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Swiss International Air Lines
Swiss International Air Lines

Swiss International Air Lines AG (stylised as SWISS), commonly referred to as Swiss, is the flag carrier of Switzerland, operating scheduled services in Europe and to North America, South America, Africa and Asia. Zurich Airport is its hub, Geneva Airport is a focus city. The airline was formed following the bankruptcy in 2002 of Swissair, Switzerland's then flag carrier. The new airline was built around what had been Swissair's regional subsidiary, Crossair. Swiss retains Crossair's IATA code LX (Swissair's code was SR). It assumed Swissair's old ICAO code of SWR (Crossair's was CRX), to maintain international traffic rights. It is a member of Star Alliance and a subsidiary of the Lufthansa Group. Its headquarters are at EuroAirport Basel Mulhouse Freiburg near Basel, Switzerland, and an office at Zurich Airport in Kloten, Switzerland.[6] The company's registered office is in Basel.[7]

History


Swiss was formed after the 2002 bankruptcy of Swissair, Switzerland's former flag carrier. 40% of Crossair's income came from Swissair. The new airline lost US$1.6 billion from 2002 to 2005. Swissair's biggest creditors, Credit Suisse and UBS, sold part of Swissair's assets to Crossair, which had been Swissair's regional counterpart. At the time, both Swissair and Crossair were part of the same holding company, SAirGroup. Crossair later changed its name to Swiss International Air Lines, and the new national airline officially started operations on 31 March 2002. The airline was initially owned by institutional investors (61.3%), the Swiss Confederation (20.3%), cantons and communities (12.2%) and others (6.2%). Swiss also owns subsidiaries Swiss Sun (100%) and Crossair Europe (99.9%). It has a total of 7,383 employees.[8]

According to Marcel Biedermann, the managing director of intercontinental markets for Swiss, there were three possibilities: stay independent as a niche carrier, shrink to an unrecognisable 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. British Airways was open, and Oneworld partners thought Zurich 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 3 June 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.

The airline annually halved its losses, and in 2006 recorded a net profit of $220 million. The net profit for 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 Group 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. Swiss operations were gradually integrated with Lufthansa's from late 2005, and the takeover was completed on 1 July 2007. Swiss joined Star Alliance and became a member of Lufthansa's Miles and More frequent flyer program on 1 April 2006.

The airline set up a regional airline subsidiary called Swiss European Air Lines. The carrier had its own air operator's certificate. Two divisions - Swiss Aviation Training and Swiss WorldCargo (using the belly capacity of passenger planes)- are also owned by Swiss. Swiss European Air Lines (later renamed Swiss Global Air Lines) has since ceased operations and merged with its parent, Swiss.

In 2008 Swiss International Air Lines acquired Edelweiss Air[9] [10] and Servair[11] - later renamed Swiss Private Aviation. In February 2011, Swiss Private Aviation ceased operations as a result of restructuring. The company recommended using Lufthansa Private Jet Service instead.[12]

In 2007 Swiss ordered nine Airbus A330-300s to gradually replace existing A330-200s and has three-class seating. The first A330-300 was put into service on the flagship Zürich to New York-JFK route in April 2009. In spring 2010 Swiss operated five A330-300s on medium and long-haul routes. The remaining four A330-300 aircraft joined the fleet in 2011.

Following Lufthansa Group's takeover,[13] the regional fleet was changed from Crossair's Embraer ERJs and Saabs to Avro RJs, which were flown by a wholly owned subsidiary, Swiss Global Air Lines. The rest of the fleet was rationalised and now mainly consists of Airbus aircraft, apart from the Boeing 777.

Swiss also renegotiated their supplier contracts, including ground handling, maintenance, food service, and labour. Swiss shareholders received a performance-based option for their shares. Payment was in 2008, and the amount depended on how well Lufthansa's shares compared with competitors' shares. Lufthansa continues to maintain Swiss as a separate brand.

