Swiss International Air Lines

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"SWISS" redirects here. For other uses, see Swiss (disambiguation).
"Swiss Airlines" redirects here. For the flag carrier of Switzerland before 2002, see Swissair.
Swiss International Air Lines AG
Swiss International Air Lines Logo 2011.svg
IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded 2002 (as Swiss Air Lines Ltd.)[1]
Hubs Zürich Airport
Focus cities Geneva Airport
Frequent-flyer program Miles & More
Airport lounge
  • SWISS First Lounge
  • SWISS Senator Lounge
  • SWISS Business Lounge
Alliance Star Alliance
Fleet size 68
Destinations 106 (in 48 countries [2])
Company slogan Our sign is a promise (English)
Unser Zeichen ist ein Versprechen (German)
Parent company Lufthansa Group
Headquarters EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg
near Basel, Switzerland
Register: Basel[3]
Key people Harry Hohmeister, President and CEO[4]
Revenue Decrease CHF5.305 billion(2015)[5]
Profit IncreaseCHF453 million (2015)[5]
Employees 8,565 (2015)

Swiss International Air Lines AG (short Swiss, stylized as SWISS) is the flag carrier[6] airline of Switzerland operating scheduled services in Europe and to North America, South America, Africa and Asia. Its main hub is Zurich Airport, with a focus city operation at Geneva Airport. The airline was formed after the 2002 bankruptcy of Swissair, Switzerland's former flag carrier.

Swiss is a member of the Star Alliance. It is a subsidiary of the Lufthansa Group, with headquarters at EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg near Basel, Switzerland, and an office at Zurich Airport in Kloten, Switzerland.[7] The company's registered office is in Basel.[8] The airline uses the IATA code LX that 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.



A former SWISS McDonnell Douglas MD-11 in 2003

Swiss was formed after the 2002 bankruptcy of Swissair, Switzerland's former flag carrier. Crossair had 40% of its income come from the defunct Swissair. The new airline's losses totaled $1.6 billion from startup until 2005. Swissair's biggest creditors, Credit Suisse and UBS, sold part of Swissair's assets to Crossair, the regional counterpart to the transatlantic Swissair. At the time, both Swissair and Crossair were under the same holding company, called SAirGroup. Crossair later changed its name to Swiss Air Lines, and the new national airline started its operations officially on 31 March 2002. The airline was first owned by institutional investors (61.3%), the 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 7,383 employees.[9]

According to Marcel Biedermann, the managing director 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.

The logo used by SWISS from 2002 until 2011.

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. The Swiss operations were gradually integrated with Lufthansa's from late 2005, and the takeover was completed on 1 July 2007. Swiss joined the Star Alliance and became a member of Lufthansa's Miles and More frequent flyer program on 1 April 2006.

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

In 2008 Swiss International Air Lines acquired Edelweiss Air[10] [11] and Servair[12] - now Swiss Private Aviation. From February 2011, Swiss Private Aviation ceased to operate as a result of internal reconstruction. The company recommended Lufthansa Private Jet Service as a succedaneum.[13]

The Swiss brand is well respected by travellers, as can be seen by the company coming top of the upmarket Condé Nast Traveler readers' survey[citation needed] for short haul flights in 2008.

In 2007 Swiss placed an order for 9 Airbus A330-300s to eventually replace the existing A330-200s. The A330-300 is more environmentally friendly and has three-class seating. As each A330-300 arrived, an A330-200 was retired from the fleet. The first A330-300 jet was put into service from Zurich to New York-JFK in April 2009. In spring 2010 Swiss operated 5 A330-300s for mid- and long-haul routes. The remaining 4 A330-300 aircraft joined the fleet in 2011.

Takeover by Lufthansa[edit]

Following Lufthansa Group takeover,[when?][14] the regional fleet was changed from Crossair's Embraer ERJs and Saabs to Avro RJs, which are flown by a wholly owned subsidiary, Swiss Global Air Lines. The rest of the fleet, apart from the regional jets, was also rationalised and is now mainly Airbus aircraft apart from the Boeing 777, which is operated by Swiss Global Air Lines.

