Swiss International Air Lines

Swiss International Air Lines AG
IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded 31 March 2002[1]
AOC # CH.AOC.1006[2]
Hubs Zurich Airport
Focus cities Geneva Airport
Frequent-flyer program Miles & More
Alliance Star Alliance
Subsidiaries Edelweiss Air
Fleet size 86
Destinations 102 (in 46 countries)[3]
Company slogan Made of Switzerland.
The Airline of Switzerland
Parent company Lufthansa Group
Headquarters EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg
near Basel, Switzerland
Register: Basel[4]
Key people Thomas Klühr, CEO[3]
Revenue CHF 4,799 million (2016)[5]
Operating income CHF 429 million (2016)[5]
Employees 9,101 (December 2016)[3]

Swiss International Air Lines AG (short Swiss, stylised as SWISS) is the national airline[6] of Switzerland operating scheduled services in Europe and to North America, South America, Africa and Asia. Its main hub is Zurich Airport, with a focus city operation at Geneva Airport. The airline was formed after the 2002 bankruptcy of Swissair, Switzerland's former flag carrier. It was built around Swissair's former regional subsidiary, Crossair. The airline retains Crossair's IATA code LX (Swissair's code was SR). It took over Swissair's old ICAO code of SWR (Crossair's was CRX), in order to keep international traffic rights. It is a member of the Star Alliance. It is a subsidiary of the Lufthansa Group, 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]



Swiss 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 US$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 International Air Lines, 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 of 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. 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 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. Swiss European Air Lines (renamed to Swiss Global Air Lines) has since ceased operations and merged with its parent, 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]

In 2007 Swiss placed an order for 9 Airbus A330-300s to eventually replace the existing A330-200s. The A330-300 is more environmentally friendly and has three-class seating. As each A330-300 arrived, an A330-200 was 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- and long-haul routes. The remaining 4 A330-300 aircraft joined the fleet in 2011.

Takeover by Lufthansa

Following Lufthansa Group takeover,[14] the regional fleet was changed from Crossair's Embraer ERJs and Saabs to Avro RJs, which are flown by a wholly owned subsidiary, Swiss Global Air Lines. The rest of the fleet, apart from the regional jets, was also rationalised and is now mainly Airbus aircraft apart from the Boeing 777, which is operated by Swiss Global Air Lines.

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 were not fined due to acting as a whistleblower.[15]

On 18 August 2011, Swiss announced a new logo for their company,[16] resembling the logo of the defunct Swissair.[17] The new logo led to vivid online criticism, within days several protest groups on social media platforms appeared.[18][19]

Corporate affairs

Head office

Swiss International Air Lines has its operational headquarters at EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg[20][21] near Basel, Switzerland.[9] This French-Swiss binational airport is located on French territory and has customs-free access to Switzerland.[22] The Swiss head office is located in the Swiss section of the airport, and it is only accessible from Switzerland.[23] According to the commercial register, the legal seat is in Basel itself.[24]

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.[25] 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.[26]


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

Customer services

On all intra-European flights, Swiss offers drink services. Depending on the time of day and the scheduled flight duration, Swiss may also offer snack services. On shorter flights, cold snacks are offered, and hot snacks are offered on longer flights. The Europe economy class services include sandwiches from a Swiss bakery.[27] In addition, Swiss chocolate is provided to passengers prior to landing on most flights. For its Geneva services on Bombardier CSeries aircraft it uses a buy on board system named 'Swiss Saveurs'. However, customers paying for a Business or Economy Flex/Classic ticket will also benefit from a free beverage and sandwich. This will be introduced in May 2018.

