That was seventeen years ago, on November 7, 2001. Sabena was declared bankrupt. Flight SN690, an Airbus A340-311 registered OO-SCZ coming from Cotonou and Abidjan, was the last Sabena aircraft to land at Brussels, with 266 passengers and 11 crew. End of history, completely unimaginable at the time for an airline that appeared as one of the flagships of the national economy and a legendary company in the world. Ten thousand workers then found themselves on the floor.
Sabena (Société Anonyme Belge d’Exploitation de la Navigation Aérienne) was a venerable old lady of 78 years. An internationally renowned company, the largest employer with 10,000 workers, 11 million passengers in 2000, 107 destinations in 48 countries. That’s the positive business card.
But Sabena was also known for its losses almost every year. The lack of vision of the state which regained control before the evil marriage with Swissair in 1995. A lack of capital, a hectic social life, a growing debt of two billion euros at the end. Especially after Swissair has undertaken to take the best, pumping subsidiaries and passengers, with a certain folly sometimes, as with the massive purchase of 34 Airbus aircraft, which put the balance sheet definitively in the red.
The restructuring plans did not change anything. The Swiss, highly indebted, were the first to plunge.
Bloodless, abandoned by the Belgian State which was tired to invest at loss, Sabena filed for bankruptcy on November 7, 2001.