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Encyclopedia > Qualiflyer

Qualifler was the name of Swissair frequent flyer program created in April of 1992. When Swissair began acquiring stakes in other European airlines in 1998, Qualiflyer was extended to become their frequent-flyer programs as well. This spawned the alliance known as The Qualiflyer Group. When Swissair collapsed in 2002, the group dissolved along with the program and a company was formed to give each former member airline an individual frequent-flyer program.

Contents

Beginnings

Qualiflyer was formed in April of 1992 as Europe's first frequent-flyer program for Swissair. Originally, Swissair's partner airline Crossair and its world-renowned hotel chain Swissotel also participated in the program. As one would expect, Qualiflyer's affiliation to one of the world-class airlines caused membership to skyrocket, going from zero to 2,000,000 members in the first eight years. After that, other airlines joined in the program, and the program received even larger amounts of membership.


TheQualiflyer Group

In 1998, Swissair, one of the more conservative European airlines, decided to have a hand at expansion. Instead of doing this by joining one of the new airlines alliances, (Star, SkyTeam and oneworld having just formed) it decided to this by acquiring minority stakes in several airlines. (For more information, see the Swissair article.) Among these were Sabena, TAP Air Portugal, Air Europe, and LOT Polish Airlines. These airlines all came to participate in the Qualiflyer program. So naturally, Swissair's new group was appropriately called The Qualiflyer Group. This group would ultimately be a contributing factor in Swissair's demise. Swissair MD-11 Swissair, short for Swiss Air Transport Company Limited, was Switzerlands national airline for 71 years (1931–2002), established when the airlines Belair and Ad Astra Aero (To the Stars) merged. ... SABENA was the former national airline of Belgium, which mainly operated from Brussels National Airport and has now been replaced by SN Brussels Airlines. ... Categories: Organization stubs | Airlines of Portugal ... Air Europe is an airline, started in 1978 and once based at London Gatwick Airport. ... Polskie Linie Lotnicze LOT is an airline based in Poland. ...


Qualiflyer and Swissair's demise

When Swissair had purchased its stakes in The Qualiflyer Group's airlines, it had unknowingly begun its path to bankruptcy. Firstly, the acquisitions had been costly and many of The Qualiflyer Group's airlines had been financial losers. Sabena, arguably The Qualiflyer Group's biggest member (behind Swissair) had only made a profit once in its entire history. Since it was a partial subsidiary of Swissair, Swissair was forced to make up for its losses. None of this helped the already financially-strapped Swissair. Keeping all of the group's members happy was a difficult and costly matter. Secondly, many of The Qualiflyer Group's airlines' managements didn't use the money they were given for its purposes. Also, Swissair demanded that its subsidiaries operate Airbus fleets, and it was, therefore, required to pitch-in for these fleet makeovers. All of these factors mixed at precisely the wrong time, around September 11, 2001. These things coupled with the downturn in air travel demand severely hurt Swissair and caused it to produce even more losses. By that time the next summer, Swissair would be grounded and that would spell the beginning of the end for Qualiflyer. When Swissair passed out of existence and Crossair took over, Loyalty Gate Ltd., formally Qualiflyer Loyalty Ltd., created three new programs: Swiss TravelClub (now replaced by Lufthansa Miles & More), Privlege for Sabena's successor SN Brussels Airlines, and Navigator for TAP Portugal.


The Qualiflyer Group's logo and liveries

The Qualiflyer group had a logo that resembled a blue globe surrounded by to swooping arms. The entire globe was encircled by ten stars symbolizing the ten member airlines. Airlines participating in the group were required to fly airplanes with a rather large Qualiflyer logo sticker applied. Swissair and Sabena principally had several airplanes painted with a blue underbelly with "The Qualiflyer Group" titles applied near the nose.


 
 

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