SWISS to serve Lugano with Cirrus Airlines

01. March 2004

SWISS will continue to guarantee reliable air services to and from Canton Ticino. But, in view of the new stricter regulations on approaches to Lugano Airport, SWISS is now obliged to have these flights performed by another air carrier. Thus, from April 1 onwards, all SWISS services between Zurich and Lugano will be operated by German regional carrier Cirrus Airlines. The flights will be performed by a Dash 8-300 aircraft, a type which is certificated for the steep approaches required. SWISS’s own Avro RJ and Saab 2000 aircraft which have been used on the route to date do not comply with the new approach requirements. SWISS’s schedules to and from Lugano remain unchanged.

Lugano remains firmly within the SWISS route network, with four daily services offered in each direction between Lugano and Zurich. The Dash 8-300 aircraft operated by regional carrier Cirrus Airlines feature both Business Class and Economy Class seating and will fly the well-established schedules between the two cities. Cirrus Airlines will operate these services under a “wet lease” agreement, i.e. providing both the aircraft and the cockpit and cabin crews.The 50-seat Dash 8-300 is certificated to perform the steep approaches required for Lugano Airport, and is able to perform instrument approaches and landings. The new equipment will thus provide a firmer guarantee that services can be operated even during fog or other adverse weather.

A new approach procedure

Following the introduction of new stricter approach regulations for Lugano Airport last November, and in view of the expiration at the end of June 2004 of the special regulations covering the visual approaches currently performed, SWISS’s Saab 2000s would not always be able to offer such reliability, as they are not certificated to perform instrument approaches to Lugano. SWISS’s Avro RJs, which are occasionally used on the route, are also unable to comply with the new regulations.

In Cirrus Airlines, SWISS has teamed up with a top-class partner which already has experience of operations to and from Lugano: the carrier, which is domiciled in Saarbrücken, Germany, already operates services on the Lugano-Geneva route.