AS Swiss International Air Lines (Swiss) passes 30 months of operations, the airline can reflect on that time and relish a certain amount of success in the progress made.
Having started out with an ambitious turnaround initiative, the airline has realised more than 60 per cent of the plan, is on schedule to return to profitability in 2005 and has become one of the most efficient and streamlined airlines around the world.
Swiss boasts one of the youngest fleets in the world, has maintained its position as Switzerland’s flag carrier and has picked up numerous awards since its inception in March 2002. However, the success has not come easily or without great work by the SWISS team. The targets achieved speak volumes for those that work at the company, as dedicated and passionate people.
While the airline has reduced its network, and realigned its fleet, the airline flies to 70 destinations in 41 countries, and through codeshare agreements and partnerships, SWISS extends its reach to well over 100 destinations. Felix Rodel, area manager for the Middle East, Pakistan and Iran, said: “On the whole we have experienced a very successful year. Our quarterly results and better-than-expected financial position continue to improve thanks to progress in our restructuring programme and the gradual recovery in the markets we serve. As for the Middle East markets of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Oman, we have seen strong improvement during 2004, particularly from inbound tourism and business travellers.”
Swiss has initiated a number of new systems to ensure a greater efficiency for passengers and in the way the company works, such as e-ticket. This ticket-less form of travel, which has proved very popular across Europe, and is now working it’s way across the Middle East region. SWISS has recently launched its e-ticket service in the UAE, through Dubai International Airport, enabling quicker and more efficient travel. Passengers can simply book and pay for their ticket online through www.swiss.com/UAE, via telephone or through a travel agent. Using the receipt, which can be obtained by post, email or fax, as proof of purchase or, alternately, use their passport as proof of identification, passengers can collect their boarding pass at the airport without the need for a ticket. SWISS e-ticket is facilitated at 55 destinations around the world.
Swiss has concentrated on developing passenger-friendly e-innovations, as well as creating country specific websites. “The evolving world of e-travel is a win-win situation for both passengers and airlines. E-ticketing allows passengers the convenience of booking from the office or home, and an ease on check-in at the airport,” Rodel added. In addition, Swiss websites offer the lowest guaranteed fares available, maintain an up-to-date flight schedule and airline timetable, as well as special offers from rental car companies, such as Avis and Europcar or hotel reservations through www.hotels.com and Swiss Destination Management (SDM) at www.sdm.ch, which covers 2,200 hotels in Switzerland.
Swiss sees the Middle East region as a strong market both for inbound and outbound travellers. This is evident in the airlines decision to commence daily flights from Muscat as of October 31. The airline has also signed a codeshare agreement with Oman’s national carrier, Oman Air, aimed at strengthen both carriers service from the Sultanate onwards to Switzerland and other European destinations. In the Middle East, Swiss operates a total of 25 weekly flights including the daily non-stop flights from Dubai and Muscat, as well as five weekly flights from Cairo, three times weekly from Jeddah and Riyadh. “The Middle East markets represent 17 per cent of our intercontinental network business, and the region is a major contributor to the overall success of the airline,” concluded Rodel.
TTN is the most established trade publication in the Middle East distributed on a controlled circulation basis to members of the travel and tourism industry.
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