Tag Archives: Swiss International Air Lines

Swiss launches ‘Best of Swiss Taste of Switzerland’ and introduces new service concept for long-haul Business Class

Swiss International Air Lines has made this announcement:

Swiss will be offering Business and First Class guests a selection of the best top chefs’ creations of the past few years under its ‘Swiss Taste of Switzerland’ program on long-haul services from Switzerland from the beginning of September. At the same time, Swiss is introducing a new Business Class service concept for all its long-haul flights that enables travelers to bring greater individuality to their air travel experience and decide for themselves when they want to eat during their flight.

For six months from today onwards, Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) will be offering Business and First Class travelers on its long-haul services from Switzerland selected creations from top Swiss-based chefs who have participated in the airline’s ‘Swiss Taste of Switzerland’ inflight culinary program over the past few years. The dishes, which are accompanied as usual by Swiss regional wines and speciality cheeses, reflect the broad variety of Switzerland’s cuisine. Of the 70 guest chefs drawn from all the country’s cantons who have been spotlighted on board since the award-winning program began back in 2002, Silvia Manser, Silvio Germann, Jean-Marc Soldati, Mike Wehrle, Thomas Amstutz, Hans-Jörg and Anja Zingg, Franck Reynaud, Christian Kuchler, Lorenzo Albrici and Rolf Hiltl are currently featured aloft.

Veal tenderloin with black truffle sauce and blueberry slice with Appenzeller beer ice cream in First Class

SWISS First travelers can look forward to two dishes from Mike Wehrle of Bürgenstock Hotels & Resorts: a starter of marinated lobster with pecorino cheese and cauliflower panna cotta, followed by veal tenderloin with black truffle sauce. The choice of main courses further includes sautéed cod with seafood nage and potato and fennel brandade, the creation of Silvio Germann of IGNIV by Andreas Caminada in Bad Ragaz. The SWISS First menu is rounded off by a choice of two desserts which includes a blueberry slice with chocolate crumble and Appenzeller beer ice cream by Silvia Manser of Restaurant Truube in Gais.

First Class guests are further treated to a selection of speciality Swiss cheeses that include an Aletsch Grand Cru from Canton Valais and a Swiss Style 10, which is Switzerland’s homage to Britain’s Stilton cheese. The choice of Swiss wines on offer extends to a Chasselas Clos du Boux 2020 Grand Cru Epesses from Luc Massy of Canton Vaud and a Ligornetto 2018 DOC Ticino red from Luigi Zanini of Canton Ticino.

Beetroot tabbouleh with green pea guacamole and ‘Meat Love’ meatloaf in Business Class

For SWISS Business travelers, the choice of SWISS Taste of Switzerland starters newly extends to a vegetarian option: a beetroot tabbouleh with green pea guacamole from Zurich’s Hiltl vegetarian restaurant, which is offered alongside a Balik salmon sashimi with avocado, cucumber and wasabi vinaigrette by Christian Kuchler of the Taverne zum Schäfli in Wigoltingen. Business Class guests have a choice of main courses, too, which includes a ‘Meat Love’ meatloaf with morel sauce created by Anja and Hans-Jörg Zingg of the el paradiso Mountain Club in St. Moritz. The menu concludes with the sweet delight of a cheesecake with chocolate sponge and citrus fruits by Franck Reynaud of the Hostellerie du Pas de l’Ours in Crans-Montana.

The speciality cheeses on offer to SWISS Business guests include a Passo dello Spluga from the Splügen Alpine Dairy and a Fette Berta by Ueli Moser from the Seeland region. The choice of Swiss wines extends to a Château de Châtagneréaz 2019 Chasselas from Canton Vaud and a Syrah Classique AOC 2019 from the Domaine Jean-René Germanier in Canton Valais.

A new Business Class service concept for a more individual flight experience

SWISS now also offers its Business Class travelers a new and more individualized service concept on all long-haul flights. In addition to the traditional ‘restaurant’ service in which the meals are served one course at a time, guests can now take advantage of a new ‘casual dining’ option in which they receive their starter, main course and dessert together and at a time of their choosing. The new service options, which are introduced today, enable the guest to tailor their inflight experience even more closely to their specific wishes and needs.

In a further innovation, the additional service shortly before landing has been replaced by a new ‘SWISS Bistro’ concept. This consists of a new bistro menu inviting guests to choose from a range of hot items (such as a Swiss prime beef burger with coleslaw salad), cold items and snacks according to their individual tastes and hunger at any time after the main service until shortly prior to landing.

Swiss introduces mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for crews

Swiss International Air Lines issued this statement:

Swiss is making COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for its entire flying personnel from mid-November onwards, for operational reasons and under its duty of care towards its employees.

Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) is making vaccination against COVID-19 mandatory for all its flying personnel from November 15 onwards. The action has been taken in response to national entry restrictions worldwide, which are seeing an increasing insistence on proof of such vaccination for air crews, too. Hong Kong recently became the first SWISS destination to demand – with immediate effect – proof of COVID-19 vaccination for crews arriving from certain countries, Switzerland included.

A separate organizational management of vaccinated and unvaccinated crew members and the resulting increased complexity of the rostering involved would make it impossible to ensure continued robust and reliable flight operations in the longer term. Some destinations and regions could no longer be served, and this in turn would seriously diminish the effectiveness of the SWISS hub system. The separate handling of the two crew categories would also entail their unequal treatment in rostering terms. In addition, as a globally operating airline, and given the sufficient availability of effective COVID vaccines, SWISS also wishes to perform to the full its duty of care towards its cockpit and cabin personnel.

