Swiss International Air Lines

Swiss International Air Lines AG (stylised as SWISS), commonly referred to as Swiss or Swiss Air Lines, is the flag carrier of Switzerland, operating scheduled services in Europe and to North America, South America, Africa and Asia. Zurich Airport serves as its sole hub and Geneva Airport as a focus city. The airline was formed following the bankruptcy in 2002 of Swissair, Switzerland's then flag carrier. The new airline was built around what had been Swissair's regional subsidiary, Crossair. Swiss retains Crossair's IATA code LX (Swissair's code was SR). It assumed Swissair's old ICAO code of SWR (Crossair's was CRX), to maintain international traffic rights. It is a member of Star Alliance and a subsidiary of the Lufthansa Group. Its headquarters are at EuroAirport Basel Mulhouse Freiburg near Basel, Switzerland, and an office at Zurich Airport in Kloten, Switzerland.[6] The company's registered office is in Basel.[7]

Swiss International Air Lines AG
Swiss International Air Lines Logo 2011.svg
IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded18 November 1978 (as Crossair)
31 March 2002 (as Swiss International Air Lines)[1]
AOC #CH.AOC.1006[2]
HubsZurich Airport
Focus citiesGeneva Airport
Frequent-flyer programMiles & More
AllianceStar Alliance
SubsidiariesEdelweiss Air
Fleet size90
Parent companyLufthansa Group
HeadquartersEuroAirport Basel Mulhouse Freiburg
near Basel, Switzerland
Register: Basel[4]
Key peopleThomas Klühr, CEO[3]
RevenueIncrease CHF 4.95 billion (2017)[5]
Operating incomeIncrease CHF 561 million (2017)[5]
Employees9,101 (December 2016)[3]



Swiss was formed after the 2002 bankruptcy of Swissair, Switzerland's former flag carrier. 40% of Crossair's income came from Swissair.[8] The new airline lost US$1.6 billion from 2002 to 2005. Swissair's biggest creditors, Credit Suisse and UBS, sold part of Swissair's assets to Crossair, which had been Swissair's regional counterpart. At the time, both Swissair and Crossair were part of the same holding company, SAirGroup. Crossair later changed its name to Swiss International Air Lines, and the new national airline officially started operations on 31 March 2002. The airline was initially owned by institutional investors (61.3%), the Swiss Confederation (20.3%), cantons and communities (12.2%) and others (6.2%). Swiss also owns subsidiaries 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[dubious ]. British Airways was open, and Oneworld partners thought Zurich Airport would be a viable alternative hub for London Heathrow.

Swiss International Air Lines' previous logo, used from 2002 to 2011.
An Airbus A319-100, Airbus A320-200, and Airbus A330, all painted in Swiss' previous livery.
A Swiss Airbus A330-300 in the current livery.

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.[10] 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. 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.[11]

The airline set up a regional airline subsidiary called Swiss European Air Lines. The carrier had its own air operator's certificate. Two divisions -–Swiss Aviation Training and Swiss WorldCargo (using the belly capacity of passenger planes) – are also owned by Swiss. Swiss European Air Lines (later renamed Swiss Global Air Lines) has since ceased operations and merged with its parent, Swiss.

In 2008, Swiss International Air Lines acquired Edelweiss Air[12][13] and Servair[14] – later renamed Swiss Private Aviation. In February 2011, Swiss Private Aviation ceased operations as a result of restructuring. The company recommended using Lufthansa Private Jet Service instead.[15]

In 2007, Swiss ordered nine Airbus A330-300s to gradually replace existing A330-200s and has three-class seating. The first A330-300 was put into service on the flagship Zürich to New York-JFK route in April 2009.[16] In spring 2010 Swiss operated five A330-300s on medium and long-haul routes. The remaining four A330-300 aircraft joined the fleet in 2011.

Takeover by LufthansaEdit

Following Lufthansa Group's takeover,[17] the regional fleet was changed from Crossair's Embraer ERJs and Saabs to Avro RJs, which were flown by a wholly owned subsidiary, Swiss Global Air Lines. The rest of the fleet was rationalised and now mainly consists of Airbus aircraft, apart from the Boeing 777.

