Swissair sale enjoys flying start

Items on sale ranged from top champagnes to in-flight safety seats

Thousands of eager shoppers have been flocking to a suburb in Zurich for a slice of Swiss aviation history.

This content was published on October 17, 2002 - 17:58

Despite bad weather, long queues gathered in Bassersdorf as items from Switzerland's former national airline, Swissair, went on sale.

Swissair itself may have collapsed but the opening day of the company's liguidation sale suggests that domestic interest in the brand remains strong.

"I once worked for Swissair, and so I'm here out of nostalgia really," one laden-down shopper told swissinfo.

"I always wanted to fly for Swissair," said one newly-trained flight attendant, "but of course that won't be possible now. Still, this is helping me to fill up my new house, even if the items aren't that cheap!"

Sentimental value

Of course, one man's bargain is another man's extravagance and many of the goods on sale reflect not just their material worth but also the sentimental value of the Swissair brand.

While top quality champagnes and wines can be purchased at knock-down rates, other items such as mechanics' jackets at SFr65 ($43) each, non-closable sleeping bags at SFr160 ($106) or safety instruction sheets (at a more modest SFr1 apiece) seem to be firmly marketed at Swissair fanatics.

"We have considered the historical importance of Swissair a little in our pricing," admits Peter Schneiter of the company's liquidation task force. "But all the money we make goes directly to the Swissair creditors, so we had to consider them as well as the people who are buying.

"High quality"

"I think some of the items here could certainly be seen as an investment," Schneiter added. "Many are of very high quality and some have never been used, so I don't have any bad feelings about the prices."

Standing at the sale's crowded entrance, administrator Filippo Beck told swissinfo he was more than happy with the opening day's trade.

"I think it's going very well," he said, "and we hope to make a few million francs from this sale. But the airline side of the company alone is facing demands from its creditors of some SFr400 million, so of course the possible income from the sale is very small compared to that."

Swissair fans who couldn't make it along to the opening day need not fret. With a total of 720,000 porcelain plates, 1,960,000 pieces of cutlery, 380,000 glasses and 160,000 miniature drinks bottles to shift, the sale is expected to run for several weeks.

swissinfo, Mark Ledsom in Zurich

Swissair sale

The Swissair liquidation sale is made up of items belonging to the former national airline, which collapsed in April with debts of more than SFr12.5 ($8.36 billion).

The revenue from the sale will go towards paying some of the money owed to the company's creditors.

The sale is expected to last for several weeks.

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swissair sale facts

The liquidation sale is expected to fetch SFr10 million.
Some two million pieces of cutlery are up for grabs, along with 160,000 minature drinks bottles.
Eager buyers started queuing at 0400, and guards had to restrain crowds.

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