“We must initiate this action now,” says SWISS CEO Dieter Vranckx, “if we are to continue to maintain our global route network and fulfill our care obligations towards our employees.”

In adopting its new vaccination requirement, SWISS is supported by corresponding provisions in the collective labour agreements for its cockpit and its cabin personnel, which provide for such action under such conditions. SWISS is also conducting an open and transparent dialogue with its social partners on the mandate planned.

Swiss reports first half operating loss of CHF 398 million

Swiss International Air Lines issued this financial report for the first half of 2021:

As a result of the still-dynamic pandemic development and the resulting major impediments to travel activity worldwide, SWISS incurred an operating loss of CHF 398.2 million for the first six months of 2021 (H1 2020: CHF  266.4 million). Strict cost and cash management combined with consistent network and capacity control helped keep the loss within reasonable bounds, and a positive operating cash flow was generated in the second-quarter period. Total first-half revenues amounted to CHF 659.3 million, a 43.5% decline from their prior-year level (H1 2020: CHF 1.17 billion). As last year, the second quarter brought a slight upturn in business volumes as the summer travel season approached. But the situation remains extremely tense. With a view to restoring its investment capability and maintaining its competitive edge, SWISS has embarked on a comprehensive restructuring and transformation that extend to reductions in both its personnel numbers and its aircraft fleet.

The continuing travel restrictions in response to still-dynamic pandemic developments severely depressed business and results for Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) in the first half of the present year, too. With booking levels still low and passenger numbers some two thirds below their prior-year equivalent, total revenues for the first-half period were 43.5% down from their 2020 level at CHF 659.3 million (H1 2020: CHF 1.17 billion). The extremely weak demand on the passenger front was partially offset by still strong demand for air cargo services. The operating result or Adjusted EBIT for the period amounted to CHF -398.2 million, a 49.5% decline (H1 2020: CHF -266.4 million). The larger loss in 2021 is attributable to the fact that the first two months of 2020 were largely free of the pandemic’s effects.

“Given the still adverse business and operating conditions, we performed well under the circumstances in the first half of this year,” concludes SWISS CFO Markus Binkert. “Thanks to our rigorous cost and cash management combined with consistent network and capacity control, we kept our operating loss within reasonable bounds, and generated a positive operating cash flow in the second-quarter period. According to our present projections, we do not expect to have to use more than about half of our bank credit facility, and we are currently well below this.”

Slight upturn in the second-quarter period

As last year, SWISS saw a slight upturn in business from April onwards as the summer travel season approached. Second-quarter revenues were also 47.6% up on their 2020 level at CHF 359.7 million (Q2 2020: CHF 243.7 million). Adjusted EBIT for the period amounted to CHF -197.2 million. This was 8.2% below its prior-year level (Q2 2020: CHF -182.3 million); but 2021 second-quarter earnings were also depressed by the operating costs incurred in ramping up flight operations and by restructuring costs.

“The slight upturn in business that we have seen in the last few weeks should not disguise the fact that, with further pandemic developments still hard to predict, the situation remains extremely tense,” says SWISS CEO Dieter Vranckx. “But despite all these imponderables, we will continue to perform our mission and mandate as The Airline of Switzerland and offer our guests a range of air services that is as broad and as reliable as possible.”

Passenger numbers still very low

Passenger numbers remained very low in the first-half period. In the first six months of 2021 SWISS 1) transported around a million travellers, 67.5% 2) fewer than in the prior-year period, whose early months were not affected by the coronavirus pandemic. SWISS performed 13,060 flights in the first half of 2021, 56% fewer than in the same period last year. First-half systemwide capacity was 38.7% down in available seat-kilometre (ASK) terms, while total traffic volume for the period, measured in revenue passenger-kilometres, saw a 71.2% decline. First-half systemwide seat load factor amounted to 33.4%, a year-on-year decline of 37.8 percentage points. Seat load factor was substantially higher on European services than on long-haul routes. Passenger numbers for the second quarter of 2021 were significantly higher than for the first-quarter period. While SWISS only carried around 63,000 passengers in February, the weakest month, some 362,000 travellers were transported in the strongest month of June.

Two thirds of the aircraft fleet now back in service

With the increased demand for air travel in the current summer travel season, SWISS continues to ramp up its flight operations. Two thirds of the aircraft fleet are now back in use. And by the end of June SWISS had restored service to over 90% of the destinations it had served in pre-coronavirus times, albeit with fewer frequencies. But total production is still well below that of pre-corona times, and capacity is currently at around 50-55% of its 2019 level. SWISS now expects its production for 2021 as a whole to be about 40% of 2019’s. The key to any further substantial recovery remains a reopening of the USA, which is SWISS’s most important traffic region.

Comprehensive transformation initiated

In response to the structural market changes that the coronavirus pandemic has prompted, SWISS has embarked on a comprehensive restructuring and transformation that include reductions in both its workforce numbers and the size of its aircraft fleet. These actions are designed to achieve sustainable savings of some CHF 500 million and enable the company to regain its ability to invest and retain its competitive edge. Thanks to a constructive consultation procedure, the workforce reduction is smaller than was originally expected.
To strengthen its premium positioning in the growing leisure travel field, SWISS will be offering a new Premium Economy Class from the fourth quarter of 2021 onwards. The company is also aligning its business model even more strongly to sustainability criteria. It aims to halve its carbon dioxide emissions from their 2019 level by 2030, and to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The company also took delivery of its 30th Airbus A220 at the end of May, marking a further milestone in the biggest fleet renewal project in its history. And SWISS has further established the first-ever end-to-end logistics chain for importing sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) into Switzerland, in collaboration with various partners. It has thus become the first commercial airline to use SAF in its scheduled flight operations from Switzerland.

