SWISS starts new service to Shanghai

Brand: SWISS Spokesperson: Felix Rodel, director, head of sales, North Africa & Middle East

How has 2007 fared for SWISS?
We have seen some great results in our three regional markets – UAE, Saudi Arabia and Oman this year.

For our summer and first half performance we reported high seat load factors in all three markets.
In March 2007 we celebrated our one-year partnership with Lufthansa German Airlines, which came into fruition in Saudi Arabia as a result of our joint operations in Riyadh. That month also saw us record profitable operating results for the 2006 business year, CHF 231 million ($204,415,733), a positive result when compared to the negative EBIT we posted the previous year.
Other exciting developments were the launch of a new two daily services from Zurich to New Delhi. Also we officially teamed up with the Swiss non-profit organisation, myclimate, enabling our environmentally-conscious customers to voluntarily offset the carbon dioxide emissions caused each time they travel.

What are the company’s plans for 2008?
At this time we are not expanding our fleet. What we do have confirmed for next year is a brand new service to Shanghai, China, starting March 30, when a new Airbus A340 will be deployed.
SWISS continues to team up with fellow airline partners such as Lufthansa in operating code share flights. We feel this is another way of increasing our choice of destinations.

What is the company’s strategy in the face of competition?
Every business has to keep in line with, or ahead of the competition in order to succeed. SWISS has certain guiding principles and strategies that are implemented at the start of every year. These ideas are mapped out by our board of directors and senior management, with the changing economical and aviation environment in mind, to see how best our airline can fare versus the competition.
We will continue to consider upgrading our product; for example, introducing the lie-flat bed and upgrading our in-flight entertainment system is very much under consideration.  With that said, we expect to get new aircrafts in a year and therefore will not be refurbishing our long existing business class and first class cabins.

Is SWISS bullish about 2008? 
Certainly we are very optimistic about the coming year. Given the rapid economic development and booming infrastructure witnessed by the region as a whole, there is clearly great opportunity for airlines.
More business and tourism opportunities have opened up for travellers as a result. We are therefore fortunate to have an established presence in the region at a time when the aviation industry is taking off.
In addition to attracting an influx of inbound customers, SWISS links Middle East customers with the rest of the world. Switzerland remains a favourable destination for Saudi, Omani and Emirati locals, who feel safe in an environment that is so different from their own.

What can travellers look forward to in the New Year?
One of the benefits that come with flying SWISS result from our partnership with Lufthansa and Star Alliance and our customer loyalty incentive, Miles&More.
As a Star Alliance partner, we are able to offer travellers a dense network of flights, routes and scheduled connections to 855 destinations in 155 countries.
SWISS will also continue to consider new destinations via code shares or by introducing new routes to meet local demand.

What will be the biggest challenges facing you in the Middle East in 2008?
I would say the most obvious challenge facing us as an airline in the Middle East is the swift development of the region’s biggest airlines (Emirates, Qatar Airlines and Etihad Airways).
Competition is something we have to face but we welcome it. As these airlines aggressively upgrade or even launch a new product, we can simultaneously work on upgrading our own product in a way that suits our customers, the product
itself, the economy and environment.