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New low-cost carrier plans takeoff in July

The airline plans to buy Dornier 328s from the defunct Swisswings

(Keystone Archive)

A new low-cost airline, Air Switzerland, has announced plans to join Europe's crowded aviation market from July.

The carrier said it would be taking over aircraft from the defunct regional airline, Swisswings, and would begin short-haul flights by mid-July.

However, the Swiss aviation authorities said they had yet to receive an application for permission to fly from the company.

"We have no information on this company," said Daniel Goering, spokesman for Federal Office for Civil Aviation. "No airline can fly without our approval and Air Switzerland has not applied for permission to fly."

Goering told swissinfo that Air Switzerland's plan to start operating by mid-July was "very optimistic" because the Civil Aviation takes an average of 30 to 60 days to approve an airline's application.

Mystery

Little is known about the airline apart from the fact that it is headed by founder and CEO, Mario Ritter, a travel agent in Liechtenstein, who is in his early twenties. The identity of its financial backers remains a mystery.

The start-up airline says funds were raised from investors in the Germany, Switzerland and the United States, but refuses to identify who is backing the venture.

Aviation analyst, Sepp Moser, told swissinfo that he doubted the airline would make the runway by its self-imposed deadline.

"I am very sceptical as to whether Air Switzerland will achieve its targets on time. I have not seen many signs of professionalism by the organisation thus far," he said.

"By taking over a part of the operations of former Swisswings they can cheaply and easily... get an air operators certificate. I think that's the strategic motivation behind this move," Moser added.

Flight plans

Air Switzerland says it will take over three Fairchild Dornier 328 aircraft from Swisswings and 60 of the company's employees.

The short-haul flights are to fly from Bern and Zurich, but the destinations are as yet unknown, although the company says Munich and Amsterdam are being considered.

The company plans to offer long-haul charter flights from the autumn from Zurich to Cape Town, Bangkok, Singapore and Las Vegas on two Airbus A340-300s. It is looking to recruit 224 employees for its long-haul flights.

The airline was established in March, and is located in Glattbrugg, near Zurich airport.

Swisswings filed for bankruptcy in April leaving 120 employees without jobs in Bern and Geneva.

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