SWISS strengthens position in Western Switzerland

12 November 2012

Swiss International Air Lines is planning to make extensive changes to its organisational and market-development activities in Geneva. The aim is to offer Geneva-based customers a service that is even more flexible and more closely tailored to their specific needs. The overall SWISS product offer is to be aligned to local requirements to optimum effect. Measures planned include the creation of a Geneva operations base with its own flying personnel and management organisation.

In setting up the new organisation and implementing a more flexible product for this market, SWISS is striving to respond with even greater effectiveness to the needs and wishes of customers in French-speaking Switzerland. "By taking these steps we want to strengthen our clear commitment to Geneva," commented SWISS CEO Harry Hohmeister, adding "the course of steady growth, which we embarked upon in 2006, is now entering a new stage."

To achieve the stated goal, SWISS will establish a separate crew base in Geneva that will comprise some 160 cabin crew members and 90 pilots. Chief Operating Officer Rainer Hiltebrand offered this perspective on the new format for Geneva: “With locally based crew members who speak French as their mother tongue and have roots in the region, we can better serve the needs of our customers in Western Switzerland. Further, this will facilitate a more efficient operation out of Geneva Airport because we will be able to function with greater flexibility.” SWISS is convinced that current crew members from French-speaking Switzerland will welcome the opportunity to be stationed in Geneva. In a parallel development, the airline plans to hire new personnel from this part of the country.

New management team for Geneva

In a related move, SWISS will appoint an independent management team to be based at Geneva Airport as a means of strengthening its presence in the Geneva market. This organisation will be largely responsible for shaping the local product and the manner in which this market is cultivated. "Granting the management team in Geneva greater autonomy will enable us to serve this market in a more targeted way and respond swiftly to changes," said CEO Harry Hohmeister.

Product tailored for Geneva-based customers

The focus of SWISS activity in the Geneva region is to be geared to local requirements through more flexible and intensified sales and distribution efforts but also on the basis of the product offered and the services provided on board and on the ground. With additional, value-added offers tailored to the market of Western Switzerland, SWISS is aiming to expand, in a targeted fashion, its range of services in connection with flights from Geneva Airport. Examples in this regard are the one-way fare offers launched in August, along with convenient new services such as baggage pick-up service. Distribution activities online are to be increased and managed according to local demand. On board, meanwhile, more products and specialities from the local region are to be served.

"Following our successful development and expansion in recent years, we would like to offer our customers in French-speaking Switzerland a product tailored to their needs," explained CEO Harry Hohmeister.

SWISS remains SWISS

In strengthening its presence in Geneva, SWISS remains committed to its strategy of being a quality airline and will continue with its high-quality, all-inclusive product offer in future. “We are not going to initiate any price wars either. In line with what our customers want, we will apply a broader palette of services to offer them the best possible value for money," stated CEO Harry Hohmeister.

The portfolio of destinations SWISS serves from Geneva will also become more flexible, with the introduction of more seasonal services. The first changes of this type will take effect in the 2013 summer timetable period.

Frequencies to some destinations will be reduced, with one such example being the elimination of two daily flights to Athens. In return, frequencies to destinations such as Malaga and Palma de Mallorca will increase and holiday destinations Olbia and Catania will be added to the route network.

Geneva to have its own fleet

In another related development, a specific fleet for Geneva will be introduced. When SWISS begins taking delivery of the newly developed Bombardier CSeries as of 2014, this technically advanced generation of aircraft will gradually be put into service on flights to and from Geneva. The CSeries aircraft are powered by engines that lower fuel consumption by more than 20 per cent and reduce noise emissions by half.

The new set-up at Geneva serves as an efficiency driver for the entire company. “This bundle of measures is an important step toward restructuring our European operations, which, thanks to greater productivity and consistent market-orientation, will have a positive impact on revenues and costs,” stated CEO Harry Hohmeister.