Big plans for Swiss


SWISS International Air Lines is on a growth curve, expanding its fleet, adding capacity to existing destinations and launching new routes over the next two years, says Harry Hohmeister, chief network and distribution officer for the airline.

The airline has just posted earnings of CHF199 million ($162.5 million) before interest and taxes for the first nine months of 2006 and looking forward with optimism.
In addition to two new Airbus A330 aircraft, which join the fleet by the end of this year, the airline is acquiring another three Airbus A340s for its long haul fleet.
“We are quite ambitious about 2007,” Hohmeister told TTN. “Next year, we plan to optimise the situation and bring more frequencies to those destinations where we have not had daily frequencies so far. This winter we are looking at East and South Africa and South America. Next summer it will be North Atlantic and Far East. In 2008, there will be a structural expansion to new destinations and more capacity to markets like the Middle East.”
The airline has grown in the Middle East, he said, particularly in markets like Saudi Arabia. “Lufthansa, we now can offer a daily product to Europe from Saudi Arabia and two flights out of Dubai, one non-stop to Zurich and other via Munich. We have some advantages other carriers do not have and therefore especially in the business class segment, development is really good.”
Until 12 months ago, the airline did not have the potential to think about expansion plans and upgrades, but now that Swiss is making money again, the airline plans to invest back in service and product enhancements, he said. “We are investigating a new business class product as well as improvements for both economy and first class products.”
Hohmeister spoke positively about the airline’s merger with Lufthansa. The airline recognises Swiss as a different brand with a different brand positioning as well as different customer segments, he said. “We are really happy that we have this independence and can act on our own to promote our brand; we can do our own advertising, our own sales, but in coordination with Lufthansa. Secondly, Lufthansa has been very supportive in terms of customer value, so when we see the overall product that we have to Europe, it is not just the product offer, it’s also everything that can be offered via Munich and Zurich and Frankfurt.”
In addition, the airlines’ combined frequent flyer programme means customers can earn miles on both carriers as well as on the Star Alliance network, which makes the offering more attractive.
“With Lufthansa, we also have a professional investor with Lufthansa who really knows the industry and is also somehow the guarantee for the growth we have seen and for the future. So, overall there are many reasons why this cooperation helps us,” he said.
by Shalu Chandran