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"SWISS" redirects here. For other uses, see Swiss (disambiguation).
"Swiss Airlines" redirects here. For the flag carrier of Switzerland before 2002, see Swissair.
Swiss International Air Lines AG
Founded 2002 (As Swiss Air Lines Ltd) [1]
Hubs Zurich Airport
Focus cities
Frequent-flyer program Miles & More
Airport lounge HON & Senator Lounge
Alliance Star Alliance
Fleet size 69
Destinations 69 [2]
Company slogan Our sign is a promise
Parent company Deutsche Lufthansa AG
Headquarters EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg
near Basel, Switzerland
Register: Basel[3]
Key people Harry Hohmeister (President and CEO)[4]
Revenue Increase CHF 4.8 billion (2010)[5]
Profit IncreaseCHF 368 million (2010)

Swiss International Air Lines AG (Formerly Swiss Air Lines Ltd) (short: Swiss) is the flag carrier[6] airline of Switzerland operating scheduled services in Europe and to North America, South America, Africa and Asia. Its main hub is Zurich Airport (ZRH). The airline was formed after the 2002 bankruptcy of Swissair, Switzerland's former flag carrier.

Swiss is a subsidiary of the German airline Lufthansa, with headquarters at EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg near Basel, Switzerland, and an office at Zurich Airport in Kloten, Switzerland.[7] The company's registered office is in Basel.[8]

The airline uses the IATA Code LX that it inherited from the Swiss regional airline Crossair (Swissair's code was SR). The ICAO code is SWR, inherited from Swissair (Crossair's was CRX), in order to keep international traffic rights.



The airline was formed after the 2002 bankruptcy of Swissair, Switzerland's former flag carrier. Crossair had 40% of its income come from the defunct Swissair. The new airline's losses totaled $1.6 billion from startup until 2005. Swissair's biggest creditors, Credit Suisse and UBS, sold part of Swissair's assets to Crossair, the regional counterpart to the transatlantic Swissair. At the time, both Swissair and Crossair were under the same holding company, called SAirGroup. Crossair later changed its name to Swiss, and the new national airline started its operations officially on 31 March 2002. The airline was first owned by institutional investors (61.3%), the Swiss Confederation (20.3%), cantons and communities (12.2%) and others (6.2%). Swiss also owns subsidiary companies Swiss Sun (100%) and Crossair Europe (99.9%). It has a total of 7,383 employees.[9]

According to Marcel Biedermann, the managing director intercontinental markets for Swiss, there were three possibilities: stay independent as a niche carrier, shrink to an unrecognisable level, or attach onto another airline group. The last choice was taken. Swiss talked to Air France-KLM, British Airways, and Lufthansa. However, Swiss was tied up with debt and an uncertain future, and seemed to be an unattractive investment. After merging with KLM, Air France said they were too busy to deal with Swiss joining them. Lufthansa wanted to take over, but the Swiss people did not want that. British Airways was open, and Oneworld partners thought Zurich Airport would be a viable alternative hub for London Heathrow.

After almost a year of disputes, Swiss was finally accepted into the Oneworld airline alliance, after having been blocked by British Airways, which competes with Swiss on many long-haul routes. On 3 June 2004, Swiss announced its decision not to join Oneworld because they did not want to integrate their current frequent flyer program into British Airways' Executive Club. Furthermore, Swiss thought the relationship was one sided, where British Airways sapped out the benefits of the airline, but they would get no return.


The airline annually halved its losses, and in 2006 recorded a net profit of $220 million. The net profit for 2007 was $570 million. Biedermann stated in the March 2008 edition of "Airways", that "this was the beginning of getting our house back in order." He said that help was needed and looked up to Lufthansa as a comparison, so their coming together was natural, even with their differences. Even with the smaller network, Swiss carries the same number of passengers as they did in 2002.

On 22 March 2005 Lufthansa Group confirmed its plan to take over Swiss, starting with a minority stake (11%) of a new company set up to hold Swiss shares called Air Trust. The Swiss operations were gradually integrated with Lufthansa's from late 2005, and the takeover was completed on 1 July 2007. Swiss joined the Star Alliance and became a member of Lufthansa's Miles and More frequent flyer program on 1 April 2006.

The airline has set up a regional airline subsidiary called Swiss European Air Lines. This carrier has its own air operator's certificate. The two independently operating divisions Swiss Aviation Training and Swiss WorldCargo (using the belly capacity of passenger planes) are also owned by Swiss.

In 2008 Swiss International Air Lines acquired Edelweiss Air[10] [11] and Servair[12] - now Swiss Private Aviation. From February 2011, Swiss Private Aviation ceased to operate as a result of internal reconstruction. The company recommended Lufthansa Private Jet Service as a succedaneum.[13]

The Swiss brand is well respected by travellers, as can be seen by the company coming top of the upmarket Condé Nast Traveler readers' survey for short haul flights in 2008.