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 1) Excluding Edelweiss
 2) In line with the provisions and practice of the Lufthansa Group, SWISS has modified the definitions used in its traffic volume reporting, with retroactive effect to 1 January 2021. This is also reflected in the corresponding year-on-year comparisons.

Swiss becomes first commercial airline to fly from Switzerland with sustainable aviation fuel

Swiss International Air Lines made this announcement:

SWISS has established the first-ever end-to-end logistics chain for importing sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) to Switzerland in collaboration with various partners. This makes SWISS the first commercial airline to use SAF in its scheduled flight operations from Switzerland. Thanks to its highly advanced aircraft such as the A32Xneo family, SWISS’s initial SAF delivery is sufficient to fuel more than 175 flights. SWISS customers can pay full regard to environmental care in their air travels by promoting the use of SAF via the Compensaid program. Subject to further development, including a scaling-up of production, the use of SAF can sustainably reduce carbon emissions.

Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) has teamed up with Neste, one of the world’s leading sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) providers to establish the first-ever end-to-end logistics chain for importing SAF to Switzerland. This makes SWISS the first commercial airline to use SAF in its scheduled flight operations from Switzerland. Aircraft fuel with a biogenic component has been importable to and usable in Switzerland since 1 July 2021, thanks to new customs provisions.

First SAF delivery sufficient for over 175 flights

SWISS’s first delivery of neat SAF amounts to more than 460 tons. With SWISS’s highly advanced aircraft such as the A32Xneo family, this is mathematically sufficient to fuel more than 175 flights. SAF will be fuelled at Zurich Airport via the conventional hydrant system. The Neste SAF blend is Jet A-1 certificated, and can be used just like fossil jet fuel on all aircraft types without any modifications required to the aircraft or its engines.

Neste’s SAF is made from sustainably-sourced renewable waste and residue raw materials. In its neat form, and viewed over its full life cycle, its use can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 80 per cent compared to fossil fuels. Its production was certificated for its sustainability credentials by the independent Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) in April of this year. Neste can draw on many years of experience in producing biofuels, and also on a long-standing and fruitful collaboration with the Lufthansa Group.

SWISS customers can use Compensaid to help promote the use of SAF

This first SAF import is thanks not least to the environmental commitment of SWISS’s customers via the Compensaid (swiss.compensaid.com) platform. Through a partnership that was established in 2019, SWISS offers its customers the option, when booking their flight, of buying sustainable aviation fuel via Compensaid to reduce the carbon emissions caused by their air travel.

SAF a key technology for carbon-neutral flying

SAF has a vital role to play in decarbonizing air transport. In view of this, SWISS considers it crucial that the commercialization and market introduction of SAF should be driven and promoted in an internationally coordinated way. With its first import of SAF to Switzerland and its associated actions to establish full SAF logistics, SWISS is underlining its own intention to support SAF’s market introduction.

SWISS has been working together with the Lufthansa Group for several years now to promote research into and the trialling and adoption of sustainable aviation fuels. The Lufthansa Group was doing pioneering work here as early as 2011, when it conducted the world’s first long-term trials of biofuels in Lufthansa’s scheduled flight operations in cooperation with Neste.

Swiss presents its new Premium Economy Class

Swiss International Air Lines has unveiled its new Premium Economy Class, which will supplement its existing Economy, Business and First classes of travel from the fourth quarter of this year. SWISS Premium Economy Class travelers will enjoy greater privacy and enhanced inflight comfort, a major contributor to which will be the newly developed fixed-backshell seat. Premium Economy customers will also be offered a wide range of inflight cuisine, along with double the Economy Class registered baggage allowance and priority boarding. The new Premium Economy Class cabin will gradually be installed aboard all 12 of SWISS’s long-haul Boeing 777-300ERs, and is bookable from today. In introducing its new Premium Economy Class, SWISS is further strengthening its premium positioning in the growing leisure travel segment.

Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) presented the key product and service features of its new Premium Economy Class today, and also launched the sales of its new class of travel. Premium Economy Class supplements SWISS’s existing Economy, Business and First Class cabins.

The new Premium Economy Class will be gradually installed aboard SWISS’s 12 Boeing 777-300ER aircraft from the fourth quarter of this year. The entire SWISS Boeing 777-300ER fleet will feature the new Premium Economy Class cabin by the start of the 2022 summer schedules. In line with general market pricing, the one-way fare for the new Premium Economy Class will be around CHF 250 to 350 higher than its Economy Class equivalent.

Newly developed seat for greater privacy and more inflight comfort

Each SWISS Boeing 777-300ER will be equipped with 24 latest-generation Premium Economy Class seats from seat manufacturer ZIM. The comfortable seat is simple to recline, and is integrated into a fixed backshell to ensure zero intrusion into the personal space of the passenger behind. The new seat is wider than an Economy Class seat, too: between 46 and 48 centimeters, compared to 43.4. And seat pitch has been extended from the 78.7 centimeters of Economy Class to 99 centimeters, which translates into substantially more legroom. The new Premium Economy Class seat further features a greater recline, and is additionally equipped with a fold-out leg rest. The seat’s covers have been produced by Lantal of Bern, Switzerland. To add to their on-board comfort, SWISS Premium Economy travelers will be issued with a complimentary amenity kit that is specifically manufactured using sustainable materials. They will also receive their own high-quality noise-reducing headphones that will further enhance the film or the music experience offered via the seat’s 15.6-inch inflight entertainment monitor. Personal reading lamps will provide suitable lighting on night-flight services; and electronic devices can be charged using the seat’s in-built USB-A socket.

