Swiss International Air Lines

Swiss International Air Lines

Infobox Airline
airline = Swiss International Air Lines

logo_size = 150
fleet_size = 78 (+11 orders)
destinations = 76
callsign = SWISS
parent = Deutsche Lufthansa AG
founded = 2001 after bankruptcy of Swissair
headquarters = Basel, Switzerland
key_people = Dr. Christoph Franz (President and CEO)
hubs = Zurich International Airport
focus_cities = Geneva Cointrin International Airport,
EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg
frequent_flyer = Miles & More
lounge = Swiss Lounge
alliance = Star Alliance
website =

Swiss International Air Lines Ltd. (short: "Swiss") is the principal airline of Switzerland operating scheduled services in Europe and to North America, South America, Africa and Asia. Its main hub is Zurich Kloten Airport (ZRH). Swiss is a subsidiary of the German airline Lufthansa.

The airline uses the IATA Code LX, which it inherited from the Swiss regional airline Crossair (Swissair's code was SR).The ICAO code is SWR, inherited from Swissair (Crossair's was CRX), in order to keep international traffic rights.

Troubled Beginnings

The airline was formed after the 2001 bankruptcy of Swissair, Switzerland's former flag carrier. In fact, their losses totaled $1.6 billion from its startup until 2005. The failed airline's biggest creditors, Credit Suisse and UBS, arranged to sell part of Swissair's assets to Crossair, the regional counterpart to the transatlantic Swissair (both Swissair and Crossair were under the same holding company, called SAirGroup). Crossair later changed its name to Swiss, and the new national airline started its operations officially on March 31, 2002. The airline was first owned by institutional investors (61.3%), Swiss Confederation (20.3%), cantons and communities (12.2%) and others (6.2%). Swiss also owns subsidiary companies Swiss Sun (100%) and Crossair Europe (99.9%). It has a total of 7359 employees. [cite web |title=Swiss - Facts & Figures |url= |accessdate=2008-07-13 ]

Swiss International Air Lines, or "Swiss" was founded from the remains of Crossair. Unfortunately, the name change did not help. Crossair, which had for 40% of its income come from the defunct Swissair, and was cut out for becoming and intercontinental airline thanks to the September 11, 2001 attacks. The first year was plagued with loss and the Swiss government gave the airline the then-equivalent of $1.5 billion, which was used up within two years.

According to Marcel Biedermann, the managing director intercontinental markets for Swiss, said there were three possibilities: stay independent as a niche carrier, shrink to an unrecognizable level, or attach onto another airline group. The last choice was taken. Swiss talked to Air France-KLM, British Airways, and Lufthansa. However, Swiss was tied up with debt and an uncertain future, and seemed to be an unattractive investment. After merging with KLM, Air France said they were too busy to deal with Swiss joining them. Lufthansa wanted to take over, but the Swiss people did not want that. British Airways was open, and Oneworld partners thought Zürich Airport would be a viable alternative hub for London Heathrow. After almost a year of disputes, Swiss was finally accepted into the Oneworld airline alliance, after having been blocked by British Airways, which competes with Swiss on many long-haul routes. On June 3, 2004, Swiss announced its decision not to join Oneworld because they did not want to integrate their current frequent flyer program into British Airways' Executive Club. Furthermore, Swiss thought the relationship was one sided, where British Airways sapped out the benefits of the airline, but they would get no return.

Bouncing Back

By 2005, Swiss was half its 2002 size, and coming back. The airline annually halved its losses, and in 2006, received a net profit of $220 million. The net profit of the year 2007 was $570 million. Biedermann stated in the March 2008 edition of "Airways", that "this was the beginning of getting our house back in order." He said that help was needed and looked up to Lufthansa as a comparison, so their coming together was natural, even with their differences. Even with the smaller network, Swiss carries the same number of passengers as they did in 2002.

On 22 March 2005 Lufthansa confirmed its plan to take over Swiss, starting with a minority stake (11%) of a new company set up to hold Swiss shares called Air Trust. The takeover was completed on the 1st of July 2007 and the Swiss operations were gradually integrated with Lufthansa's from late 2005. Swiss joined Star Alliance on 1 April 2006, when it also became a member of Lufthansa's Miles & More frequent flyer program.

