SWISS continues steady expansion of its aircraft fleet - 550 new jobs

SWISS continues to climb and to follow its course towards profitable and sustainable growth. In addition to the two further Airbus A330s whose acquisition has already been communicated, Switzerland's airline should be adding three more Airbus A340 aircraft to its long-haul fleet within the next two years. With the arrival of all five transports, SWISS will operate a fleet of 23 long-haul aircraft. In the last few months, the airline has already announced gradual fleet expansions through the addition of the two A330s and three more short-haul transports. SWISS has created the scope for these investments, and for the sustainable growth they should help achieve, by successfully conducting its corporate restructuring over the past two years. The fleet expansion planned will also create 550 new jobs among SWISS's flying personnel. SWISS has been pursuing a comprehensive corporate restructuring programme since the beginning of 2005. The programme has seen cost structures substantially improved by standardising the regional aircraft fleet, renegotiating contracts with suppliers, realigning terms of employment to the current competitive environment and raising productivity in all areas of activity. The company's business performance has received additional lift from its fruitful collaboration with Lufthansa, from its new membership of Star Alliance and through the generally favourable overall economic climate. These actions and developments have now given SWISS the scope to invest in its future with a view to achieving profitable growth and to taking optimum advantage of the market opportunities available. With the three additional Airbus A340s which it now plans to acquire and the two Airbus A330s that will enter revenue service on November 14 and mid-December respectively, SWISS will operate a fleet of 23 long-haul aircraft from the 2008 summer schedules. As announced in September, the SWISS Airbus short-haul fleet will also be growing from 25 to 28 aircraft over the next few months. So for the 2007 summer schedules, SWISS will operate a fleet of 72 aircraft serving 70 destinations worldwide. "These expansions of our short-haul and long-haul fleets will allow us to effect further gradual enhancements of our route network, and this in turn will make our services even more attractive to our customers," says SWISS CEO Christoph Franz. "SWISS continues to climb. Our management and our personnel have laid a firm foundation for profitable future growth. We now intend to continue consistently along our chosen path, taking full advantage of the market opportunities that arise and further strengthening Switzerland's air links with the world." The fleet expansion planned will prompt an increase in staff numbers, too: some 550 new jobs are expected to be created among SWISS's flying personnel over the next two years. Long-haul service enhancements SWISS intends to further improve its service product by offering daily frequencies to as many of its long-haul destinations as possible. To this end, the two additional Airbus A330s will be used to provide further frequencies on existing routes. One of the two new aircraft will enter service tomorrow, November 14, on flights to East and West Africa, replacing the Hapag Lloyd aircraft currently leased in to operate these routes. The second A330 will enter service in mid-December as planned, and will be used to provide additional frequencies on various intercontinental routes to North America, Africa and the Middle East. For the three additional Airbus A340s it intends to acquire, SWISS has concluded the corresponding memoranda of understanding and detailed negotiations are well advanced. The first of the three further A340s, which SWISS will be acquiring from its Star Alliance partner Air Canada, will also be used to intensify service on existing routes. The two further A340s, which will be acquired from Star Alliance partner Austrian Airlines, should be available to effect future network expansions from the 2008 summer schedules. These transports will initially be used as capacity cover, to enable other SWISS long-haul aircraft to undergo their requisite maintenance visits. A larger fleet for Europe, too SWISS resolved in September to add a further three aircraft to its short-haul Airbus fleet, through the lease-in of two more Airbus A321s and an additional Airbus A320. The A321s will be used on routes with high passenger volumes, replacing the smaller-capacity aircraft which are currently deployed. In a further development, all the aircraft of SWISS's Airbus A320 family - A319s, A320s and A321s - will feature new redesigned seats and cabin interiors by spring 2007. The additional A320, which will join the fleet at the beginning of December, will be used to cover the downtimes of other short-haul fleet members undergoing these refurbishments. With their enhanced ergonomics and the light materials used in their manufacture, the new seats both improve seating comfort and offer higher cabin capacity. As a result, the refurbished A321s will accommodate 200 passengers (instead of the present 186) and the refitted A319s will seat 138 (instead of 126). The lighter seats will also reduce overall weight, resulting in lower fuel consumption for the aircraft involved.

Source: SWISS
Date: Nov 13, 2006

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