A wide culinary offer

SWISS’s inflight cuisine has also been specially tailored to the new class of travel. Premium Economy travelers will be offered a refreshing elderberry welcome drink, and will be able to choose from three hot meals all served on china tableware. The selection here will include a dish from the award-winning ‘SWISS Taste of Switzerland’ inflight culinary program, together with a vegetarian option supplied by Hiltl, the world’s oldest vegetarian restaurant. “Our Premium Economy guests will be able to choose their inflight meal according to their personal wishes and tastes,” CCO Goudarzi Pour explains. “And we’ll also be able to count on our long-standing partnership with Hiltl for our vegetarian offerings, for which we’re seeing an ever-growing demand.”

Twice as much registered baggage and preferred boarding

SWISS Premium Economy customers will enjoy a much-enhanced travel experience on the ground, too. At two bags of up to 23 kilos each, their registered baggage allowance is double that of Economy Class travelers. They can take advantage of reduced-rate access to the SWISS Business Lounges at Zurich and Geneva airports and the SWISS Arrival Lounge at Zurich Airport. They will enjoy priority boarding over Economy Class travelers. And they will be able to download two publications from the extensive eJournals portal onto their digital device free of charge ahead of their flight.

Bookable now for travel from April 2022

The new Premium Economy Class will be gradually installed aboard SWISS’s Boeing 777-300ER aircraft from the fourth quarter of this year. The new class is bookable from today (28 June) for travel from April 2022 on the entire Boeing 777-300ER route network. Destinations served by SWISS with this aircraft type include Bangkok, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco, São Paulo or Singapore. Depending on the further development of the present pandemic, the new Premium Economy Class may also be established sooner as a standard product on some of these routes. During the introductory phase, upgrade options are offered for a fee, subject to availability.

The new SWISS Premium Economy Class can also be experienced live and full-size in a 3D augmented reality model.

Swiss reduces dismissals for operational reasons, will reduce its fleet by 15%

First A321neo, delivered September 18, 2020

Swiss International Air Lines has has made this announcement:

Swiss is currently faced with structural changes to its market, and expects to see a lasting 20-percent decline in customer demand in the medium term. Thanks to a constructive consultation procedure, however, the corresponding workforce reduction of 550 dismissals for operational reasons, including dismissals in the event of non-acceptance of changed employment terms, is smaller than was expected as recently as last month. In total, SWISS will have downsized its workforce by some 1,700 full-time equivalents by the end of 2021, with two thirds of this reduction achieved through voluntary measures and natural staff turnover. As projected, the SWISS aircraft fleet will also be reduced by 15 per cent. SWISS is living up to all its social responsibilities in all these actions, and is ensuring that these unavoidable dismissals for operational reasons pay maximum regard to all social considerations.

Against the background of the structural ramifications of the coronavirus crisis and what is expected to be a lasting 20-per-cent decline in customer demand in the medium term, Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) initiated the consultation procedure which was required by law in view of its planned restructuring (see here for details) on 6 May. At the time, up to 780 SWISS employees among the company’s ground and flying personnel potentially faced dismissal for operational reasons (or dismissal in the event of their non-acceptance of changed employment terms) as a result of the projected 15-per-cent reduction in the size of the SWISS aircraft fleet.

After the conclusion of the consultation period which had subsequently been extended to a full three weeks, SWISS was able to reduce the number of such unavoidable dismissals for operational reasons to 550 together with its social partners. By the end of 2021, SWISS will thus have downsized its workforce by around 1,700 full-time equivalents or over 20 per cent, with two thirds of this reduction achieved through voluntary measures and natural staff turnover. The size of the SWISS fleet will be reduced by 15 per cent as previously envisaged. The rescaling and transformation of the company under its ‘reach’ strategic programme should result in savings of some CHF 500 million.

Fewer dismissals for operational reasons following consultation procedure

The consultation procedure conducted offered SWISS’s social partners, its employees and their representatives the opportunity to submit suggestions on how potential dismissals could be avoided or reduced in number and/or how their impact could be mitigated. Over 770 such suggestions were received from the company’s employees. As a result, SWISS has been able to lower the total number of dismissals for operational reasons required from 780 to 550, a reduction of around one third. The 550 dismissals include 58 employees who will simultaneously be offered revised employment terms such as a reduction in their degree of employment or a change to their function, who will thus have the option of remaining with the company under the new terms.

SWISS is therefore compelled to issue ordinary notice to terminate employment to 492 employees in and outside Switzerland. Of these, 334 are cabin personnel, 101 are ground personnel and 57 serve in SWISS Technics. No reductions are being made to the company’s cockpit corps numbers; but in consultation with the Aeropers pilots’ staff association, the present cockpit staffing surplus will be managed in particular through a prescribed corps-wide work hours reduction, subject to agreement thereto by Aeropers members.

“I am truly sorry for all our employees who are being served notice,” says SWISS CEO Dieter Vranckx. “And it is with the deepest of regret that we are having to take this radical action in response to the structural changes that our industry is experiencing. We are convinced, though, that this is the right course to take if we are to repay our bank loans, regain our ability to invest and retain our competitive credentials.”

SWISS will now aim to promptly conclude this phase of uncertainty and implement its rescaling and transformation with all possible speed. The dismissals required will be effected with full observance of all the stipulations made by the Swiss Confederation in connection with its guarantees for SWISS’s bank loan facilities, with full application of the relevant ‘Sozialplan’ severance benefits plans and with full regard to all further social considerations. All the employees concerned will also be offered the extensive services and support of a partner outplacement agency.

