from Basle-Mulhouse by the end of September using two ex-FedEx Express MD-11 freighters on routes previously served by Swisscargo (through Gemini Air Cargo), the defunct cargo arm of Swissair.

Switzerland's two biggest freight forwarders, Danzas and Panalpina, are based in Basle and the demise of Swissair and its Swisscargo arm has left a vacuum in the cargo shipping business, with freight having to be trucked by road to other European hubs. Staffed mainly by former Swissair, Swisscargo and Cargologic employees, Cartran's initial destinations will include Chicago, Hong Kong and Seoul. It is also eyeing non-Swisscargo destinations such as Johannesburg and Shanghai.

Meanwhile, long-haul start-up Air Switzerland plans to acquire two secondhand Airbus A340-300s to be operated from August on charters to Bangkok, Cape Town, Dubai, Hong Kong, Las Vegas and Singapore.

The airline has also taken over the assets of bankrupt regional Swisswings, including its Fairchild Dornier 328 turboprops, which will be used on regional services.

Source: Flight International