Published on February 4th, 2016 | by Jim Lee


SWISS carries more passengers than ever in 2015 and gears up for new aircraft in 2016

Figures published by Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS), show that the airline transported 16,307,542 passengers in 2015 – an all-time record annual passenger total, and a 0.9% improvement on the 16,169,411 of 2014. The airline operated 145,146 flights during 2015, up 0.7% on the 144,116 of the previous year. Of these, 126,715 were within Europe (up 0.6%) and 18,431 (up 1.2%) were on intercontinental routes.

Total annual capacity was raised 1.1% year-on-year in available seat-kilometre (ASK) terms. Total traffic volume, measured in revenue passenger-kilometres (RPK), increased by 0.8%. The European network saw a 0.1% reduction in ASK capacity and a 1.1% increase in RPK traffic volume, while the intercontinental network witnessed a 1.7% increase in ASK capacity and a 0.6% rise in RPK traffic volume.

Annual seat load factor on European services stood at 78.5%, a 0.9% increase on the 77.6% of 2014. Annual seat load factor for the intercontinental network amounted to 85.6%, down 0.9 percentage points from the 86.5% of the previous year. System wide seat load factor for the year stood at 83.4%, a slight 0.3% decline from the 83.7% of 2014.

The airfreight business of SWISS WorldCargo posted a cargo load factor (by volume) for the year of 75.9%, 3.5 percentage points down from the 79.4% of 2014. Total cargo sales declined 4.3% in revenue tonne-kilometre terms.

Swiss B777 89393

The first SWISS Boeing 777-300ER arriving in Zurich for a flypast accompanied by a Swiss Air Force F-18

SWISS receives its first Boeing 777-300ER

2016 will be an important year for SWISS as it embarks on a major fleet upgrade. It has already taken delivery of the first of nine new Boeing 777-300ERs it has on order on 29th January. The aircraft, registered HB-JNA, arrived at Zurich Airport on time at 09:14, following its delivery flight from Boeing’s Everett Factory in the state of Washington, from where it had departed at 14:06 (Pacific Standard Time, GMT-7). On board the delivery flight, appropriately numbered LX 7771, were a delegation of the SWISS Management Board along with media representatives and further guests. The youngest – and biggest – member of the SWISS fleet was welcomed on arrival with the loud applause of a large crowd of aviation fans and other keen spectators.

Official hangar presentation

In the afternoon, SWISS invited its top customers, politicians, representatives of the authorities, journalists and business partners to a first viewing of the new long-haul twinjet. In SWISS configuration the Boeing 777-300ER offers 340 seats: eight in First Class, 62 in Business Class and 270 in Economy Class. The totally newly-designed cabin interior of the new SWISS fleet flagship offers top comfort and visual appeal in all three classes.

Boeing 777 passengers will also enjoy wireless internet connectivity aloft, the first time this has been offered on SWISS flights. The new ‘SWISS Connect’ internet option offers a choice of three data packages costing between CHF 9 and CHF 39 (€8.09 – €35.05) to meet customers’ varying internet needs. SWISS First travellers will be offered a 50MB package on each flight free of charge. As a further part of its new on-board internet facility, SWISS will also be offering an inflight phoning option (including SMS text messages and data transmission), using roaming technology for a trial one-year period.

Deployment on intercontinental routes

SWISS’s new Boeing 777-300ERs will gradually enter revenue service from the start of the 2016 summer schedules. They will largely be deployed on services to Hong Kong, Bangkok, Los Angeles, San Francisco, São Paulo and Tel Aviv.

SWISS has also updated its planned Boeing 777-300ER operation within Europe, which will see the 777 scheduled to operate service to Athens, Frankfurt, Hanover, London Heathrow, Prague and Venice, as well as internal services to Geneva, with overall 777 European operations extended into August 2016.

SWISS opens new lounges at Zurich Airport

On the same day as the arrival of its first new Boeing 777-300ER, SWISS also unveiled a new dimension in lounge facilities at Zurich Airport. In a formal ceremony that morning, the new First Class, Senator and Business Class Lounges in the airport’s Terminal E, were officially opened. The two events ushered in a new era for SWISS, in the air and on the ground, under its ‘Next-Generation Airline of Switzerland’ strategy. Extending over more than 3,300 square metres and located conveniently close to its long-haul departure gates, the new lounges feature an innovative zonal concept for the comfort and convenience of SWISS’s premium guests: open areas in which to sit and simply enjoy the stay, working areas with secluded workplaces and rest zones equipped with specially-developed seating offering genuine relaxation.

The new lounges’ culinary highlights include ‘front cooking’ areas where the chefs prepare selected fresh meals right in front of the guest, while the Senator Lounge boasts an exclusive Whisky Bar offering over 120 different whiskies. The SWISS First Lounge even features its own version of a five-star à la carte restaurant: whatever the time of day, guests can select the meal of their choice from an extensive menu.

