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Swiss International Air Lines

Swiss International Air Lines AG
IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded 2002 (as Swiss Air Lines Ltd)[1]
Hubs Zurich 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 83 (including subsidiaries)[2]
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 Increase CHF 5.2 billion (2012)[5]
Profit IncreaseCHF 212 million (2012)
Employees 8,067 (April 2014)

Swiss International Air Lines AG (short: 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 International 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.


  • History 1
    • Beginnings 1.1
    • Recovery 1.2
    • Takeover by Lufthansa 1.3
  • Corporate affairs and identity 2
    • Head office 2.1
    • Subsidiaries 2.2
  • Destinations 3
    • Codeshare agreements 3.1
  • Onboard services 4
  • Fleet 5
    • Fleet development 5.1
  • References 6
  • External links 7



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, 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.

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 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 A333 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-long haul route. The remaining 4 A330-300 aircraft joined the fleet in 2011.

Takeover by Lufthansa

The original logo, used from 2002 to 2011. Some planes still use the old livery

Following Lufthansa Group takeover,[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 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 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

Head office

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

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

Onboard services

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.


As of August 2015, Swiss International Air Lines operates an all-Airbus of the following aircraft:[31]

The aircraft fleet is named after local towns and cities over 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.[38]

Fleet development

Six second-hand Airbus A340-300s 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 Tyrolean Airways.

On 20 September 2007 Lufthansa confirmed an order for 41 aircraft.[39] 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.[40] 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. They will be Swiss's first Boeing aircraft upon delivery in 2016[36] On 12 March 2015, Swiss confirmed that the Lufthansa Group has ordered an additional three Boeing 777-300ER for Swiss.[41] The 777s will be operated by and wetleased back from Swiss Global Air Lines.[37] Swiss has confirmed that all Boeing 777-300ERs will have an uprated 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 metres long, and 270 economy seats, with 10 seats abreast in a 3-4-3 layout.[42]

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,[43] 20 CS100s and 10 CS300s.[44]


  • Ken Donohue, "Swiss continues a proud tradition", Airways Magazine: A Global Review of Commercial Flight, March 2008, 22-23, 25, 28.
  1. ^
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ "Swiss International Air Lines AG." Office du Registre du commerce du canton de Bâle-Ville. Retrieved on 13 March 2008.
  4. ^ (subscription required)
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  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
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ [1]
  15. ^
  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. ^ [2], on 20 August 2011
  19. ^ [3], on 19 August 2011
  20. ^ The Annual Results Press Conference takes place at 11:00, Tuesday, 23 March at the SWISS head office at Basel EuroAirport.
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^ 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. ^ According to a company statement, the new name replaces Crossair at the corporate headquarters in Basel.
  26. ^ 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. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^ a b c
  33. ^
  34. ^ a b
  35. ^
  36. ^ a b c d
  37. ^ a b
  38. ^ Airliner World January 2007
  39. ^
  40. ^
  41. ^
  42. ^
  43. ^
  44. ^

External links

  • Official website
  • Swiss World Cargo
  • Swiss Aviation Training
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