Swiss maintains the Airtrain service, offering to take any SBB train without extra fee from Zurich Airport to Basel SBB railway station.[28] Swiss previously operated its Swissbus service from Ottawa Railway Station to Dorval Airport in Montreal for its customers.[29]


Codeshare agreements

Swiss International has codeshare agreements with the following airlines:[30]


Current Fleet

As of August 2018 the Swiss International Air Lines fleet consists of mostly Airbus aircraft:[31]

Swiss International Air Lines Fleet
Aircraft In Service Orders Passengers Notes
F C Y Total Refs
Airbus A220-100 8 2 var 125 [32] Worldwide launch customer
Replaced Avro RJ100s and some older A320 family aircraft
Airbus A220-300 16 4 var 145 [33]
Airbus A319-100 5 var 138 [34]
Airbus A320-200 19 var 168 [35] 3 aircraft are painted in "Star Alliance" livery
var 180 [35]
Airbus A320neo 10[36] TBA Deliveries from 2019
Airbus A321-100 6 var 219 [37]
Airbus A321-200 3
Airbus A321neo 5[36] TBA
Airbus A330-300 14 8 45 183 236 [38]
Airbus A340-300 5 8 47 164 219 [39] Will be refurbished[40][41]
Boeing 777-300ER 10 2[42] 8 62 270 340 [43] Two to be delivered in early 2020.
Total 86 23  

Swiss carrier Helvetic Airways operates five Embraer 190 and four Fokker 100 aircraft on behalf of Swiss and Austrian Airlines operates four Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 aircraft, also on behalf of Swiss.

The Boeing 777 and Bombardier CSeries aircraft were operated by Swiss Global Air Lines until the subsidiary ceased operations in April 2018, in an attempt to lower administration costs and simplify Swiss' fleet structuring.[44]

The aircraft fleet has been named after local towns and cities since 2007. The names are featured on the aircraft fuselage, with cabin interiors showing the coat of arms of the town or city.[45]

Fleet development

On 22 September 2010, Lufthansa announced an order for 48 new aircraft, several of them for Swiss.[46]

In March 2013, Swiss ordered six Boeing 777-300ERs. On 12 March 2015, Swiss confirmed that the Lufthansa Group had ordered an additional three Boeing 777-300ERs for Swiss.[47] The 777s will be operated by, and wetleased back from, Swiss Global Air Lines.[48] Swiss has confirmed that all 777-300ERs will have an updated First Class cabin with eight private suites and a 32-inch TV, 62 business class seats which convert into a fully flat bed that is over two meters long, and 270 economy seats, with 10 seats abreast in a 3-4-3 layout, using the same seat pitch and width on its A330s and A340s on the 777s.[49] The first of these new airliners was delivered in January 2016[50] and is Swiss's first Boeing aircraft.[51]The Boeing aircraft will replace most of Swiss' current A340 aircraft, the remaining five A340s will be refurbished.

In 2014, Swiss announced it would refurbish its A320 fleet, with new interiors and the older A320s and A321s will be replaced by A320/A321neos. The A319s, along with Swiss Global Air Lines' Avro fleet, will be replaced by Bombardier CS300 aircraft in due course. The last remaining Avro RJ100 aircraft, HB-IYZ, completed its last flight, LX7545 from Geneva to Zurich on 15 August 2017. [52]

Swiss' first CS300 (to replace RJ100s plus older A319/A320s) entered service at Geneva on 1 June 2017 - with its maiden commercial flight as Geneva - London Heathrow. Swiss was the launch customer of the entire CSeries family of aircraft, with its first CSeries aircraft, a CS100, delivered to the airline in June 2016, registered HB-JBA. The first commercial flight it performed was Zurich - Paris CDG.

Retired fleet

Swiss International Air Lines retired aircraft
Aircraft Fleet Introduced Retired Replacement Notes/Refs
Airbus A330-200 15 2002 2012 Airbus A330-300 Taken over from Swissair
Avro RJ85 4 2002 2007 Airbus A220-100/300 Taken over from Crossair
Avro RJ100 24 2002 2017 Airbus A220-100/300 Taken over from Crossair
Embraer ERJ-145 25 2002 2007 Avro RJ100 Taken over from Crossair
McDonnell Douglas MD-11 18 2002 2005 Airbus A340-300 Taken over from Swissair
McDonnell Douglas MD-82 1 2003 2005 Airbus A321 Taken over from Crossair
McDonnell Douglas MD-83 10 2002 2005 Airbus A321 Taken over from Crossair
Saab 2000 31 2002 2005 Taken over from Crossair


