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Swiss struggles to attract more passengers

Swiss has had a difficult year swissinfo.ch

Switzerland's national carrier, Swiss, says it carried more passengers in 2002 than expected.

This content was published on January 17, 2003 - 12:44

But the airline's seat load factor for December remains below that of its key competitors.

Swiss said on Friday that it carried 11.6 million passengers in 2002, which was almost two million more than the 9.8 million predicted in its business plan.

Passengers numbered 2.92 million in the fourth quarter, a drop of 16.3 per cent compared with the third.

The fall was mainly down to slower business on European routes; intercontinental passengers fell by 10.4 per cent in the last three months of the year.

The airline said in a statement that demand usually falls in the winter season, but added that the unfavourable economic situation and geopolitical uncertainties had also played their part.

Low seat load factor

The seat load factor for December - the number of paying passengers in relation to the seat capacity - stood at 68.7 percent, slightly up on November's total of 68.5 per cent.

This is below that of competing airlines. In the same period, KLM recorded seat loads of 74.6 per cent, Air France 74 per cent, British Airways 71.2 per cent and Lufthansa 68.4 per cent.

"The increasing political uncertainty caused payloads of the aircraft flying to destinations in the Middle East and the seat load factors to drop over the past few months," said Swiss in a statement.

"In this difficult environment, only Tehran did well," the company said.

Overall, the Swiss fleet seat-load factor of the year was 71 per cent. There was a marked difference between intercontinental traffic at 80.3 per cent and European routes at 56.9 per cent.

Difficult year

The results mark the end of a difficult year for Swiss, which replaced the collapsed Swissair as the country's national carrier last April.

Swiss, whose majority stake-owner is the state at 20.5 per cent, has been slow to take off in the face of economic slowdown and the possibility of war in Iraq.

In November, the company announced it would be trimming its fleet and cutting 300 jobs in an effort to save SFr400 million and break even in 2003.

The company made a budgeted loss of around SFr800 million in 2002.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Swiss carried 11.6 million passengers in 2002, almost two million more than the 9.8 million predicted.
Passengers numbered 2.92 million in the fourth quarter, a drop of 16.3 per cent compared with the third.
The seat load factor for December was 68.7 percent, slightly up on November's 68.5 per cent.
This falls below that of competing airlines: KLM 74.6 per cent, Air France 74 per cent, British Airways 71.2 per cent and Lufthansa 68.4 per cent.

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