All three lounges have access to a terrace with great views of the airport and the Swiss Alps beyond. And guests in the First Class Lounge can even enjoy a tasty fondue or raclette (a traditional Swiss roasted cheese dish) on the terrace in the winter months, as they take in the spectacular vistas.

Bombardier’s C Series programme starts ramp-up to full production

Bombardier’s C Series is another key programme for Swiss, and one which as well known was beset by delays. It is now gearing up to aircraft delivery and entry into service with SWISS in the second quarter (Q2) of 2016. Bombardier has confirmed that the first CS100 aircraft, scheduled to enter service with the airline is now structurally complete. On 19th January Bombardier Commercial Aircraft announced that its all-new C Series aircraft programme has begun the ramp-up to full production. The final assembly facility is fully equipped and production is progressing according to plan with aircraft in various stages of the build sequence.

Bombardier Fred Cromer

Fred Cromer of Bombardier

“It’s truly a spectacular sight to see the C Series final assembly line fully stacked with production aircraft in various stages of assembly. The line itself has been designed for maximum production efficiency and our skilled production teams reached a milestone this month when they rolled out the first structurally complete aircraft that will enter service with SWISS in the next few months,” said Fred Cromer, President, Bombardier Commercial Aircraft.

In December 2015, Bombardier announced that the CS100 aircraft had received its Type Certificate from Transport Canada. Bombardier’s CS300 aircraft, the larger model, is on track to obtain its Type Certificate within the next six months as planned. Bombardier will continue to work with Transport Canada to validate the CS100 aircraft’s training syllabus.

SWISS pilots fly the CS100 aircraft for first time as they commence flight training

On 18th January, SWISS’ flight crews kicked off their CS100 aircraft flight training in Mirabel, Québec, where they will undergo intensive training to prepare for the route-proving flights they will operate, alongside Bombardier’s flight crews, when the CS100 route-proving aircraft flies to Europe in the coming weeks. This follows the completion of the North American route-proving programme that included more than 35 cities. During the programme, the CS100 aircraft conducted flights using typical airline flight routings and operational procedures.

Commenting on this milestone, Mr. Cromer said he “had the pleasure of welcoming the first set of SWISS crews to Mirabel as they start their pilot training in anticipation of the European CS100 aircraft route-proving program. The program will be operated from SWISS’ own base in Zurich, Switzerland – yet another way we are ensuring a flawless entry-into-service (EIS) alongside our first operator.”

Bombardier C Series CS100 C-GWXZ (Swiss)

Bombardier C Series in Swiss colours

“In addition to the C Series aircraft production ramp-up and European route proving, our C Series Program and Engineering teams are working diligently alongside our Customer Services team –transferring employees to various areas for cross-functional training and aircraft familiarization,” added Rob Dewar, Vice President, C Series Aircraft Program, Bombardier Commercial Aircraft. “The timing is perfect as we now ready the European leg of the C Series route-proving program. We are also doing something unique to ensure that SWISS’ crews will be ready at delivery and EIS – SWISS’ flight crews, once trained, will operate the CS100 route-proving aircraft alongside Bombardier’s own flight crews from SWISS’ main base of operations. They will use SWISS’ schedule, crews, maintenance crews and aircraft destinations — all in the coming weeks.”

SWISS offers great value on its Dublin services to Geneva and Zurich

SWISS continues to offer great value on its Dublin services to Geneva and Zurich as it operates up to eight flights per week over the winter season. The well-established Zurich service, the LX400/1, operates at a basic four per week frequency (on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays), with a fifth service having operated around the Christmas period. The Geneva-Dublin service, the LX410/1, which was started in summer 2015, is being continued through the winter at a three times per week frequency with a mix of A320s and A319s. The airline offers three economy products, ‘Light’ which includes only one piece of Hand baggage but includes allocated seating (at check-in) and refreshments, ‘Classic’ which additionally includes one piece of checked baggage, reserved seat at time of bookings plus booking changes (for a fee) and finally ‘Flex’ which allows seat in a preferred zone, booking changes and cancellation (for a fee). Swiss also offers a short haul business product, which offers superior food and beverages, two pieces of hand baggage, two pieces of checked baggage, seat reservation with neighbour seat free, lounge access, priority check-in and priority boarding, priority bag, booking changes and cancellation.

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About the Author

Jim has had a life-long interest in military matters and aviation. Initially, he fused both of these interests together with a passion for military aviation, initially as a photographer. He has travelled extensively over the years and has been the guest of many European air forces, plus the air forces of the United States, Russia and others throughout the world. His first introduction to journalism coincided with an interest in the civil aviation industry was when he initially wrote for and later edited, ‘Aviation Ireland’, the club magazine of the Aviation Society of Ireland. Jim was a contributor to Flying in Ireland since its inception over 10 years ago and is now a key contributor to this site. He has also contributed items for a number of other aviation magazines and has produced a number of detailed contributions to Government policy documents, most recently the Irish Government’s White Paper on Defence. He is also deeply involved in the local community and voluntary sector and has worked both in local government and central government.

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