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  2. "List of AOC Holders with Complex Airplanes" (PDF). Federal Office of Civil Aviation. 28 March 2018. Retrieved 20 April 2018.
  3. 1 2 3 "Facts and figures". Swiss International Air Lines. Retrieved 19 April 2017.
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  11. "SWISS acquires Servair to operate as Swiss Private Aviation" (Press release). Retrieved 19 December 2010.
  12. "Goodbye, with gratitude" (Press release). Retrieved 20 May 2011.
  13. Archived from the original on 24 October 2008. Retrieved 27 July 2009. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  14. "Eleven airlines fined in European cargo cartel investigation". Retrieved 10 November 2010.
  15. SWISS renforce son positionnement et affine son image de marque, Swiss, 4 October 2011
  16. New logo: Swiss International Air Lines, on 4 October 2011
  17. Vaudan, Lucienne-Camille; Eppenberger, Simon (August 20, 2011). "Widerstand gegen das Ende des Swiss-Würfels". Tages-Anzeiger. Retrieved April 1, 2016.
  18. "Save the swiss cube". Facebook group. Retrieved April 1, 2016.
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  20. "Plan interactif". Saint-Louis (Haut-Rhin). Archived from the original on 14 November 2009. Retrieved 25 September 2009.
  21. "How to find us". Farnair Europe. Archived from the original on 27 May 2011. Retrieved 8 December 2010.
  22. "Swiss International Air Lines Basel" (PDF). Swiss International Air Lines. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 July 2011. Retrieved 24 September 2009. ATTENTION! It is only possible to reach SWISS at the EuroAirport Basel via the Swiss customs or the customs-free road!
  23. (accessed on 16 February 2014)
  24. "Industry Briefs". Airline Industry Information. 2 July 2002. Retrieved 12 January 2010. According to a company statement, the new name replaces Crossair at the corporate headquarters in Basel.
  25. "Wenn die Direktion geht, folgt dann der Rest?" (PDF). Basler Zeitung (in German). No. 173. 27 July 2004. Ursprünglich arbeiteten am Hauptsitz in Basel rund 1400 bis 1500 Leute, heute sind es noch rund 1000 (das fliegende Personal nicht mitgezählt) – der meiste Teil der Stellen fiel der Restrukturierung vom letzten Jahr zum Opfer. In Zürich arbeiten derzeit rund 850 Personen am Boden. (Archive)
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  30. "Swiss Aircraft Registry". Federal Office of Civil Aviation. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
  31. "CS100 seat map". Retrieved 6 August 2016.
  32. "CS300 seat map". Retrieved 6 August 2016.
  33. "Airbus A319-100 seat map". Retrieved 7 November 2016.
  34. 1 2 "Airbus A320-200 seat map". Retrieved 7 November 2016.
  35. 1 2 "Neue Swiss-Strategie".
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  38. "Airbus A340-300 seat map". Retrieved 7 November 2016.
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  40. "SWISS orders 10th Boeing 777; to refurbish Airbus A340-300 fleet". Retrieved 2016-10-08.
  41. Russell, Edward (2018-05-07). "Lufthansa orders up to 16 Airbus and Boeing aircraft". Flightglobal. Retrieved 2018-05-07.
  42. "Boeing 777-300ER seat map". Retrieved 6 August 2016.
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  44. Airliner World January 2007
  45. "Lufthansa Supervisory Board approves Group's order for 48 new aircraft" (Press release). Lufthansa. 22 September 2010. Retrieved 19 December 2010.
  46. "Swiss to order three Boeing 777-300ERs". Aviation Tribune. Retrieved 12 March 2015.
  47. " - Luftfahrt-Nachrichten und -Community". Retrieved 24 April 2015.
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  49. "Le nouveau Boeing 777 de Swiss a atterri à Zurich". Bilan. Retrieved 2016-02-01.
  50. "Boeing". Swiss International Airlines. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  51. "Curtain falls on Swiss Avro operations after 27 years".

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