15 percent fleet reduction confirmed

The present SWISS fleet of more than 90 of its own aircraft and those operated on its behalf by Helvetic Airways under wet-lease arrangements will be reduced by 15 percent from its 2019 size as planned in response to the decline in demand. Which five Airbus long-haul aircraft (A330s or A340s) and which ten short-haul aircraft will be withdrawn to this end is yet to be decided. On the short- and medium-haul fleet front, the reduction in the number of Helvetic Airways aircraft operated on SWISS’s behalf will be proportionately higher than the number of SWISS’s own aircraft withdrawn. SWISS is also considering modifications to its route portfolio, reductions in frequencies and a delayed resumption of services to some long-haul destinations.

“In the future SWISS will be smaller. But it will also be more focused, more digital, more efficient and more sustainable,” says Vranckx. “The transformation planned will be conducted over the next three years through our ‘reach’ strategic program, with which we aim to realign our company to the changed market situation and achieve sustainable cost savings of some CHF 500 million.”

SWISS’s current production is still substantially below that of pre-pandemic times. In high summer, capacity is likely to be at around 50 to 55 percent of its 2019 levels. For 2021 as a whole, SWISS expects its total production to be about 40 percent of that of 2019.

In June and July SWISS will newly fly or resume services to 49 destinations from Zurich and Geneva, and will operate a total of 125 routes in high summer.

Top Copyright Photo: Swiss International Air Lines Airbus A321-271NX WL HB-JPA (msn 9417) ZRH (Rolf Wallner). Image: 951392.

Swiss aircraft slide show:

Swiss plans restructuring in response to structural market change, fleet to shrink, jobs at stake

First A321neo, delivered September 18, 2020

Swiss International Air Lines made this announcement:

In view of the continuing global coronavirus pandemic and the resulting structural changes in its markets, SWISS has concluded that a restructuring of the company now seems unavoidable. In the medium-term future, the company expects to see a structural decline of 20 per cent in overall demand. In response to this, the SWISS aircraft fleet should now be downsized from its 2019 extent by a projected 15 per cent. With due regard to the workforce resizing via voluntary measures and natural staff turnover that has been under way since 2020, this would also entail a total workforce reduction of around 1,700 full-time positions or over 20 per cent. It could also entail forced dismissals for up to 780 ground and flying personnel. SWISS has now initiated a consultation procedure to find solutions that are as socially responsible as possible, in collaboration with its employees and its social partners. Despite the restructuring measures now taking shape, all the stipulations of the Swiss Confederation in connection with its bank loan guarantees would continue to be met. SWISS will also continue to pursue its premium positioning, maintain its operations from both Zurich and Geneva and ensure that Switzerland remains connected with the world.

One year on from the outbreak of the global coronavirus pandemic, air transport activities remain very subdued. The impact of COVID-19 on aviation has been far more substantial than was the case with previous exogenous shocks, and has shaken the industry to an unprecedented extent. Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) also finds itself confronted with the greatest challenge it has faced in its corporate history. The company responded swiftly to the pandemic’s outbreak and initiated comprehensive cost-saving measures to counter the crisis and the growing threat to its liquidity (for further details please see the media release on SWISS’s 2021 first-quarter results of 29 April 2021).

Restructuring now seems unavoidable

In view of the continuing absence of any industry recovery, a restructuring of SWISS that extends beyond the cost-saving measures already initiated now appears inevitable. “It has grown increasingly clear that our market is undergoing structural change, and that despite the actions which we were swift to take in response, a restructuring of our company now sadly seems unavoidable,” says SWISS CEO Dieter Vranckx.

In the medium-term future, SWISS expects to see a structural decline of 20 per cent in overall demand. “With our new ‘reaCH’ strategic program, we are aligning ourselves to the changed market situation,” Vranckx continues. “reaCH includes a corporate resizing and transformation that should achieve sustainable overall cost savings of some CHF 500 million. Our aim is to repay our bank loans as promptly as possible and to sustainably retain our competitive credentials and regain our ability to invest.”

Aircraft fleet likely to be downsized 15 percent

The present SWISS fleet of 90 of its own aircraft and the transports of Helvetic Airways which operate SWISS services on SWISS’s behalf under wet-lease agreements will be resized in line with the decline in demand, and is likely to be reduced by 15 percent from its 2019 size. As a result, the short- and medium-haul fleet would be downsized from 69 to 59 aircraft through the withdrawal of Airbus A320-family equipment and a reduction in the wet-lease operations. On the long-haul front SWISS plans to reduce its fleet from 31 to 26 aircraft, by withdrawing five of its long-haul Airbuses.

As a result of the declines in demand, frequencies are likely to be reduced from their 2019 levels on both short- and medium-haul and long-haul routes. In addition, services may not yet be restored at all on a few direct intercontinental routes. All these plans and proposals would continue to pay full regard to the Swiss Confederation’s proviso when guaranteeing the requisite bank loans, i.e. that SWISS’s flight program should continue to be developed in proportion to the overall flight program of the airlines of the Lufthansa Group.

Up to 780 employees could be affected

The envisaged downsizing of the SWISS aircraft fleet and the adoption of further measures would also have an impact on the size of the future SWISS workforce1. By the end of 2021, the company will already have reduced this by over 1,000 full-time equivalents (FTEs) through a combination of voluntary personnel measures and natural staff turnover. But a further downsizing now looks impossible to avoid. As part of the resizing planned, up to 780 employees (650 FTEs) could be affected: around 200 ground personnel, 60 at SWISS Technics, 400 cabin personnel and 120 cockpit personnel. The resulting overall elimination of some 1,700 FTEs would be a reduction of more than 20 per cent from the workforce’s 2019 level.