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

In 2010, Swiss and Lufthansa were named in a European Commission investigation into price-fixing, but was not fined due to acting as a whistleblower.[15]

On 18 August 2011, Swiss announced a new logo for their company,[16] resembling the logo of the defunct Swissair.[17] The new logo lead to vivid online criticism, within days several protest groups on social media platforms appeared.[18][19]

Corporate affairs and identity[edit]

Head office[edit]

Swiss International Air Lines head office at EuroAirport

Swiss International Air Lines has its operational headquarters at EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg[20][21] near Basel, Switzerland.[9] This French-Swiss binational airport is located on French territory and has customs-free access to Switzerland.[22] The Swiss head office is located in the Swiss section of the airport, and it is only accessible from Switzerland.[23] According to the commercial register, the legal seat is in Basel itself.[24]

The current Swiss International Air Lines head office was formerly the head office of Crossair. In 2002 the name "Crossair" was replaced with "Swiss International Air Lines" on the head office building.[25] 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.[26]


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


Swiss destinations map (August 2015)[27]

In 2009, 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.

Codeshare agreements[edit]

Swiss International has codeshare agreements with most Star Alliance carriers, as well as a few SkyTeam and Oneworld carriers.[28]

Onboard services[edit]

On all intra-European flights, Swiss offers drink services. Depending on the time of day and the scheduled flight duration, Swiss may also offer snack services. On shorter flights, cold snacks are offered, and hot snacks are offered on longer flights. The Europe economy class services include sandwiches from a Swiss bakery.[30] In addition, Swiss chocolate is provided to passengers prior to landing on most flights.


Current fleet[edit]

SWISS Airbus A320-200 in the new livery with large titles and no engine logos (2015)
SWISS Airbus A330-300 in the new livery
SWISS Airbus A340-300 in the old livery
SWISS Boeing 777-300ER, wearing a special "Faces of Swiss" livery landing at New York-JFK
For the regional fleet, see Swiss Global Air Lines.

As of August 2016, Swiss International Air Lines operates the following aircraft:[31]

Swiss International Air Lines Fleet
Aircraft In Service Orders Passengers Notes
F C Y Total
Airbus A319-100 5 var. var. 138
Airbus A320-200 22 var. var. 168/180
Airbus A320neo 10[32] TBA
Airbus A321-100 6 var. var. 219
Airbus A321-200 3 var. var. 219
Airbus A321neo 5[32] TBA Deliveries 2019-2022
Airbus A330-300 14 8 45 183 236
Airbus A340-300 12 8 47 164 219 3 more leased aircraft to be withdrawn during 2016, 5 eventually remaining.[33][34]
Boeing 777-300ER 6 4[33][34] 8 62 270 340[35] Deliveries 2016-2017;[36][37][37] operated by Swiss Global Air Lines[38]
Total 68 19

The aircraft fleet is 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. The back-then latest fleet addition, an Airbus A330-300, was the first to follow this scheme, named Bern.[39]

Fleet development[edit]

Six second-hand Airbus A340-300s from Air Canada were added to the fleet to increase frequencies and launch new long-haul routes in summer 2008. Two Airbus A330-300s were also added to the fleet in 2006 to increase route frequencies.

In addition to Swiss's own fleet, a number of wet lease operation agreements are in effect. These include 4 Fokker 100 and 4 Embraer 190 aircraft operated by Swiss airline Helvetic Airways, and 4 Dash Q400 operated by Lufthansa Group subsidiary Austrian Airlines.

On 20 September 2007 Lufthansa confirmed an order for 41 aircraft.[40] Two of the Airbus A320 series and 9 Airbus A330 aircraft are intended for Swiss.

