World's Extinct Airliners - Sabena Airlines #1

G’Day IFC,

As of today, I be starting threads that will hold detailed information of topics covering:

  • World’s Extinct Airliners
  • Airport Showcase
  • Airliner Showcase (currently running)

These won’t be daily because of spam and give some people time to have some conversations,possible facts they know and real life experiences they had with the airliner/airport.

Suggestions for future requests can be submitted by DM to keep a bit of a secret for others ;). Without any more stalling lets get to introduce, the first World’s Extinct Airliners thread!

Sabena Airlines

Other Known names:

  • (Sabena World Airlines)
  • (Societe Autonyme Belge d’Exploitation de la Navigation Aerienne)

On the 23rd of May 1923 Sabena was offically founded. From this date, Sabena was the Beligum’s national carrier. Sabena opened it’s first scheduled service between Brussels and Strasbourg in 1924 with future routes to London, Cologne, Germany, France, Scandinavia, Switzerland and the Low Countries which consists of modern day Netherlands and Luxembourg with parts of Belgium.

In 1925 air service began within Belgium’s major colony, the Belgian Congo which in today’s world is know as DR Congo. The regularly scheduled service between Brussels and Léopoldville (Kinshasa) did not begin until 1935.

The Airliner was an essential world war carrier to the people for transport.

After WWII, The first transatlantic flight from Brussels to New York service was opened in 1947. In 1953, Sabena was the first airline in the world to launch an helicopter scheduled service, between Brussels and the European capitals. Later in 1964, Sabena carried for the first time more than 1,000,000 passengers in a year. In 1969, a scheduled service to Tokyo was opened, then followed the scheduled services to Montevideo and Santiago in 1974.

In 1992, increasing financial issues started to peak through and Sabena decided to signed a partnership agreement with Air France in 1992 which later in 1994 they withdraw the offer.

In 1999, Sabena reportedly carried for the first time more than 10,000,000 passengers in a year and served 165,000 flights

By the early 21st century Sabena’s routes reached throughout the Low Countries and the major cities and resorts of Europe and also overseas to the United States, Canada, Mexico, Africa, the Middle East, India, Southeast Asia, the Philippines, and Japan.

In 1995, Sabena signed a partnership agreement with SwissAir, which took a 49.5% equity holding. In 1998, Sabena was among the founding members of the Qualiflyer group, created by SwissAir, which increased its equity holding to 85%.

In April 2001, the fleet included 12 long-haul aircrafts and 66 median-haul aircrafts. Sabena had 11,000 employees and 1,500 more in outstations. The 9/11 attacks in 2001 didn’t help the airliner in anyway as SwissAir didn’t help Sabena with their financial problems which they promised to do which later on in 2001, they declared bankruptcy.

In came November in 2001 where the airliner went into liquidation. There existence in the industry after 78 years ended on the 6th of that month.

It went into some reorganisation with Delta Air Transport. With the company gone, the new air carrier to replace them was SN Brussels Airlines which then changed into the modern known airliner Brussels Airlines. This was due to a merger with Virgin Express a Belgian airline formerly owned by British entrepreneur Richard Branson.

—> Brussels Airlines | Belgian airline | Britannica
—> Sabena (Belgian Airlines System)

Aircraft Used

As it’s historical difficult to put in the right order, i have used websites and based it off the order of them together (not including Wikipedia)

Early Stages of existence 1920 - 1934

De Havilland DH.50
Replaced with:
Handley-Page W8f (pictured, Sabena Congo operations)

  • Used with the Beligan Congo routes

Farman Goliath
Breguet 14
Reports of more British built aircraft were in the fleet but are not determined to be true if it was more Handley-Page W8f.
Fokker 7b
British Westland Wessex
43 aircraft recorded during the end of 1931

1935 - 1938
Savoia-Marchetti S.M. 73 (pictured, not airliner coloured)

  • This airliner was a revolution in travel during this time as it went upto 200mph and flight times of 4 days were recorded, far better than the 5 and 1/2 days with the Fokker 7b on the Congo route.
  • Recorded 11 were bought to the airliner which was widely popular over the world.
    Junkers Ju-52/3m (photo in Sabena colours)
  • The airline’s pre-war routes covered almost 6000 kms within Europe alone.
    Savoia-Marchetti S.M. 83
  • A upgraded version with higher speeds of 270mph while it only reached 250mph during their flights for WWII accordingly.
    Douglas DC-2

Fleet consisted of in 1938:
11 S.M 73.
5 Junkers Ju52-3m
2 Douglas DC-2s

1939 - 1959
Douglas DC-3
Douglas DC-4

  • Initially started the transatlantic routes to New York
    Douglas DC-6B
  • Quickly replaced the DC-4’s for the transatlantic flights
    Convair 240
  • Replaced the DC-3’s for European Flights
    Convair 440
  • Replaced the Convair 240’s for the same reason
    Douglas DC-7C
  • Was introduced for long-haul routes but would be supplanted after only three years by the jet age.

1960 - 1989 (New Pre-Modern Times)
Boeing 707-320

  • For it’s long-haul trans-Atlantic flights to New York.
    Sud-Est SE-210 Caravelle
  • Flew along side Convair 440’s in Europe and did Medium Haul flights
    Boeing 727-100
    Fokker F-27
  • Used for regional flights in Belgium
    Boeing 747-200
    Boeing 737-200
  • Replacing B727’s
    Douglas DC10-30CF
    Airbus A310

1990 - End

McDonald Douglas 11

  • Replacing DC-10-30’s
    Airbus A340
  • Long Haul Flights
    Airbus A321
    Airbus A319
  • Last Aircraft to join the fleet in 2000

—> sabena belgian airlines

This airline didn’t even see glimpses of the future, let alone the start of the new decade It could have the of being here today if the money was paided with a potential 100th year anniversary in 2023.

Thanks for reading this, it took me 5 hours of reading and editing this. Found it interesting and worth a very good history lesson with time periods and gave me another bump about how long the 747 has been flying for. Its currently 11.05pm and needing to wake up for work at 5.50am. If any mistakes its because of tiredness because I wake up at 5.50am everyday during the weekdays.

Let me know below what I should add into these Extinct Airline topics!



Great topic here, super interesting and very well done. And I learned something as well. Feel free to make more of these topics, they’re really neat!

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Very informative about Sabena! I really enjoyed reading!
It’s very unfortunate that they closed, but eventually, after the merger, Brussels Airlines was created to be the new national carrier.
I hope the Coronacrisis won’t do the same to Brussels Airlines, like it happened with Sabena.

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Awesome post.

Sabena used to have a direct Brussels to Dallas/Fort Worth A330 flight. Too bad I wasn’t alive to see it.


Really interesting post! Very well made. I never knew that Swissair was involved with Sabena and that in the end all went downhill for both carriers rather simultaneously. Also interesting to see that the new Belgian and SWISS flag carriers are also connected, both being part of the Lufthansa Group.

Thanks for sharing!

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In fact, I never knew about this airline! great topic @Captain209!


I’m really interested in this! I hope the next one is as good!

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Wow, a cross-country trip in the car is like 2h30, 3hrs… Not sure how they actually did profit on those…


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