In the autumn of 2003, Odette Airways got extended and re-branded, turning itself into Helvetic Airways, its main goal being to serve destinations all over South-Eastern Europe.
Helvetic Airways, Switzerland’s first budget carrier, started operations in November, 2003, with a single Fokker 100 and three destinations, but by 2004, six more aircraft of the same type were added to the fleet.
In March, 2006, the investment company Patinex AG purchased all the shares of Helvetic Airways AG.
In December of the same year, the new red-white-silver grey livery was introduced.
In April 2008, in order to deal better with its rapidly expanding business, Helvetic Airways and the Horizon Swiss Flight Academy Ltd. entered into an extensive collaboration. In addition to training cabin staff, this institution provides comprehensive pilot training for private and commercial aircraft. The two companies have merged under the umbrella of the Helvetic Airways Group.
In 2009, the partnership between Swiss and Helvetic Airways has been extended until spring 2014. Since 2006, the ACMI (Aircraft, Crew, Maintenance, Insurance) cooperation between SWISS and Helvetic Airways has been gradually expanded from one aircraft to three aircraft.
In the summer of 2010, Helvetic Airways expanded its fleet of four Fokker 100 by an additional two aircraft of the same type. With the identical configuration, valued by the passengers for the generous seat spacing and high level of in-cabin comfort, Helvetic Airways retained the uniformity of the fleet. With three aircrafts operating in a long-term wet lease arrangement with SWISS, Helvetic Airways used the other three additional aircrafts to operate scheduled and charter flights.
In the summer of 2011, Helvetic Airways started offering a business class service «viva!» on selected routes (scheduled and charter flights).
Since November 2011, Helvetic Airways started running its own maintenance operation at Zurich airport after its maintenance unit was certified by the Federal Office for Civil Aviation of Switzerland (FOCA) and EASA-145. With this extension, Helvetic Airways has achieved autonomy and greater flexibility in operating its Fokker 100 fleet.
In 2013, Helvetic Airways continued to grow, expanding the fast growing areas of charter and special charter flights. With its fleet of Fokker 100 already used at full capacity, the airline started operating an Airbus A319, an aircraft that allowed Helvetic Airways to reach destinations that lie beyond the range of the Fokker 100.
As of the 2013/2014 winter flight schedule, the partnership between SWISS and Helvetic Airways was extended to four Helvetic Airways Fokker 100 (including crew) to be in operation for Swiss until spring 2017.
From May 2014, Helvetic Airways is connecting the cities of Zurich and Bordeaux, making the west coast of France easily accessible by direct flights from Zurich for the very first time.
In December 2014, Helvetic Airways concluded long-term leases with the Airfleet Credit Corporation for seven Embraer 190s, three of which entered into operation by February 2015. Four Fokker 100s and four Embraer 190s will be in service, in the long term, for SWISS, as part of the ACMI partnership. The other 3 Embraer aircraft are used for the scheduled and charter services of Helvetic Airways AG.
With the 2015 flight schedule, the primary intention is to consolidate Helvetic’s current scheduled destinations. The additional capacity in the charter business will be absorbed by the current partners. The Helvetic Airways «Special Charter» product has been in great demand.
Since March 2016, Helvetic Airways has a long-term wet-lease contract with Lufthansa for the route Zurich-Munich.
In Spring 2017, Helvetic Airways returned to its lessor the one Airbus A319 100 it was operating for the last four years.
In June 2018, Helvetic Airways’ new CEO, Tobias Pogorevc, announced the airline’s plans to increase its fleet to 15 aircraft by 2020. Helvetic Airways is also seeking an aircraft with a seating capacity from 75 to 140 seats to replace the aging Fokker fleet and evaluating whether or not it will switch to a one-model or two-model fleet. Talks are in progress with Embraer and Bombardier only.
Today, the airline has two bases – its home base in Zurich, and a secondary one in Bern-Belp, serving various destinations all over Europe.
No fatal accidents involving Helvetic Airways aircraft have been recorded so far. There was an incident, on February 18, 2013, when eight men armed with automatic weapons seized 120 small parcels containing an estimated $50 million (£32,000,000) worth of diamonds from a Helvetic Airways plane loaded with passengers preparing for departure from Brussels to Zurich, but the robbery did not appear to disturb any of the passengers, who did not know even that anything had happened until they were told to disembark because the flight had been canceled.