The Royal Mint of Belgium has released new collector silver coins which remember the centenary anniversary of the founding of the national airline carrier SABENA. The airline carrier was founded on the 23rd May 1923 by the “Father of Belgian Aviation,” Georges Nélis (1886–1929), with additional help from Belgian King Albert I. The Societé Anonyme Belge d’Exploitation de la Navigation Aérienne, better known by the acronym SABENA, became the national airline of Belgium from that time until 2001, with its base at Brussels National Airport. The airline’s first paying flight took place on the 1st April 1924 on a flight scheduled from Rotterdam to Strasbourg with a stop-over at Brussels. Later that year, SABENA operated regularly scheduled routes to London, Bremen, and Copenhagen. From 1925, SABENA pioneered a route to Africa operating cargo and limited passenger services to destinations such as Kinshasha, Lisala and Stanleyville in the Belgian Congo. By 1931 SABENA’s fleet, including the aircraft used on the Congo network, totalled 43 aircraft, with their long-haul flight to the Congo taking just five and a half days from the previous eight. The airline’s pre-war routes covered almost 6,000 kilometres (3,700) miles within Europe alone. By the outbreak of war in Europe in 1939, SABENA’s fleet was regarded as one of the most sophisticated and varied. Unfortunately, as fighting broke out, all passenger and most cargo flights were seized until 1946. The year later, SABENA launched a new route across the Atlantic to New York with Douglas DC-6Bs in service, and in just ten years, the DC-7C model “Seven Seas” was introduced for long-haul routes, shortly ushering in the jet age.
Despite the many innovations and reputation for excellence, the iconic brand was lost owing to a combination of bad debts and the attack in the United States on the 9th September 2001 on the World Trade Centre. Many Airlines depending on trans-Atlantic flights were forced to cease operations and SABENA was one of them, filing for legal protection against their creditors on the 3rd October the same year. SABENA went into final liquidation in November, ending almost eighty years of Belgian aviation history and service. However, even though SABENA airplanes are no longer a familiar sight in the skies, their participation and familiar logo are still fondly remembered by travellers and aviation aficionados alike.
The coin is produced by the Royal Dutch Mint at their facilities in Houten, Netherlands, in association with the Royal Belgian Mint and is designed by Iris Bruijns. The reverse side depicts a representation of a SABENA Airbus A340-211 flying around the globe. On the lower-right is an image of both the last SABENA logo along with the “sky bird” insignia designed by Belgian artist René Magritte, especially for the company. The obverse side includes an effigy of HM King Philip designed by Royal Belgian Mint artisan Luc Luycx, facing right along with his crowned monogram placed to the right and text surrounding the likeness of the king, which reads BELGIE – BELGIQUE – BELGIEN representing the official three languages of Belgium. The denomination 20 EURO is placed below the primary design, and the year of issue 2023 is shown in a vertical direction.
|22.8 g||37 mm||Proof||
Each coin is encapsulated and presented in a custom case and accompanied by a certificate of authenticity. For additional information, please click here.