In 2007 Swiss placed an order for 9 Airbus A330-300 to eventually replace the existing A330-200s. The A333 is more environmentally friendly and has three-class seating. As each A330-300 arrives, an A330-200 is retired from the fleet. The first A330-300 jet was put into service from Zurich to New York-JFK in April 2009. In spring 2010 Swiss operated 5 A330-300s for mid-long haul route. The remaining 4 A330-300 aircraft joined the fleet in 2011.

Lufthansa Group takeover

Following Lufthansa Group takeover, the regional fleet was changed from Crossair's Embraer ERJs and Saabs to Avro RJs, which are flown by a wholly owned subsidiary, Swiss European Air Lines. The rest of the fleet, apart from the regional jets, was also rationalised and is now all Airbus.

The airline reconstruction also caused Swiss to renegotiate their supplier contracts, which include ground handling, maintenance, food service, and labour.

The shareholders of Swiss received a performance-based option for their shares. Payment will be in 2008, and the amount will depend on how well Lufthansa's shares compare with competitors' shares. Lufthansa continues to maintain Swiss as a separate brand.


In 2010, Swiss and Lufthansa were named in a European Commission investigation into price-fixing, but was not fined due to acting as a whistleblower.[14]

On August 18, 2011, Swiss announced a new logo for their company,[15] resembling the logo of the defunct Swissair.[16] The new logo lead to vivid online criticism, within days several protest groups on social media platforms appeared.[17][18]

Corporate affairs and identity

Head office

Swiss International Air Lines is headquartered at EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg[19][20] near Basel, Switzerland.[9] EuroAirport, a French-Swiss binational airport, is physically located in France and has direct access to Switzerland.[21] The Swiss head office is located in the Swiss section of the airport, and it is only accessible from Switzerland.[22]

The current Swiss International Air Lines head office was formerly the head office of Crossair. In 2002 the name "Crossair" was replaced with "Swiss International Air Lines" on the head office building.[23] As of 2004 the Basel area offices housed about 1,000 employees, while the Zurich area offices housed about 850 employees. When Swiss started as a company, about 1,400-1,500 worked at the Basel offices.[24]


The following companies are part of the Swiss International Air Lines Group:


In 2009, the airline announced a major expansion at EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg in an attempt to win back market share from budget airlines using the airport.

Codeshare agreements

Swiss International has codeshare agreements with the following airlines [25]

Onboard services

On all economy class flights in Europe, Swiss offers drink services. Depending on the time and duration of the flight, Swiss may also offer snack services. On shorter flights, Swiss offers cold snacks, and on longer flights Swiss offers hot snacks. The Europe economy class services include sandwiches from a Swiss bakery.[26] In addition, Swiss chocolate is provided near the end of every Swiss flight to all passengers.


For the regional fleet, see Swiss European Air Lines.

As of September 2013, the Swiss International Air Lines fleet comprises the following aircraft:[27]

Swiss International Air Lines Fleet
Aircraft In Service Orders Passengers Notes
F C Y Total
Airbus A319-100 5 0 60 48 108
Airbus A320-200 25[28] 0 64 72 136
Airbus A321-100 6 0 68 108 186
Airbus A321-200 2 1 0 68 108 186
Airbus A330-300 14[28] 1 8 45 183 236
Airbus A340-300 15 8 47 164 219 Exit from service in 2016
Boeing 777-300ER 6 TBA Deliveries from 2016[29]
Total 69 7

The average age of the Swiss International Air Lines fleet is 10.8 years on September 2013.[30] The aircraft fleet is to be renamed after local towns and cities over the next two years. The names will be featured on the aircraft fuselage, with cabin interiors showing the coat of arms of the town or city. The latest fleet addition, an Airbus A330, is the first to follow this scheme, as Bern.[31]

Six second-hand Airbus A340 aircraft were added to the fleet to increase frequencies and launch new long-haul routes in summer 2008. Two Airbus A330 aircraft were also added to the fleet in 2006 to increase route frequencies.

In addition to Swiss's own fleet, a number of codeshare agreements are in effect. These include 3 Fokker 100 aircraft operated by Swiss airline Helvetic Airways, 2 Fokker 100s operated by OLT Express Germany, and 1 Saab 2000 operated by Swiss regional airline Darwin Airline. These aircraft operate from Zurich on routes to Birmingham, Manchester, Prague, Warsaw, Brussels and Lugano.

On 20 September 2007 Lufthansa confirmed an order for 41 aircraft.[32] Two of the Airbus A320 series and 9 Airbus A330 aircraft are intended for Swiss.

On 22 September 2010, Lufthansa announced an order for 48 new planes.[33] 5 of the ordered A330-300, 2 A320, and 2 A321 aircraft are intended to be delivered to Swiss starting in 2012.

In March 2013, Lufthansa finalized an order for six Boeing 777-300ERs to be delivered to Swiss.[29]


Further reading

  • Donohue, Ken. "Swiss continues a proud tradition." Airways Magazine: A Global Review of Commercial Flight. March 2008: 22-23, 25, 28.

External links

Switzerland portal
Companies portal
Aviation portal
  • Template:Sister-inline
  • Official website
  • Swiss World Cargo
  • Swiss Aviation Training
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