Swiss also renegotiated their supplier contracts, including ground handling, maintenance, food service, and labour. Swiss shareholders received a performance-based option for their shares. Payment was in 2008, and the amount depended on how well Lufthansa's shares compared 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.[18]

On 18 August 2011, Swiss introduced a new company logo[19] which resembled the logo of the defunct Swissair.[20]

Corporate affairsEdit

Head officeEdit

The Swiss International Air Lines head office at EuroAirport.

Swiss International Air Lines has its operational headquarters at EuroAirport Basel Mulhouse Freiburg[21][22] near Basel, Switzerland.[9] The French-Swiss airport is located on French territory and has customs-free access to Switzerland.[23] The Swiss head office is located in the Swiss section of the airport, and it is only accessible from Switzerland.[24] According to the commercial register, the legal seat is in Basel itself.[25]

Swiss International Air Lines' head office was previously the head office of Crossair. In 2002 the "Crossair" sign on the building was replaced by a "Swiss International Air Lines" one.[26] 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.[27]

SWISS also operates offices at Zurich Airport in Kloten and at Geneva Airport.[28]


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

  • Edelweiss Air
  • Swiss AviationSoftware
  • Swiss Aviation Training
  • Swiss WorldCargo
  • SWISStours[29]

Inflight serviceEdit

On European flights, Swiss serves drinks. Depending on the time of day and the duration of the flight, Swiss may also serve snacks. Cold snacks are served on shorter flights, hot ones on longer flights. Economy class service includes sandwiches from a Swiss bakery.[30] Swiss chocolate is provided to passengers prior to landing on most flights. For its Geneva services on Bombardier CSeries (Airbus A220) aircraft a buy on board system called Swiss Saveurs is available. Business or Economy Flex/Classic passengers get a free beverage and sandwich. [1]

Trains and busesEdit

Swiss' Airtrain service allows passengers to take any SBB train at no extra charge from Zurich Airport to Basel SBB railway station and Lugano railway station.[31] Swiss previously operated a Swissbus service from Ottawa Railway Station to Montréal-Trudeau airport in Montreal.[32]


Codeshare agreementsEdit

Swiss International has codeshare agreements with the following airlines:[33]

Interline agreementsEdit

Swiss International has interline agreements with the following airlines:[33]


Current fleetEdit

As of July 2020, the Swiss International Air Lines fleet consists of the following aircraft:[35][36]

Swiss International Air Lines fleet
Aircraft In service Orders Passengers Notes
F B E Total Ref
Airbus A220-100 9 20 105 125 [37]
Airbus A220-300 20 1 30 115 145 [38]
Airbus A320-200 19 30 150 180 [39] 3 aircraft are painted in Star Alliance livery.
Airbus A320neo 2 15[40][41] Deliveries from February 2020.[42]
Original order for ten with seven options to firm orders.[43]
Airbus A321-100 6 48 171 219 [44]
Airbus A321-200 3
Airbus A321neo 8[40][41] TBA Original order for five with three options to firm orders.[43]
Some orders can be changed to Airbus A321LR.[45]
Airbus A330-300 14 8 45 183 236 [46]
Airbus A340-300 5 8 47 164 219 [47] A new Premium Economy cabin to be introduced in Q2 2021.[48]
Boeing 777-300ER 12 8 62 270 340 [49] A new Premium Economy cabin to be introduced in Q1 2021.[48]
Total 90 24

Swiss carrier Helvetic Airways operates ten Embraer 190 aircraft on behalf of Swiss. Following Helvetic Airways' acquisition of the type, Helvetic Airways will also operate Embraer 190-E2 aircraft on behalf of Swiss.[50] Adria Airways operated two Saab 2000s on the Zurich - Lugano route, which was suspended after Adria's bankruptcy on 30 September 2019.[51]

The Boeing 777-300ER and Airbus A220-100/-300 (Bombardier CS100/CS300) 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.[52]

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.[53]

Fleet developmentEdit

On 22 September 2010, Lufthansa announced an order for 48 new aircraft, several of them for Swiss.[54]

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.[55] The 777s will be operated by, and leased back from, Swiss Global Air Lines.[56] 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.[57] The first of these new airliners was delivered in January 2016[58] and is Swiss's first Boeing aircraft.[59] 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.[60]

Swiss' first CS300/A220-300 (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 Airbus A220 (formerly known as Bombardier CSeries) family of aircraft, with its first CSeries aircraft, a CS100 (A220-100), delivered to the airline in June 2016, registered HB-JBA. The first commercial flight it performed was Zurich - Paris CDG.

Retired fleetEdit

Swiss International Air Lines retired aircraft
Aircraft Fleet Introduced Retired Replacement Notes/Refs
Airbus A319-100 8 2002 2020 Airbus A320neo Taken over from Swissair.
Airbus A330-200 15 2002 2012 Airbus A330-300 Taken over from Swissair.
Avro RJ85 4 2002 2007 Airbus A320 family Taken over from Crossair.
Avro RJ100 24 2002 2017 Airbus A220-300 Taken over from Crossair.
Embraer ERJ-145 25 2002 2007 Airbus A320 family 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 A320 family Taken over from Crossair.
McDonnell Douglas MD-83 10 2002 2005 Airbus A320 family Taken over from Crossair.
Saab 2000 31 2002 2005 Avro RJ100 Taken over from Crossair.


  • "Lufthansa Group 3rd Interim report 2013" (PDF).
  • Ken Donohue, "Swiss continues a proud tradition", Airways Magazine: A Global Review of Commercial Flight, March 2008, 22–23, 25, 28.
  1. ^ "Swiss, Facts & Figures". Archived from the original on 14 August 2009. Retrieved 19 December 2010.
  2. ^ "List of AOC Holders with Complex Airplanes" (PDF). Federal Office of Civil Aviation. 28 March 2018. Retrieved 20 April 2018.
  3. ^ a b c "Facts and figures". Swiss International Air Lines. Retrieved 19 April 2017.
  4. ^ "Swiss International Air Lines AG." Office du Registre du commerce du canton de Bâle-Ville. Retrieved on 13 March 2008.
  5. ^ a b "SWISS reports EBIT of CHF 429 million for 2016" (PDF). Swiss International Air Lines. 16 March 2017. Retrieved 19 April 2017.
  6. ^ "Swiss International Air Lines Zurich. Swiss International Air Lines" (PDF). Retrieved 25 December 2012.
  7. ^ "Impressum." Swiss International Air Lines. Retrieved on 22 June 2010. "Rechtssitz der Gesellschaft Swiss International Air Lines AG Malzgasse 15 CH-4052 Basel."
  8. ^ "Airline Beginnings". Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  9. ^ a b "Swiss - Facts & Figures". Retrieved 23 February 2010.
  10. ^ "Swiss resumes regular flight operations on Thursday". Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  11. ^ "Swiss TravelClub becomes Miles & More". Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  12. ^ "Kuoni and SWISS enter into strategic partnership" (Press release). Retrieved 19 December 2010.
  13. ^ "WEKO approves the acquisition of Edelweiss Air by SWISS" (Press release). Retrieved 19 December 2010.
  14. ^ "SWISS acquires Servair to operate as Swiss Private Aviation" (Press release). Retrieved 19 December 2010.
  15. ^ "Goodbye, with gratitude" (Press release). Retrieved 20 May 2011.
  16. ^ "Swiss looks forward with new A330-300 premium offerings". Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  17. ^ "SWISS takes off into a new future with Lufthansa". 2005. Archived from the original on 24 October 2008. Retrieved 27 July 2009.
  18. ^ "Eleven airlines fined in European cargo cartel investigation". Retrieved 10 November 2010.
  19. ^ SWISS renforce son positionnement et affine son image de marque, Swiss, 4 October 2011
  20. ^ New logo: Swiss International Air Lines, on 4 October 2011
  21. ^ "SWISS unveils foundation for solid future". Swiss International Air Lines. Retrieved 1 July 2010. The Annual Results Press Conference takes place at 11:00, Tuesday, 23 March at the SWISS head office at Basel EuroAirport.
  22. ^ "Plan interactif". Saint-Louis (Haut-Rhin). Archived from the original on 14 November 2009. Retrieved 25 September 2009.
  23. ^ "How to find us". Farnair Europe. Archived from the original on 27 May 2011. Retrieved 8 December 2010.
  24. ^ "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!
  25. ^ (accessed on 16 February 2014)
  26. ^ "Industry Briefs". Airline Industry Information. 2 July 2002. Archived from the original on 2 November 2012. Retrieved 12 January 2010. According to a company statement, the new name replaces Crossair at the corporate headquarters in Basel.
  27. ^ "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)
  28. ^ "Company Profile". SWISS. Retrieved 24 March 2020.
  29. ^ "SWISStours, a 100% subsidiary of Swiss International Air Lines". SWISStours. Retrieved 25 June 2019. Since 1997, SWISStours offers booking of hotels, apartments, rail passes, packages, and sightseeing in Switzerland, Europe, and other countries across the world.
  30. ^ "SWISS Economy Europe." Swiss International Air Lines". Retrieved 25 December 2012.
  31. ^ "Airtrain Between Zurich airport and Basel SBB." Swiss International Air Lines. Retrieved on 29 October 2016.
  32. ^ "Swissbus Bus transportation between Ottawa and Montreal-Trudeau airport" (Archive). Swiss International Air Lines. 20 June 2012. Retrieved on 29 October 2016.
  33. ^ a b "Fees for partner airlines". SWISS.
  34. ^
  35. ^ "Swiss Aircraft Registry". Federal Office of Civil Aviation. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
  36. ^ "Swiss Fleet Details and History". Retrieved 22 March 2020.
  37. ^ "Airbus A220-100". Swiss International Air Lines.
  38. ^ "Airbus A220-300". Swiss International Air Lines.
  39. ^ "Airbus A320-200". Swiss International Air Lines.
  40. ^ a b "Neue Swiss-Strategie".
  41. ^ a b "Feste Order von Airbus A320 Neo und A321 Neo: Lufthansa legt sich weitere 27 Neos zu | aeroTELEGRAPH". aeroTELEGRAPH (in German). 28 September 2018. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  42. ^ 23 Mar; Plus, 2018 Kurt Hofmann | ATW. "SWISS prepares for A320neo service entry". Retrieved 28 April 2019.
  43. ^ a b "SWISS to further invest in latest-generation aircraft". Swiss International Air Lines (Press release). 28 September 2018. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  44. ^ "Airbus A321--100/200". Swiss International Air Lines.
  45. ^ "Swiss considering A321neo(LR)". Retrieved 8 October 2017.
  46. ^ "Airbus A330-300". Swiss International Air Lines.
  47. ^ "Airbus A340-300". Swiss International Air Lines.
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  49. ^ "Boeing 777-300ER". Swiss International Air Lines.
  50. ^ "Swiss to lease more E190s from Helvetic instead of Q400s". ch-aviation. Retrieved 12 June 2019.
  51. ^ "Adria Airways dépose son bilan, les vols de Swiss affectés" [Adria Airways files for bankruptcy, Swiss flights affected]. (in French). 1 October 2019.
  52. ^ "Vereinfachung: Swiss entsorgt Swiss Global Air Lines | aeroTELEGRAPH". aeroTELEGRAPH (in German). 5 April 2018. Retrieved 3 May 2018.
  53. ^ Airliner World January 2007
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  55. ^ "Swiss to order three Boeing 777-300ERs". Aviation Tribune. Retrieved 12 March 2015.
  56. ^ " - Luftfahrt-Nachrichten und -Community". Retrieved 24 April 2015.
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  60. ^ "Curtain falls on Swiss Avro operations after 27 years".

External linksEdit

  Media related to Swiss International Air Lines at Wikimedia Commons