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New airline is just plain "swiss"

Switzerland's new national carrier has chosen an easy-to-remember name swissinfo.ch

Switzerland's new flag carrier will fly under the name "swiss" while the registered company name is to be "Swiss Air Lines".

This content was published on January 31, 2002 - 11:44

The move, announced on Thursday, is also seen as a bid to wipe out memories of the financial crash of Swissair.

The name, which was kept under wraps until Thursday despite widespread leaks in the national media, was unveiled by Crossair, the former regional unit that has been given the task of succeeding where Swissair failed.

Crossair said in a statement that the name reflects a multi-cultural, cosmopolitan character and the typical Swiss characteristics of quality.

André Dosé, chief executive of Crossair and of the new airline, said that there were two decisive factors in the choice of name.

"The new airline is a unique instance in Swiss post-war history, of a collective alliance of politics, industry and the people of Switzerland," explained Dosé.

He added that the qualities which had made Switzerland "great" would be used to build up the new airline. These, he said, were reliability, friendliness, safety, elegance and perfect service.

Brûlé touch

Canadian-born style guru Tyler Brûlé was picked to help with the re-branding. The former reporter turned founder of the style magazine "Wallpaper" indicated late last year that airlines should embrace quality in the battle to lure back passengers.

"A brand is more than a logo," Brûlé said in Basel. "The brand shows who we are, what we do, how we think, what our traditions are and where we want to go."

The new name may be off to a rocky start though. "In Britain, and possibly some other countries, it will probably known as 'Swizz'," said George Shaw, an executive of the London-based Joslin Shaw advertising agency.

"This term has rather unfortunate connotations, since 'swizz' is short for 'swindle'."

A new name may also not be enough to guarantee the company's success according to Shaw. "Just rebranding the company won't achieve very much," he told swissinfo.

Not everyone sees the name as an obstacle to success. "The question will be whether this brand incorporates all the values that make up Swissness," said Kaspar Loeb of Swiss advertiser DDB.

Loeb warns though that the public should not expect the new airline to be a carbon copy of its predecessor. "Swissair was really unique for the Swiss, and you can't replicate that uniqueness," he told swissinfo.

Quality an issue

But travel agents are wondering whether quality can be the magic wand for the Swiss airline in depressed economic times.

"The business traveller of today wants reliable connections, as little hassle as possible and economic prices," said a spokeswoman at Carlson Wagonlit.

However, quality catering will be one of the weapons the new airline uses to win back favour. No more coffee in plastic cups and no more chilled red wine.

Crossair chief executive André Dosé has made clear he wants to cut the costs of the airlines elsewhere than on the number of nuts per passenger.

He aims to cut one-third of costs like wages for pilots and cabin crew while using much lower aircraft leasing costs.

Seventy years of history

Swissair, founded in 1931, collapsed in October last year. Weighed down by massive debts due to an over-ambitious foreign expansion programme, the company was then mortally wounded by the downturn in air traffic following the September 11 attacks on landmarks in the United States.

After months of arduous negotiations, the Basel-based regional airline Crossair put through a capital increase that let it operate two thirds of the former Swissair destinations.

It started operating the European destinations in January and will run the intercontinental destinations from April.

Swissair, the airlines as well as the holding company and number of other subsidiaries, are trading under protection from creditors and are expected to be wound up later this year.

Next step

With the new name now out of the bag André Dosé said in Basel on Thursday that the next milestone for swiss will be announced in March.

"swiss" will take flight with the introduction of the new summer timetable on March 31.

Dosé noted that Thursday's presentation was just the first step. He promised that at another event in March - at a date still to be fixed - it will be explained in detail how the new airline will function and how the individual phases will be implemented.

swissinfo with agencies

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