The airline has set up a regional airline subsidiary called Swiss European Air Lines. This carrier has its own air operator's certificate and operates a non-Airbus fleet. The two independently operating divisions Swiss AviationTraining and Swiss WorldCargo (belly capacity of passenger planes) are also owned by Swiss.

The Effects of Lufthansa

Following Lufthansa's takeover, the regional fleet was changed from Crossair's Embraer ERJs and Saabs to Avro RJs (also known as BAe 146), which are flown by a wholly-owned subsidiary, Swiss European Air Lines. The rest of the fleet, apart from the regional jets, was also rationalised and is now all Airbus.

The airline reconstruction also caused Swiss to renegotiate their supplier contracts, which include ground handling, maintenance, food service, and labor.

Even though there was no public opposition to Lufthansa's takeover, some people thought the airline was given away. The shareholders of Swiss received a performance-based option for their shares. Payment will be in 2008, and the amount will depend on how well Lufthansa's shares compare with competitors' shares. Lufthansa continues to maintain Swiss as a separate brand.


New routes and added frequencies

*Zürichndash Shanghaindash Will be a daily service operated by Airbus A340 aircraft, the service was temporarily routed via Beijing for Olympics in 2008 from 28 July to 28 August.

The airline announced a major expansion at EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg in an attempt to win back market share from budget airlines using the airport. On January 14, 2007 services were launched to Barcelona, Budapest, Manchester, Nice, Prague and Warsaw, in addition to existing services to Amsterdam, Brussels, London and Zurich [Airliner World, February 2007] .

On September 19, 2007 SWISS announced a further expansion of its network with the following routes and destinations:

*Zürichndash Berlinndash increasing from 3 to 4 daily rotations with Airbus A320- and A321
*Zürichndash Sofiandash Will be a daily service operated by Airbus 320 aircraft (begins March 2008)

Codeshare agreements

Aside from codeshares with Star Alliance partners, Swiss codeshares with the following carriers:

*Adria Airways (SA)ndash Codeshare agreement on Zurich–Ljubljana flights.
*Air Canada (SA)ndash Codeshare agreement on Zurich–Toronto flights. Connecting flights via Toronto/Montreal to Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Halifax, Ottawa, Quebec.
*Air Francendash Codeshare agreement on Geneva–Paris Charles de Gaulle flights.
*Air Indiandash Codeshare agreement on Zurich-Mumbai & Zurich-Delhi flights. These code share flights are in benefit for Air India because it does not serve Switzerland, so it is Swiss who transports passengers under an Air India ticket who with to fly to Zurich. In India Swiss International Airlines serves Delhi and Mumbai.
*Air Onendash Codeshare agreement on Zurich–Napoli and Catania flights.
*All Nippon Airways (SA)ndash Codeshare agreement on SWISS Zurich–Tokyo flights.
*Austrian Airlines (SA)ndash Codeshare agreement on all routes between Switzerland and Austria.
*Blue1 (SA)ndash Codeshare agreement on Zurich–Helsinki flights.
*Brussels Airlinesndash Codeshare agreement on all routes between Switzerland and Belgium.
*Cirrus Airlinesndash Codeshare agreement on Zurich–Dresden and Zurich–Salzburg flights.
*Croatia Airlines (SA)ndash Codeshare agreement on Zurich–Zagreb flights.
*Darwin Airlinendash Operates flights Zurich–Lugano on behalf of SWISS.
*Edelweiss Airndash Codeshare agreement on flights with individual seats to 15 holiday destinations from Zurich and to 2 holiday destinations from Geneva.
*Egyptair (SA)ndash Codeshare agreement on all routes between Switzerland and Egypt.
*El Alndash Codeshare agreement on Zurich–Tel Aviv and Geneva–Tel Aviv flights.
*Jet Airwaysndash Airline agreement only
*LOT Polish Airlines (SA)ndash Codeshare agreement on all routes between Switzerland and Poland.
*Lufthansa (SA)ndash On several flights between Germany and Switzerland and on selected European and intercontinental connections.
*PrivatAirndash PrivatAir operates on behalf of Swiss on all flights between Zurich International Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport in an all-business class Boeing 737-BBJ 56-seat configuration.
*Qatar Airwaysndash Codeshare agreement on Zurich–Doha flights.
*Rossiyandash Codeshare agreement on Zurich-Saint Petersburg flights.
*Scandinavian Airlines System (SA)ndash Codeshare agreement on all routes between Switzerland and Sweden, Denmark, Norway and selected beyond routes via Copenhagen gateway.
*South African Airways (SA)ndash Codeshare agreement on connecting flights via Johannesburg to Cape Town, Durban and Windhoek.
*Spanair (SA)ndash Codeshare agreement on all routes between Switzerland and Spain.
*TAP Portugal (SA)ndash Codeshare agreement on all routes between Switzerland and Portugal.
*Thai Airways International (SA)ndash Codeshare agreement on all flights between Switzerland and Thailand.
*Ukraine International Airlinesndash Codeshare agreement on Zurich-Kiev flights.
*United Airlines (SA)ndash Codeshare agreement on all flights between Switzerland and the US and on selected European and US connections.
*US Airways (SA)ndash Codeshare on the Zurich-Philadelphia route and on 10 routes throughout Europe via the Zurich gateway.

Note: This list includes Star Alliance (SA) partners.


The Swiss International Air Lines fleet includes the following aircraft (as of October 2008): []
*First Class offered on Airbus A340 and 5 A330 aircraft.** Airbus A320 family and RJ-100 aircraft feature variable size cabins. The middle of 3 seats is kept free in Business Class.

*The average age of the Swiss International Air Lines fleet is 8 years (2006)
*The aircraft fleet is to be renamed after local towns and cities over the next two years. The names will be featured on the aircraft fuselage, with cabin interiors showing the coat of arms of the town or city. The latest fleet addition, an Airbus A330, is the first to follow this scheme, as Berne. Airliner World January 2007]
*Six Airbus A340 aircraft are to be added to the fleet. The first of which is an ex-Air Canada plane [] . Three more ex-Air Canada A340s are to be added along with two ex-Austrian Airlines to increase frequencies on existing routes and to launch new routes for summer 2008.
*Two Airbus A330 aircraft are also being added to the fleet. The first one will replace an Airbus A300-600 in November 2006 which was leased from Hapag-Lloyd, and the second in mid-December 2006, both to increase route frequencies.
*The short haul fleet is also expected to expand with plans confirmed in September 2006 to add two Airbus A321 and one Airbus A320 aircraft. To avail the market chances, Swiss added 2 additional Airbus A320 aircraft to their fleet earlier than planned. The aircraft were added in autumn 2007 and were not new-build aircraft, but rather former Swissair aircraft that were leased out for six years.
*In addition to SWISS' own fleet a number of codeshare agreements are currently in effect. These include 3 Fokker 100 aircraft operated by Swiss airline Helvetic Airways, two Fokker 100 operated by Lufthansa Regional partner Contact Air, one BAe 146-300 operated by British airline Flightline (UK), and one Saab 2000 operated by Swiss regional airline Darwin Airline. These aircraft operate from Zurich on routes to Birmingham, Manchester, Prague, Brussels, and Lugano.
*On 20 September 2007, Lufthansa confirmed an order for 41 aircraft. [" [ Lufthansa to order 41 Airbuses including nine A330s for Swiss] " Flight Global, 20/09/07] Two of the ordered A320 and the 9 orders for A330 aircraft are intended for Swiss.

One MD-11 aircraft formerly used by Swiss had the Chinese character Ruì (瑞), from the Chinese translation of Switzerland, Ruìshì (瑞士), on the tail fin instead of the cross. It came from the former Swissair subsidiary Swissair Asia, which was formed to allow for Swissair to serve the Republic of China and the People's Republic of China [] .



Further reading

*Donohue, Ken. "Swiss continues a proud tradition." Airways Magazine: A Global Review of Commercial Flight. March 2008: 22-23, 25, 28.

External links

* [ Official website]
* [ Swiss WorldCargondash Cargo Operations]
* [ BBC article on the Lufthansa takeover]
* [ History of Swiss and Swissair]
* [ The SWISS Fan Web Site]

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