In view of the structural change that is now being seen in the market, this action would need to be taken regardless of any further extension of the present short-time working arrangements. “I immensely regret that, after so many years of success with such a great team, we now have to consider such a painful step,” says CEO Vranckx. “Unfortunately, the situation remains challenging in the extreme, and continues to demand rigorous cost discipline and efficiency. We are convinced, though, that with the restructuring we envisage, we would emerge from this crisis all the stronger and all the more able to return SWISS to sustainable success in the ‘New Normal’.”

Consultation procedure initiated

The consultation procedure that has now been initiated in connection with the envisaged restructuring will see SWISS work with its social partners, its employees and their representatives to find further solutions which could keep the numbers of any forced dismissals required as low as possible and could ensure that any such dismissals were conducted with optimum regard to their social ramifications. This, too, would comply with the provisos under which the Swiss Confederation undertook to guarantee SWISS’s bank loans.

‘Sozialplan’ severance benefits plans are already in place for all SWISS personnel groups except its cockpit personnel. Since the present collective labour agreement for the company’s cockpit personnel includes protection from dismissal, a solution will now need to be found with the pilots’ AEROPERS association at the negotiating table to tackle the structural cockpit staffing surplus.

The consultation procedure and the subsequent evaluation phase are expected to be concluded by mid-June. SWISS will then communicate its corresponding decisions.

Premium positioning remains – even stronger emphasis on sustainability

As The Airline of Switzerland, even after any restructuring and with a smaller aircraft fleet, SWISS will still operate a large part of its previous network and thus continue to perform its mission of meeting the air transport needs of the Swiss economy, the people of Switzerland and the Swiss tourism sector in line with the new demands. To these ends, SWISS also remains fully committed to its two Swiss operating locations of Hub Zurich and Geneva, and will continue to provide direct intercontinental air services that keep Switzerland connected with the world. SWISS’s premium positioning will also remain unchanged: the company will, for instance, continue to offer a First Class on all its long-haul flights.

The resizing and transformation envisaged under the reaCH program also extend to an even stronger alignment of the SWISS business model to both sustainability considerations and structural change in the working world. This will centre in particular on steadily further modernizing the SWISS aircraft fleet, using sustainable aviation fuel and further developing and refining intermodal transport solutions. By adopting new work models and agile corporate structures, SWISS will also pay due and full regard to the structural changes in the working world; and the company will further continue to exploit all the new possibilities which are opened up by ever-growing digitalization.

Collaborations will also be intensified within the Lufthansa Group, with further synergies tapped. SWISS also aims to continue to strengthen its position within the Group by developing further competence centers, not least in the commercial area. And the already well-established collaboration with sister carrier Edelweiss will also be further pursued.

1 pre-pandemic as of 2019: 9,500 employees or 7,550 full-time equivalents

Top Copyright Photo: Swiss International Air Lines Airbus A321-271NX WL HB-JPA (msn 9417) ZRH (Rolf Wallner). Image: 951392.

Swiss aircraft slide show:

Swiss to trial IATA Travel Pass app

Swiss International Air Lines Airbus A320-271N WL HB-JDC (msn 10242) ZRH (Rolf Wallner). Image: 952963.

Swiss International Air Lines is to become the first airline in the Lufthansa Group to trial IATA’s new Travel Pass app, which it will do on its Zurich-London Heathrow route from April 22 onwards. The trial marks a major further step in making travel simple and reliable again during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Swiss has also been testing further such concepts since mid-March.

The new IATA Travel Pass app enables travelers to check up on the latest coronavirus-related entry provisions for their country of destination. It also allows them to have their COVID-19 test results sent directly to the app. This is turn enables the traveller to demonstrate to airlines and authorities that they meet the relevant entry requirements, without having to divulge further information about their personal health. The new app should also bring greater speed and efficiency to the corresponding airport procedures.

The new IATA Travel Pass app meets the strictest data protection requirements. All the user’s health details remain on the app: at no point are they transmitted or centrally stored, which assures the user of total control over all their personal data. The IATA Travel Pass has already been accepted as an official health document for entry purposes by the Singapore authorities.

Standardized parameters essential

“We support all endeavors to make travel simple and reliable again during the coronavirus pandemic,” says SWISS CEO Dieter Vranckx. “Digital health documents like the IATA Travel Pass are making an invaluable contribution to reconciling the demand for mobility with the need for health protection, to make it easier for our customers to plan their journeys with confidence and to restore the trust in travel as a whole. We still consider it essential that consistent, unified and mobility-promoting parameters are established and maintained, along with internationally recognized and standardized processes to deliver digital test and vaccination certifications. This is the only way to ensure that Switzerland can retain the international links that are so vital to the country in economic terms.”

Swiss testing further concepts, too

In addition to the IATA Travel Pass, Swiss is also evaluating the use of further digital solutions such as the EU Green Pass and the CommonPass.

Alongside these options, further trials are being conducted – since mid-March on its Newark (USA)-Zurich route and since the beginning of April on flights from Zurich to Spain and Portugal – under which Swiss travelers can upload their COVID test results to the swiss.com website up to 12 hours before starting their trip. These data will then be verified so that the traveller knows before departure whether they meet the official entry requirements of the country they are flying to. The current trials here should be extended to further Swiss routes, too.

The use of the IATA Travel Pass app and these digital document checks is optional. Swiss travelers are informed of all such options that are available to them in good time in advance of their planned travel.

