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“swiss” joins forces with American Airlines

"swiss" is joining forces with the world's largest carrier

Switzerland's new national carrier, "swiss", has announced that it is entering a comprehensive alliance with American Airlines.

André Dosé, CEO of Crossair, which will be replaced by swiss on April 1, said on Tuesday he was very pleased and “more than little proud” of the alliance with the world’s largest airline.

“It will serve to strongly optimise the travel and connection possibilities for our passengers and also for those in the United States,” he said.

He added that the deal “shows we are being taken seriously and that there is trust in us”.

The US Department of Transportation and the American civil aviation authority must now approve the agreement between American Airlines and “swiss”.

By becoming part of the alliance, members of the American Airlines and the swiss frequent flyer programme will be able to collect and redeem air miles on both carriers.

Closer to “oneworld”

American Airlines is a leading player in the “oneworld” alliance, which includes major names such as British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Qantas and Iberia.

Dosé said the alliance with American was a first step towards full membership of oneworld and that talks with the other participating airlines were underway.

Mike Gunn, a vice-president at American Airlines, was also positive about the advantages a link-up with swiss would bring.

“The agreement will allow American Airlines to offer its passengers a bigger choice [of destinations]and more flexibility,” he said.

The alliance between the two carriers was also given the thumbs up by the former financial director of TWA, Edward Soule.

He told swissinfo that the two carriers would face few difficulties coordinating their operations. “They should be able to improve services to passengers without having to spend a lot of money on sales and marketing.”

swiss will need the nod from all partners before it can join the alliance, which it hopes to do in time for the start of the winter schedule in six months.

The announcement puts an end to weeks of speculation about which alliance swiss would join, in its bid to become a major European carrier.

Membership would give swiss and British Airways dominance over routes between Switzerland and Britain, and likely lead to calls for the carriers to give up some landing slots at London’s Heathrow airport.

The low-cost airline “easyJet” has already indicated that it would ask the European Commission to force the two airlines to relinquish slots.

Dumping Boeing

swiss also announced on Tuesday that it intended to replace its entire fleet of Boeing MD-11 long-haul aircraft with new Airbus A340s-300s.

It gave no financial details, but said it had chosen the Airbus for environmental reasons – “the new long-haul jet is 50 per cent quieter on approach and the noxious emissions from the four engines are considerably reduced”.

swiss is dumping Boeing despite very favourable leasing rates because of the “higher operating costs” for the aircraft and the “over-proportional technical costs attributable to the aircrafts’ age”.

Crossair Chief Executive, André Dosé, said the move was an important step “towards the profitability of our airline”.

Crossair is to formally roll out the new Swiss airline on March 31. It will combine Crossair’s regional service with many of the long-distance routes flown by Swissair – Crossair’s former parent – which collapsed last year.

Gate Gourmet finds buyer

Meanwhile, Swissair Group announced on Tuesday that it had agreed to sell its airline catering unit, Gate Gourmet, to US private equity firm, Texas Pacific Group.

No financial details about the deal were released. It has still to be approved by regulatory authorities and the court-appointed administrator overseeing the winding up of Swissair.

Gate Gourmet is the world’s second-largest airline catering business with sales of over SFr3 billion last year.

swissinfo with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR