By Victor Shalton
SWISS Shifts Focus To Leisure Travel, Sustainability
Swiss International Airlines is reshaping its once-sprawling global network to focus more on vacation destinations as leisure travelers become more important post-pandemic.
The airline is set to fly to the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh as part of its ongoing transition towards a leisure focus, launching weekly services connecting Geneva to Sharm el-Sheikh along with Tenerife and Madeira from September 4. The airline will utilize its new Airbus A220-300 jetliner, of which it currently has 21 in its fleet, alongside nine of the A220-200 variant.
More than a year after the pandemic curtailed leisure air travel, airlines are turning to their most price-sensitive customers, focusing on the pent up demand for vacations and launching new routes to lure more vacationers.
The route between Geneva and Sharm el-Sheikh has not been served since 2014, when easyJet offered service without competition following Edelweiss Air’s exit from the market in 2012.
According to a previous interview with routesonline, SWISS CEO Dieter Vranckx mentioned that the carrier would have “a little bit more capacity pouring into the leisure destinations” as it seeks to rebuild its network.
“I can say for sure that SWISS will become smaller. We need to adjust our size according to the market structure size, and therefore we will readjust the size of the company downwards,” he said.
From Geneva, SWISS also offers to service to Hurghada, while it also connects the Egyptian capital Cairo with Switzerland’s largest city, Zurich.
Currently more than 6.4 million seats are scheduled from Egypt this winter after falling to 4 million in the previous season, which is less than half of the 8.7 million seen in 2019/20.
Meanwhile, Swiss International Air Lines partnered with Neste – one of the world’s leading provider for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) – to establish the first-ever “end-to-end logistics chain” for importing SAF to Switzerland. This makes SWISS the first commercial airline to use SAF in its scheduled flight operations from Switzerland.
“We are delighted to have received the first delivery of our own-sourced SAF into Switzerland so soon after these new customs regulations came into force,” said SWISS CEO Dieter Vranckx.
“For years now, SWISS and the Lufthansa Group have been lobbying for the import of sustainable aviation fuels, because these will be the key technology for the mid-to-long term future in enabling us to achieve our climate goals for 2030 using present aircraft powerplant technologies. We would like to thank everyone who has been involved in establishing this new process and has worked to make it happen – especially the Swiss customs authorities, Flughafen Zürich AG, Avenergy and Neste,” Vranckx continued.
Neste’s SAF is made from sustainably-sourced renewable waste and residue raw materials. Its use can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 80 per cent compared to fossil fuels.
SAF will be fueled at Zurich Airport via the conventional hydrant system. The Neste SAF blend is Jet A-1 certificated and can be used just like fossil jet fuel on all aircraft types without any modifications required to the aircraft or its engines.