LONDON – Swiss regional carrier Helvetic Airways has announced the retirement of its final Fokker 100 aircraft.

The aircraft will be retired on Friday, June 14, and will mark the end of an era for the aircraft and the airline.

Helvetic Airways was established in the autumn of 2003 following the rebranding of Odette Airways.

Helvetic Airways began serving destinations in South-Eastern Europe, and as Switzerland’s first budget carrier began operations in November 2003 with their first Fokker 100 HB-JVA being delivered on November 25th.

Initially flying to three destinations the airline’s network grew rapidly, and by 2004, its fleet had grown to seven aircraft with six additional Fokker 100s being delivered to the airline by September 2004.

Image Aero Icarus / Wikimedia Commons

Replacing the Fokker 100s

The airline has already taken delivery of new aircraft as it began replacing the Fokker, with the more modern and higher-capacity Embraer E190, in 2019.

Helvetic’s new Embraers can seat between 104 and 112 passengers, proving a good increase in capacity compared to the Fokker 100’s capacity for only 100 passengers.

Helvetic has four additional Embraer E190-E2 on order which will complement its existing fleet of Embraer E190s.

The re-engined variant of the E190 features greater fuel efficiency and reduced noise levels, as well along with lower operating costs.

This new variant of the popular Embraer regional jet has proven effective following its introduction into service with Wideroe in April 2018.

The E190 has become the mainstay of the airline’s fleet, as it has replaced the rest of its ageing aircraft previously operated.

These included a mixed fleet of Fokker 100s, an Airbus A319 and a McDonnell Douglas MD-83.

The airline plans to utilise the Embraer aircraft to expand its network, as it will be adding several new-build aircraft in 2019.

Embraer’s re-engined variant of the E190 (E190 E2) could prove a gamechanger as
Helvetic looks to take delivery of its first example in 2019.

Helvetic Airways operates charter and contract services and has provided aircraft for operations on behalf of several major carriers, including Lufthansa and Swiss International Air Lines.

The airline continues to operate its seven-strong fleet of E190s for the Swiss flag carrier, along with a single service between Munich and Zurich operated for Lufthansa.

Currently, Helvetic flies from its bases at Bern and Zurich to destinations across Europe in Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, and Spain, with the majority of the airline’s own flights being on a seasonal basis.

At the time of writing the last remaining Fokker 100, HB-JVG is at the airlines base in Zurich in the role as a backup aircraft, although it will undoubtedly be retired in the coming days, to then be replaced by a larger Embraer.

Editors Story on the Fokker 100

Helvetic Airways Fokker 100 at RAF Lossiemouth in November 2018

What makes the Fokker 100 so special to aviation enthusiasts around the world?

Maybe it’s the unique sound of the 2 Rolls Royce Tay engines spooling up into life, or perhaps the twin-engine layout located at the rear of the aircraft which makes it so unique.

For me it is a truly special aircraft, having seen KLM Cityhopper use a mix of Fokker 70 & 100s for years into Newcastle Airport only for the type to be completely retired from service in 2017.

A special moment though was in November 2018.

Whilst at RAF Lossiemouth it emerged that one of Helvetic Airways Fokker 100s would be operating a flight from Switzerland, bringing military personnel to the North of Scotland to assist the Swiss Air Force F-18 Hornets which were participating in an exercise with the Royal Air Force.

I knew this would likely be one of the last opportunities to see Helvetic Airways as the type looked certain to be retired at some point in 2019.

Seeing this Fokker 100, HB-JVE, in the far-flung North of Scotland, on a cold winters day as the sun began to set over the Moray Firth, seemed a fitting way to say goodbye to the aircraft I grew up seeing operate in and out of the UK.

As Helvetic Airways ends its Fokker 100 operations, that leaves only Avanti Air, Trade Air, Carpatair and Montenegro Airlines as the last European operators of the type.