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Austrian Airlines
March 28, 2008

31st of March 2008 sees domestic carrier celebrate half-a-century since being founded

Almost 90 years ago, on 1 April 1918, the world’s first regular international airmail carrier opened for business, plying the route from Vienna to Kiev via Cracow and L’viv. Five years later, on 14 May 1923, the conceptual predecessor to Austrian Airlines, ÖLAG or Österreichische Luftverkehrs A.G., began flight operations. The company was to become one of the leading European carriers in the 1930s. 

Austria’s regaining of sovereignty over its domestic airspace after the signing of the State Treaty in 1955 made possible the founding of two separate airlines, ‘Air Austria’ and ‘Austrian Airways’. Neither of the newly-founded companies was destined to launch flight operations, however, and on 4 April 1957 the two were merged to form a single airline – Austrian Airlines. On 31 March 1958, a Vickers Viscount 779 bearing flight number OS 201 took off from Vienna to London. Commercial scheduled air services operated by Austrian Airlines had begun. 

This maiden flight from Vienna to London was soon followed by the launching of further scheduled services to Frankfurt, Zurich, Stuttgart, Paris, Rome and Warsaw in the first year of operation. The Austrian Airlines Group now carries its passengers to 130 destinations around the world. Where the company transported 25,567 passengers and 186 tons of cargo in 1958, it carried 10.8 million passengers and 150,335 tons of cargo in 2007. 

Austrian Airlines Group CEO Alfred Ötsch said the following to mark the anniversary: “50 years of Austrian Airlines means 50 years of successful Austrian civil aviation. Since making our first flight to London on 31 March 1958, we have brought together many millions of people from every country in the world, and we are a natural ambassador and powerful advertisement for Austria itself. Austrian Airlines has worked hard to develop a truly outstanding reputation as a quality carrier in every continent of the world and in so doing has transported typically Austrian values such as hospitality and charm around the world. With its successful Focus East strategy, uncompromising insistence upon quality and hugely dedicated workforce, the red-white-red tailfin of Austrian is perfectly positioned to enjoy an independent future.”

Successful Focus East strategy
Since beginning flight operations in 1958, Austrian Airlines has always placed a special focus on providing flight connections to the countries of what was formerly the Eastern Bloc. Warsaw became the first destination in Eastern Europe to be incorporated into the company’s route network in the first year of operation, 1958, and was soon followed by Moscow, Bucharest, Belgrade and Sofia in 1959. As a result, Vienna naturally developed into a hub providing West-East air transport in the decades that followed. Austrian Airlines today is the market leader in Central and Eastern Europe, and offers 48 destinations across the region. By opening up new destinations such as Baia Mare in Romania, Nizhny Novgorod and Sochi, host city of the 2014 Winter Olympics, Austrian is constantly confirming its role as a specialist and pioneer in the East. The Focus East strategy also means that the company devotes more of its attentions to the countries of the Levant and Middle East. Austrian’s range of services to this rapidly-growing market continues to intensify, and the region is set to contribute even more strongly to the economic success of Austrian Airlines in coming years than has been the case to date. 

50 years of “we care”
Austrian Airlines has stayed true to its claim to be the “friendly airline” throughout the past 50 years. Factors such as the punctuality of the company’s flights, the high-quality inflight experience, the care and attention given to passengers down on the ground, the top-level culinary service provided by DO&CO in Business and Economy Class, and staff who constantly strive to demonstrate that “we care” all combine to make flying with Austrian a uniquely pleasurable experience. Austrian is always working to make further improvements to the service provided. The most recent demonstration of this was the decision to install 24 lie-flat sleeper seats in the Business Class sections of several Airbus A320 aircraft from September 2008 onwards as part of the Austrian Premium Service. 

Latest aircraft for highest comfort
Austrian Airlines has used the very latest aircraft available throughout its history. Its Vickers Viscount 779 aircraft, which were initially leased, were replaced by owned Vickers Viscount 837 machines in 1960. In 1963, the company entered the jet age for the first time with the acquisition of its first Caravelle aircraft. On several occasions in the five decades since being founded, Austrian Airlines has been the first carrier in the world to order new types of aircraft, and has had a fundamental influence on trends in aviation technology as a result; examples include the company’s use of the DC-9-50, the MD-80 and the MD-87. AUA was also amongst the first carriers in the world to order all the Airbus and Fokker models. Today the Austrian Airlines Group operates a constantly growing and modern fleet of approximately 100 aircraft. 

Austrian Technical Department – safety and reliability as the highest priority
The Austrian Airlines Group has used the 25,000 m² of space in the three hangars at its Technical Department at Vienna Airport to provide its aircraft with top-class maintenance and servicing for the past 34 years. With almost 1,100 members of staff, the Austrian Technical Department provides a wide range of services that extends well beyond maintenance of its own aircraft. The daily agenda at the department includes conducting regular checks, work in the company’s internal workshops and providing round-the-clock care for the fleet. The renowned Austrian Technical Department does not only provide its own aircraft with world-class maintenance, however: thanks to its cooperation with Lufthansa Technik, an increasing amount of servicing and overhaul work is now done for third-party airlines, raising the profitability of the company further still. As a result, the Austrian Technical Department makes a substantial contribution to securing and expanding the position of Vienna as a location of key importance in the aviation industry. 

The Austrian Airlines Group continues to move in a successful direction, and its 8,000 members of staff will proudly come together to mark the company’s 50th anniversary on 31 March 2008.