Top Copyright Photo: Swiss International Air Lines Airbus A320-271N WL HB-JDC (msn 10242) ZRH (Rolf Wallner). Image: 952963.

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Swiss reports a substantial loss for 2020 owing to pandemic

Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) made this announcement:

The coronavirus pandemic and the resulting global entry restrictions have led to an unprecedented slump in demand for air travel and massive revenue declines. SWISS’s total revenues for 2020 of CHF 1.85 billion were a full 65.2 per cent below their prior-year level. Adjusted EBIT for the year amounted to CHF -654 million (2019: CHF 578 million). The very weak results for the fourth-quarter period further increased the losses for the year as a whole. Radical actions initiated as early as March 2020 helped stem the losses to a certain degree. But with ever-clearer signs since the beginning of 2021 that the airline industry is undergoing major structural change, SWISS is now considering further measures to ensure its future viability. Passenger volumes have shrunk to a quarter of their 2019 levels, and no tangible recovery is expected before mid-summer 2021. SWISS essentially welcomes all efforts to make travel simple and reliable again, and is counting on the adoption of appropriate mobility-promoting parameters here that are as standardized as possible.

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing collapse of travel activity worldwide, Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) suffered massive declines in its bookings and its revenues for the 2020 business year. The company consequently reported its first negative operating result for 15 years. Total revenues for the year amounted to CHF 1.85 billion, some 65.2 per cent below their prior-year level (2019: CHF 5.30 billion1)), and Adjusted EBIT for the year amounted to CHF -654 million (2019: CHF 578 million). The company’s Swiss WorldCargo division made a disproportionately high contribution to its 2020 results, in view of the strong demand for cargo transport services, not least for medicines and further medical items.

A very weak fourth quarter further increases losses for the year

As expected, SWISS’s operating losses further increased in the fourth quarter of 2020 as a result of the deterioration in the epidemiological situation. Fourth-quarter revenues totalled only CHF 311 million, a 75.7-per-cent decline on the prior-year period (Q4 2019: CHF 1.28 billion1)). Adjusted EBIT for the period amounted to CHF -239 million (Q4 2019: CHF 89 million).

“The coronavirus pandemic and the resulting travel restrictions have posed a huge challenge for us,” says SWISS CEO Dieter Vranckx. “And this, combined with the air transport sector’s relatively high fixed costs, has meant that our industry has been hit a lot harder than others. We have radically reduced our costs in response – to preserve our liquidity and ensure that we are in the best possible business shape for the further challenges ahead.”

Extensive cost savings have their effect

As soon as the pandemic developed, SWISS initiated numerous actions to maintain its liquidity and lower its costs, adopted short-time working companywide and deferred until further notice any projects and further investments that were not essential to its operations. “Thanks to these immediate and drastic cost saving measures, and also to the strong contribution from Swiss WorldCargo, we were able to keep our losses for 2020 within reasonable bounds,” concludes SWISS CFO Markus Binkert. “We expected to report annual results of these dimensions, and have incorporated them into our financial and liquidity planning. What we didn’t expect,” he continues, “was for the situation to worsen again since the beginning of this year. We are still losing around CHF 2 million a day. So we now have to further intensify our cost saving endeavours.”

Action packages have already been agreed with the company’s social partners for its cabin crew members and its ground personnel. The negotiations with its pilots’ staff association Aeropers on a viable new collective labour agreement suited to the present crisis times have not yet been concluded.

The company also expects to have reduced its workforce by some 1,000 full-time positions by the end of 2021 through a combination of natural turnover, early retirements and new part-time working arrangements. These actions also include a 20-per-cent reduction in the numbers of upper management personnel. And SWISS is further reducing its Management Board from four to three members: Chief Operating Officer Thomas Frick (61) will step down from his function as planned at the end of March 2021, but will remain active for the company under a project-based arrangement. “We would like to thank Thomas Frick already for his many years of outstanding service and commitment to our company,” says CEO Dieter Vranckx. “Throughout that time he has ably proven all his skills and expertise – not only as a member of our cockpit crew corps, but also in the various management positions he has held, most recently on our Management Board in these extremely demanding times.” As in the past, the COO function will now be additionally performed by the CEO.

Structural changes require further restructuring measures

With renewed lockdowns and additional travel restrictions imposed in response to new coronavirus variants, and with the slow progress of vaccination programmes, the market situation has tangibly worsened since the beginning of this year. SWISS’s production for March is at only some 25 per cent of its 2019 levels, and the present minimal flight operations in Geneva have had to be extended until the end of this month. “The situation has substantially deteriorated since 2021 began,” confirms CEO Dieter Vranckx. “It is now abundantly clear that the entire airline industry will undergo tangible structural change. As a result, we at SWISS will also have to consider a more radical resizing than we have envisaged to date. And any reduction in the size of our aircraft fleet would also impact directly on our route network, our cost structures and our organizational structure. But no decisions have yet been taken here.”

Slump in passenger numbers

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted a slump in passenger volumes. SWISS2) transported a total of 4,790,372 passengers in 2020, some 74.5 per cent fewer than the previous year. A total of 48,069 flights were operated, a 68.2-per-cent year-on-year decline. Systemwide capacity for the year was 66.4 per cent down on 2019 in available seat-kilometre (ASK) terms. Total traffic volume, measured in revenue passenger-kilometres (RPK), was 76.8 per cent below its prior-year level. Systemwide seat load factor amounted to 57.9 per cent, a year-on-year decline of 26.1 percentage points. Seat load factor for Europe was substantially higher than its long-haul equivalent.