On 22 September 2010, Lufthansa announced an order for 48 new planes.[41] 5 of the ordered A330-300, 2 A320, and 2 A321 aircraft will go to Swiss

In March 2013, Swiss ordered six Boeing 777-300ERs. On 12 March 2015, Swiss confirmed that the Lufthansa Group has ordered an additional three Boeing 777-300ER for Swiss.[42] The 777s will be operated by and wetleased back from Swiss Global Air Lines.[38] Swiss has confirmed that all Boeing 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.[43] The first of these new airliners landed on 29 January 2016[44] at Zurich Kloten airport and is Swiss's first Boeing aircraft.[37]

In 2016 SWISS will begin introducing the brand new Bombardier CSeries aircraft as the successor to its existing Avro RJ100 fleet, which numbers 20 aircraft and is operated by Swiss Global Air Lines. 30 of the CSeries have been ordered,[45] 20 CS100s and 10 CS300s.[46]

SWISS received its first Boeing 777-300ER, HB-JNA, on 29 January 2016 when the aircraft arrived in Zurich Airport from Everett. Since the start of February the aircraft has performed many go-arounds at Palma de Mallorca for onboard personal training. HB-JNA flew its first commercial flight on 8 February 2016 and the airline has decided to use the aircraft for cockpit training on European routes, like Barcelona, Geneva, Frankfurt and other destinations.[47]


