Swiss cuts a quarter of its destinations

Will passengers fly Swiss in sufficient numbers for the latest cuts to be effective? Keystone

Switzerland's troubled national airline Swiss has announced it is drastically cutting its route network in line with a restructuring plan announced in June.

This content was published on July 11, 2003 - 12:27

The measures designed to ensure the carrier’s survival will reduce the number of destinations the airline flies to from 96 to 71 from October.

The airline’s intercontinental network will be reduced to 30 destinations from the current 40, and its European network will be cut to 41 destinations from 56.

While the airline will still serve key European destinations such as London, Berlin, Paris and Rome, it will no longer serve Switzerland’s capital, Bern.

Swiss will also no longer serve certain intercontinental destinations including Beijing, Rio de Janeiro and Delhi.

The new network will be operated by a 79-aircraft fleet. Until now the airline has had 108 planes in service.

The cuts become effective with the 2003/2004 winter flight schedule to be introduced on October 26.

Some 3,000 job cuts are envisaged as part of the restructuring plan.

Regrets

The authorities in canton Bern said the disappearance of Swiss from Bern-Belp airport was regrettable but would not have significant consequences.

“We’ve been prepared for this for some time,” said Adrian Studer who heads the canton’s economic department.

It is expected that Lufthansa, Intersky and Air Alps will offer new destinations from Bern to fill the gap.

The management at Zurich airport expressed similar sentiments. Here Swiss flights will be cut to 70 destinations as against 92 at the moment.

From Basel's Euroairport, where eight out of 21 routes will go, the initial reaction was relief as even more drastic measures had been expected.

Geneva airport will lose Swiss flights to eight of its current 18 destinations. Again the authorities hope to attract other airlines to serve these routes.

Canton Geneva's economic department says 300 jobs will be directly affected by the reduction in the network but that alternative jobs can probably be found at the airport.

Lugano will only retain Swiss flights to Zurich losing its direct connections to Geneva, Basel and Bern.

Cash crunch

Swiss said in June it was reducing its fleet and staff by roughly a third and was on the hunt for SFr500 million ($366.8) to avoid the fate of its predecessor which collapsed in late 2001 due to a failed expansion plan and a lack of cash.

The Swiss government, which together with the private sector, pumped SFr2.7 billlion into the new national carrier has signalled it will not give the airline fresh cash.

Key creditors, UBS and Credit Suisse, have reacted coolly to calls for more cash and said they would treat the airline like any other corporate client.

Swiss also said its June seat load factor fell to 66 per cent in June from 67.7 per cent in May. In the first six months of the year, Swiss carried 5.3 million passengers.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Swiss cuts destinations from 96 to 71 in October.
The airline will no longer serve Switzerland’s capital Bern.
Intercontinental network will be reduced to 30 destinations from 40.
European network cut to 41 destinations from 56.
The new network will be operated by a 79-aircraft fleet.
The cuts become effective from October 26.

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