World-first SWISS Business Seat sets new comfort benchmarks

21 May 2008

SWISS is adopting a mould-breaking new seating concept for its intercontinental Business Class cabins. The new seats – the first of their kind anywhere in the world – will be gradually installed throughout the SWISS long-haul fleet from spring 2009 onwards. The new seating will give SWISS Business travellers a “bed above the clouds” which is fully reclinable and two metres long. The lie-flat seats will also set new benchmarks with their air cushion feature, which allows seat hardness to be set for each seating position to meet individual wishes and needs. The new SWISS Business cabin should be installed aboard around a third of the carrier’s long-haul fleet by the end of next year.

SWISS’s consistent pursuit of its ongoing quality drive will soon be delivering tangible benefits for SWISS Business customers in the form of a unique new seating concept for the carrier’s long-haul aircraft. The new SWISS Business Seat offers optimum travel comfort. The seat can be fully reclined to a lie-flat position offering a “bed above the clouds” that is two metres long. And that’s not all: the new seat also features a world first in the form of an air cushion that extends throughout its length. Hard as a futon, soft as a water bed or any level in between: the choice is the customer’s. The new seat boasts further extras, too, such as an integrated massage function, USB and iPod sockets and a bigger 16:9-format inflight entertainment screen. The new SWISS Business Seat is also a further consistent element in the SWISS corporate identity.

The new seats and their arrangement will also offer a high degree of privacy and mobility within the cabin. Virtually all the seats will have direct aisle access, putting every traveller next to an aisle for loadings of up to 90%.

New comfort highs for the entire long-haul fleet

Work will begin next spring on installing the new SWISS Business Seat throughout the SWISS long-haul fleet. The new Airbus A330-300s which will join the fleet from 2009 onwards will all feature the new seats. In addition to the innovative new seating concept, their entire interior will be consistently aligned to customer needs. The Airbus A340s, the biggest aircraft in the SWISS fleet, will also be equipped with the new SWISS Business Seat. Under the current schedule, around one-third of the SWISS long-haul fleet should be fitted with the new SWISS Business cabin in 2009. A large proportion of the fleet will be refurbished in 2010; and all SWISS Business customers should be enjoying a truly excellent inflight seating and sleeping experience on all SWISS long-haul flights by 2011.

“We are extremely proud to have helped develop this global seating innovation, together with several hundred of our customers,” says SWISS CEO Christoph Franz. “And we are particularly delighted to be the first airline in the world to offer these substantially-enhanced levels of on-board seating and sleeping comfort.”

“Our new SWISS Business Seat is a further consistent step in our ongoing quality drive that has been under way for more than three years now,” adds SWISS Chief Marketing & Strategy Officer Christoph Beckmann. “SWISS continues to invest in adding value for its customers. And the rightness of our strategy is fully confirmed by our business results: we have seen above-average growth in the use of our Business and First Class since our quality drive began; and this has further strengthened our position and our profile as a genuine quality airline.”

Swiss innovation for SWISS
The innovative new interior concept has been developed under SWISS’s overall charge in collaboration with numerous specialist companies in and outside Switzerland. The new seats’ adjustable air cushion – the first of its kind anywhere in the world – has been developed by Lantal, a medium-sized Swiss-based company that is a global market leader in the design, manufacture and distribution of textiles for transport applications, with a particular focus on the international airline community. Both Lantal and SWISS are committed to ensuring optimum comfort and well-being for the traveller.

“Our collaboration with Switzerland’s national airline underlines both our high quality standards and our leading market position,” says Urs Rickenbacher, CEO of Lantal. “We are very proud that SWISS will be the first airline to offer this landmark innovation to its customers. And the development of our pneumatic seat cushion is a tribute to Swiss innovation and to our unique locational advantages.”

Seat unveiling with Lauriane Gilliéron in the new SWISS Lounge
The new SWISS Business Seat made its début today in the appropriately impressive surroundings of the new SWISS Senator Lounge at Zurich Airport. The new seat was unveiled by actress and former Miss Switzerland Lauriane Gilliéron.

The redesigned and expanded SWISS Senator Lounge continues the concept adopted for the SWISS airport lounges already opened in Zurich, Geneva and New York. The three-class lounge concept – for Business Class, Miles & More Senators and First Class travellers – puts a firm emphasis on “SWISSness” to implement this aspect of the SWISS corporate identity. The Jurassic limestone walls lend a particular note and blend superbly with the furnishings, which have been provided by the reputed Vitra design house.

The modernisation and expansion of SWISS’s Zurich airport lounges will be completed with the opening of the new Business Class Lounge in time for this summer’s European Football Championships, of which Switzerland is co-host. And here, too, SWISS will be putting clear accents on quality and design.

Green gains as well
The new SWISS Business Seat is probably the lightest of its kind. The air cushion alone makes the new seats some four kilos lighter than they would be with conventional foam padding. The weight reduction will save SWISS over 650 tonnes of kerosene a year, and this in turn will lower the company’s annual CO2 emissions by over 2 000 tonnes.