  1. ^ "Swiss, Facts & Figures". Retrieved 19 December 2010. 
  2. ^ "Facts and figures". 30 November 2014. Retrieved 6 December 2014. 
  3. ^ "Swiss International Air Lines AG." Office du Registre du commerce du canton de Bâle-Ville. Retrieved on 13 March 2008.
  4. ^ Kurt Hofmann (27 June 2011). "Swiss CEO forecasts difficult 2011 second half". Air Transport World. Retrieved 27 June 2011. Swiss International Air Lines CEO Harry Hohmeister told ATW he is expecting a difficult second half of 2011 for the carrier owing to high fuel prices, political unrest in the Middle East and North Africa and the natural and nuclear disasters in Japan. (subscription required)
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^ "Even SWISS is not immune to the LCC offensive". Centre for Aviation. 4 September 2012. Archived from the original on 4 September 2012. Retrieved 4 September 2012. Switzerland’s de facto flag carrier has started offering low-cost flights starting at CHF49 (EUR40/USD51) from Geneva to a number of popular destinations such as Madrid and Nice. 
  7. ^ "Swiss International Air Lines Zurich. Swiss International Air Lines" (PDF). Retrieved 25 December 2012. 
  8. ^ "Impressum." Swiss International Air Lines. Retrieved on 22 June 2010. "Rechtssitz der Gesellschaft Swiss International Air Lines AG Malzgasse 15 CH-4052 Basel."
  9. ^ a b "Swiss - Facts & Figures". Retrieved 23 February 2010. 
  10. ^ "Kuoni and SWISS enter into strategic partnership" (Press release). Retrieved 19 December 2010. 
  11. ^ "WEKO approves the acquisition of Edelweiss Air by SWISS" (Press release). Retrieved 19 December 2010. 
  12. ^ "SWISS acquires Servair to operate as Swiss Private Aviation" (Press release). Retrieved 19 December 2010. 
  13. ^ "Goodbye, with gratitude" (Press release). Retrieved 20 May 2011. 
  14. ^ Archived from the original on 24 October 2008. Retrieved 27 July 2009.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  15. ^ "Eleven airlines fined in European cargo cartel investigation". Retrieved 10 November 2010. 
  16. ^ SWISS renforce son positionnement et affine son image de marque, Swiss, 4 October 2011
  17. ^ New logo: Swiss International Air Lines, on 4 October 2011
  18. ^ Vaudan, Lucienne-Camille; Eppenberger, Simon (August 20, 2011). "Widerstand gegen das Ende des Swiss-Würfels". Tages-Anzeiger. Retrieved April 1, 2016. 
  19. ^ "Save the swiss cube". Facebook group. Retrieved April 1, 2016. 
  20. ^ "SWISS unveils foundation for solid future". Swiss International Air Lines. Retrieved 1 July 2010.  The Annual Results Press Conference takes place at 11:00, Tuesday, 23 March at the SWISS head office at Basel EuroAirport.
  21. ^ "Plan interactif". Saint-Louis (Haut-Rhin). Retrieved 25 September 2009. 
  22. ^ "How to find us". Farnair Europe. Retrieved 8 December 2010. 
  23. ^ "Swiss International Air Lines Basel" (PDF). Swiss International Air Lines. Retrieved 24 September 2009.  ATTENTION! It is only possible to reach SWISS at the EuroAirport Basel via the Swiss customs or the customs-free road!
  24. ^ (accessed on 16 February 2014)
  25. ^ "Industry Briefs". Airline Industry Information. 2 July 2002. Retrieved 12 January 2010.  According to a company statement, the new name replaces Crossair at the corporate headquarters in Basel.
  26. ^ "Wenn die Direktion geht, folgt dann der Rest?" (PDF). Basler Zeitung (in German). No. 173. 27 July 2004.  Ursprünglich arbeiteten am Hauptsitz in Basel rund 1400 bis 1500 Leute, heute sind es noch rund 1000 (das fliegende Personal nicht mitgezählt) – der meiste Teil der Stellen fiel der Restrukturierung vom letzten Jahr zum Opfer. In Zürich arbeiten derzeit rund 850 Personen am Boden. (Archive)
  27. ^ "Streckennetz - Alle Destination auf einen Blick - SWISS". Retrieved 24 April 2015. 
  28. ^ "Codeshare partner". Retrieved 10 May 2013. 
  29. ^ "Air China / SWISS to Start Codeshare Partnership from April 2015". 2 April 2015. Retrieved 2 April 2015. 
  30. ^ "SWISS Economy Europe." Swiss International Air Lines". Retrieved 25 December 2012. 
  31. ^ "FOCA - Swiss Aircraft Registry". Retrieved 21 August 2016. 
  32. ^ a b "Neue Swiss-Strategie". 
  33. ^ a b "Swiss to upgrade Airbus A340s with new first, business class". Australian Business Traveller. Retrieved 2016-10-08. 
  34. ^ a b "SWISS orders 10th Boeing 777; to refurbish Airbus A340-300 fleet". Retrieved 2016-10-08. 
  35. ^ "SWISS unveils the cabin product and route network for its new flagship Boeing 777-300ER". media release. Retrieved 9 July 2015. 
  36. ^ Lee Ferrara. "Lufthansa Group orders 6 Boeing 777-300ER Aircraft for Swiss Airlines [VIDEO]". Retrieved 24 April 2015. 
  37. ^ a b c "Boeing". Retrieved 24 April 2015.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "B773order" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  38. ^ a b " - Luftfahrt-Nachrichten und -Community". Retrieved 24 April 2015. 
  39. ^ Airliner World January 2007
  40. ^ "Lufthansa to order 41 Airbuses including nine A330s for Swiss". Flight Global. 20 September 2007. 
  41. ^ "Lufthansa Supervisory Board approves Group's order for 48 new aircraft" (Press release). Lufthansa. 22 September 2010. Retrieved 19 December 2010. 
  42. ^ "Swiss to order three Boeing 777-300ERs". Aviation Tribune. Retrieved 12 March 2015. 
  43. ^ "New Swiss 777 Business and First class cabins". Retrieved 10 July 2015. 
  44. ^ "Le nouveau Boeing 777 de Swiss a atterri à Zurich". Bilan. Retrieved 2016-02-01. 
  45. ^ "Bombardier". Retrieved 24 April 2015. 
  46. ^ "Swiss converts ten CS100 orders into CS300s". Retrieved 2016-02-13. 
  47. ^ 2016, UBM (UK) Ltd. "Update as of 17DEC15: SWISS Feb – Aug 2016 Boeing 777 European Operations". Retrieved 21 July 2016. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Swiss International Air Lines at Wikimedia Commons