No recovery before mid-summer; mobility-promoting parameters required

Unfortunately, the recovery which had been hoped for in the first quarter of 2021 has failed to materialize. But with further progress in COVID vaccinations and with demand likely to have been only deferred, SWISS still expects to have its capacities back to around 65 per cent of their 2019 levels in the course of the third-quarter period. Private travel is likely to recover sooner than business travel here.

“The present pandemic is posing our company its greatest-ever challenges,” CEO Dieter Vranckx concludes. “We have every confidence, though, that SWISS can continue to provide Switzerland with an extensive network of direct air services for both passengers and cargo all over the world. If we are to do so, however, we will need to have a set of mobility-promoting parameters in place that are as standardized as possible – which also means, for us, the equal treatment of all transport routes, means and modes.”

SWISS will continue to help its customers in all their travel plans by offering flexible rebooking options in all fare categories.

 

1) SWISS adopted new accounting principles at the end of 2019 in compliance with those of the Lufthansa Group. Total revenues of CHF 1.28 billion for the fourth quarter and of CHF 5.33 billion for the full year of 2019 were previously reported in March 2020.

2) excluding Edelweiss Air

Swiss takes off with Confiserie Sprüngli

Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) is extending its ‘SWISS Saveurs’ food and beverage concept for Economy Class travellers which has already proved such a success in Geneva to its short- and medium-haul services from and to Zurich from the end of March. In doing so, SWISS will be working exclusively with Confiserie Sprüngli, the long-established and internationally renowned Swiss family firm, whose recipes will be used for all the fresh items on the SWISS Saveurs menu. In compiling its new range of for-purchase inflight snacks and drinks, SWISS is putting a firm emphasis on offering a wider selection of items, on freshness and quality, on regional accents and on sustainable packagings. The new food concept will also bring other reputed Swiss brands on board along with smaller local suppliers. And SWISS will further be offering its own new mineral water from the Glarus Alps, which will be distributed to all travelers free of charge.

In introducing its SWISS Saveurs inflight culinary concept for short- and medium-haul Economy Class travelers from and to Zurich from 30 March onwards, Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) is embarking on an exclusive new partnership with Confiserie Sprüngli, the internationally renowned Swiss company which is now in the hands of the sixth generation of its original founding family. Established in 1836, Confiserie Sprüngli has long been a byword for Swiss chocolate tradition and for products of outstanding quality and freshness made with natural ingredients. In this unique collaboration, all the fresh items on the new SWISS Saveurs menu such as muesli, salads, sandwiches and sweet pastries will be prepared using recipes of this Zurich-based traditional Swiss company.

“We are delighted to have teamed up with such an internationally renowned yet locally based partner with such a long tradition and such a focus on culinary excellence for this collaboration, which will enable us to offer a wide range of fresh top-quality snacks to our Economy Class customers, too,” says SWISS Chief Commercial Officer Tamur Goudarzi Pour. “We’ll be breaking new ground here with our packagings as well, where we’ll be using sustainable materials wherever we possibly can.”

 

The new Sprüngli products will be available on short- and medium-haul services from and to Zurich from 30 March and on services from and to Geneva from 28 April. SWISS Saveurs will be offered on flights of 50 minutes or more duration. The new menu extends to Bircher muesli, a pretzel with air-dried beef, a vegetable brioche and Sprüngli’s famous Luxemburgerli mini-macaroons. The prices per item range from CHF 7.50 for a Bircher muesli or a sandwich to CHF 18.50 for a freshly prepared hot meal (on longer flights). The product range will be updated every three to six months. SWISS’s tried-and-trusted Business Class concept for its short- and medium-haul services remains unchanged.

Sustainability is a further key consideration with the new fresh products. Most SWISS Saveurs items will be packaged in PaperWise material, which is made from agricultural waste using only renewable energy, and is thus entirely carbon-neutral. Those items that cannot yet be offered in PaperWise packaging will be packed in FSC-certificated cardboard or kraft paper. Production of the new fresh items will also be more closely tailored to customer demand, which will help to minimize food waste.

Further Swiss classics and new discoveries

To provide its inflight guests with an even broader range of for-purchase SWISS Saveurs items, SWISS will be supplementing its new exclusive fresh Sprüngli products with further Swiss classics such as Ragusa, Kägi Fret, Zweifel chips and Caotina hot chocolate. And there’ll be smaller Swiss producers to discover, too: the coffee will come from the small Zurich-based miró manufactura de café roastery, which sources all its beans solely from fair-trade suppliers; and the beverages range will include a gin from Turicum of Zurich and WhiteFrontier craft beer from Martigny in Canton Valais.

The snacks and drinks will be priced between CHF 3 and CHF 12. And the full range of SWISS Saveurs items can be viewed on swiss.com. SWISS will continue to offer all its inflight guests its popular SWISS Chocolates, along with a complimentary bottle of water.

Exclusive ‘SWISS Altitude 1150’ mineral water for every inflight guest

Together with SWISS Saveurs, SWISS is also launching a new mineral water together with its water supplier RAMSEIER Suisse AG that is produced exclusively for the airline in Switzerland’s Glarus Alps: ‘SWISS Altitude 1150’, a name inspired by the source spring’s elevation at 1,150 metres above sea level. The new mineral water will be served only on SWISS flights, and will be distributed to all passengers free of charge in a recyclable bottle in an unmistakable SWISS design. In a first step, SWISS Altitude 1150 will be provided on SWISS’s short- and medium-haul services, with the offer then gradually extended throughout the SWISS long-haul network.

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