SWISS launches Bombardier C series service to and from London City

Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS), the national airline of Switzerland, has become the world’s first airline to offer commercial flights with the Bombardier C Series aircraft to and from London City Airport.

The sophisticated short- and medium-haul Bombardier CS100 will operate SWISS’s scheduled services to and from London City. Accordingly, the first commercial SWISS Bombardier CS100 flight to London City Airport arrived from Zurich at 17:47 (local time London) on August 8. SWISS will also use its Bombardier C Series aircraft on its Geneva-London City route starting next summer.

Commenting on the new service, Richard Hill, Chief Commercial Officer, London City Airport, said: ‘The inaugural commercial flight of the Bombardier C Series by Swiss International Air Lines is a landmark moment for London City Airport, and it is a pleasure to welcome the first passengers and crew from Zurich, following five years of preparation.’

‘This next-generation aircraft is one of the quietest in operation, with greater fuel efficiency and longer range, setting a new standard for SWISS operations and London City,’ he added.

With its short runway and its steep landing approach, pilots are required to undergo additional training for such operations at London City Airport. In addition, the aircraft itself is to be certificated to perform the steep landing approach at London City. The aircraft’s manufacturer, Bombardier of Montreal, Canada, obtained this in April of this year.

‘We have prepared our pilots down to the finest detail to perform our new scheduled Bombardier C Series flights to London City,’ said Peter Koch, SWISS’s C Series Fleet Chief. ‘And we’re delighted that we can now offer all the many attractions of the C Series, in inflight comfort and more, on this important route.’

SWISS is shifting to its C Series aircraft mainly to replace its Avro RJs, which were used to commence scheduled services to and from London City 25 years ago. The last commercial SWISS Avro RJ100 flight will be from Zurich to London City and back on Monday, August 14, the airline said.

London Heathrow gets new Sion service from SWISS, Egyptair restarts Luxor service

Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) is planning to launch a new seasonal service between London Heathrow and Sion in February 2017, according to an online report by ITCM.

 

As per the plan, SWISS will operate three round trip flights to Sion Airport to serve skiers during the busy holiday period in February. Sion Airport is located near the largest Swiss ski resorts of Verbier, Les 4 Vallees, Crans-Montana, Saas Fee and Zermatt, and SWISS offers a shorter transfer time to the resorts, between 1 and 1.5 hours.

SWISS’ Director for UK and Ireland, Felix Rodel, said: ‘We are delighted to be offering a new seasonal service in the Swiss Valais region that transports our passengers directly into the Swiss mountains and popular ski destinations. We hope the introduction of this service will provide our customers with a convenient and affordable way to visit the many beautiful regions of Switzerland during the peak winter season.’

Currently, SWISS operates up to 59 flights per week from London to Geneva during the winter period. The airline transports the first set of ski or snowboard equipment and boots free of charge in addition to the standard free baggage allowance for passengers. SWISS will likely add Sion to its UK to Switzerland network in the future, the report said.

Separately, Travel weekly has reported that Egyptair has restarted its direct air link between London Heathrow-Luxor, following a suspension since May this year.

Direct air links between the UK and the Red Sea resort have been suspended since the terrorist attack of a Russian charter flight killing all 224 people on board following its departure from the airport at Sharm el Sheikh. Following a travel advice by the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office in November 2015, all UK airlines suspended their flights to Sharm el Sheikh.

Operated using a 144-seat Boeing 737-800 in a two class configuration, the Luxor service from Heathrow is available for booking with return fares starting at £380, the report noted.

Swiss launches ‘hand luggage fares’; expands network

SWISS, Switzerland’s national airline, is set to offer reduced fares for passengers flying to or from Geneva with no checked baggage.

The move, which is in line with the offers by KLM and British Airways at Gatwick, will be effective from September 1, 2013. Starting September 1, SWISS will also be expanding its direct flights network from Geneva Airport to 24 destinations within Europe. The two actions are expected to align SWISS’ Geneva-based product more closely to the needs of customers in Western Switzerland and adjacent French border areas.

SWISS will offer a new two-tier tariff structure for its Geneva services: The ‘Geneva Economy Flex’ will allow one piece of checked baggage along with rebooking and cancellation, while ‘Geneva Economy Light’ is only for passengers with hand luggage. No rebooking or cancellation will be permitted for the latter. The new fares are bookable with immediate effect.

SWISS said: ‘Both tariffs will be available on a one-way or return option to offer greater choice and flexibility for customers.’ Being home for some low cost carriers as Easyjet (Suisse), SWISS faces the greatest low fare competition in Geneva.

Lead-in fares from London Heathrow to Geneva are £61 one-way and £84 return for Economy Light. For Economy Flex the rates are £86 and £124, while the fares from London City differ slightly. It means that passengers are paying a premium starting at £40 return for one piece of checked baggage and for the ability to change and cancel flight.

Network expansion

Under its network expansion plan, SWISS will add six further destinations to its Geneva-based network this autumn. The expansion would include Stockholm, served four times weekly; thrice weekly to Oslo and London Gatwick; twice weekly to Gothenburg, Belgrade and Marrakesh. SWISS will also convert its present summer-season services between Geneva and Malaga, Palma de Mallorca and Porto into year-round operations. The additions will enlarge Swiss’s Geneva-based network to 24 destinations and will be served by a nine-aircraft fleet.

‘Our expanded network with its attractive destinations will be even better tailored to the needs of our customers in the Geneva region,’ says SWISS chief operating officer Rainer Hiltebrand, responsible for the development of the company’s Geneva operations.

Cambridge airport boosted by introduction of Swiss carrier

Cambridge airport in the UK has been boosted by the introduction of new routes to be operated by a Swiss airline.

Swiss carrier Darwin is establishing Cambridge as a new base for routes to Amsterdam in the Netherlands; the French capital, Paris; Milan in Italy; and Geneva in Switzerland. Operations will commence from September 2, and will involve 50 flights per week in and out of Cambridge. Of these, 24 flights per week will be from or to Amsterdam, 12 will serve Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, 8 will operate to Milan Malpensa, and 6 will serve Geneva.

The flights will utilise Darwin’s fleet of Saab 2000 turboprop aircraft that each have a seating capacity of 50. As a member of Skyteam, Darwin will codeshare on the routes with Alitalia, and flights booked on Alitalia’s AZ code will be included in Skyteam’s Flying Blue rewards scheme that also includes Air France and Netherland’s-based carrier, KLM.

Cambridge airport has been looking to improve its profile and attract new carriers with improvements to its facilities that include complimentary wifi and a new business lounge.

Darwin Airline’s CEO, Maurizio Merlo, said, ‘As we expand within Europe, the UK is a key market for us to further establish and we are delighted to open our new base in the heart of East England. Cambridge is at the forefront of several business sectors and spearheading the UK’s economic growth – it is thriving and vibrant, one of the UK’s most valuable and affluent markets.’

Fares for the new flights start from £119 per person one way and £159 per person for return bookings.