In 2010, Swiss and Lufthansa were named in a European Commission investigation into price-fixing but were not fined due to acting as a whistleblower.[14]

On 18 August 2011, Swiss introduced a new company logo[15] which resembled the logo of the defunct Swissair.[16]

Corporate affairs


Swiss International Air Lines has its operational headquarters at EuroAirport Basel Mulhouse Freiburg[17][18] near Basel, Switzerland.[8] The French-Swiss airport is located on French territory and has customs-free access to Switzerland.[19] The Swiss head office is located in the Swiss section of the airport, and it is only accessible from Switzerland.[20] According to the commercial register, the legal seat is in Basel itself.[21]

Swiss International Air Lines' head office was previously the head office of Crossair. In 2002 the "Crossair" sign on the building was replaced by a "Swiss International Air Lines" one.[22] As of 2004 the Basel area offices housed about 1,000 employees, while the Zurich area offices housed about 850 employees. When Swiss started as a company, about 1,400-1,500 worked at the Basel offices.[23]

The following companies are part of the Swiss International Air Lines Group:

  • Edelweiss Air
  • Swiss AviationSoftware
  • Swiss Aviation Training
  • Swiss WorldCargo
  • SWISStours[24]

On European flights, Swiss serves drinks. Depending on the time of day and the duration of the flight, Swiss may also serve snacks. Cold snacks are served on shorter flights, hot ones on longer flights. Economy class service includes sandwiches from a Swiss bakery.[25] Swiss chocolate is provided to passengers prior to landing on most flights. For its Geneva services on Bombardier CSeries (Airbus A220) aircraft a buy on board system called Swiss Saveurs is available. Business or Economy Flex/Classic passengers get a free beverage and sandwich. [1] [67]

Swiss' Airtrain service allows passengers to take any SBB train at no extra charge from Zurich Airport to Basel SBB railway station.[26] Swiss previously operated a Swissbus service from Ottawa Railway Station to Dorval Airport in Montreal.[27]

Destinations


Swiss International has codeshare agreements with the following airlines:[28]

Swiss International has interline agreements with the following airlines:[28]

Fleet


As of September 2019 the Swiss International Air Lines fleet consists of the following aircraft:[29]

Swiss carrier Helvetic Airways operates ten Embraer 190 aircraft on behalf of Swiss. Following Helvetic Airways' acquisition of the type, Helvetic Airways will also operate Embraer 190-E2 aircraft on behalf of Swiss.[52] Adria Airways operates a single Saab 2000 on the Zurich - Lugano route.

The Boeing 777-300ER and Airbus A220-100/-300 (Bombardier CS100/CS300) aircraft were operated by Swiss Global Air Lines until the subsidiary ceased operations in April 2018, in an attempt to lower administration costs and simplify Swiss' fleet structuring.[53]

The aircraft fleet has been named after local towns and cities since 2007. The names are featured on the aircraft fuselage, with cabin interiors showing the coat of arms of the town or city.[54]

On 22 September 2010, Lufthansa announced an order for 48 new aircraft, several of them for Swiss.[55]

In March 2013, Swiss ordered six Boeing 777-300ERs. On 12 March 2015, Swiss confirmed that the Lufthansa Group had ordered an additional three Boeing 777-300ERs for Swiss.[56] The 777s will be operated by, and leased back from, Swiss Global Air Lines.[57] Swiss has confirmed that all 777-300ERs will have an updated First Class cabin with eight private suites and a 32-inch TV, 62 business class seats which convert into a fully flat bed that is over two meters long, and 270 economy seats, with 10 seats abreast in a 3-4-3 layout, using the same seat pitch and width on its A330s and A340s on the 777s.[58] The first of these new airliners was delivered in January 2016[59] and is Swiss's first Boeing aircraft.[60] The Boeing aircraft will replace most of Swiss' current A340 aircraft, the remaining five A340s will be refurbished.

In 2014, Swiss announced it would refurbish its A320 fleet, with new interiors and the older A320s and A321s will be replaced by A320/A321neos. The A319s, along with Swiss Global Air Lines' Avro fleet, will be replaced by Bombardier CS300 aircraft in due course. The last remaining Avro RJ100 aircraft, HB-IYZ, completed its last flight, LX7545 from Geneva to Zurich on 15 August 2017.[61]

Swiss' first CS300/A220-300 (to replace RJ100s plus older A319/A320s) entered service at Geneva on 1 June 2017 - with its maiden commercial flight as Geneva - London Heathrow. Swiss was the launch customer of the entire Airbus A220 (formerly known as Bombardier CSeries) family of aircraft, with its first CSeries aircraft, a CS100 (A220-100), delivered to the airline in June 2016, registered HB-JBA. The first commercial flight it performed was Zurich - Paris CDG.

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