After a six-year break, Swiss announces new long-haul routes for the first time. Despite expansion towards Japan and the United States, CEO Thomas Klühr is unhappy about the conditions in Zurich.
It has been quite some time since Swiss announced a new long-haul destination. Now the time has come again. In spring 2020, two new Boeing 777-300 ER aircraft will join the fleet of the Lufthansa subsidiary. These will make it possible to add two new destinations to the route network. Two non-stop connections to Osaka and Washington, D.C. will be added. The route to the Japanese city will be operated five times a week from March 1st onwards, and daily flights to Washington D.C. will commence on March 29th.
Seoul, the South Korean capital, was actually considered a favorite – and Swiss also mentioned it repeatedly. In an interview with the Sonntagszeitung, boss Thomas Klühr explains: «The list still exists, and Seoul is on it.» Taking all aspects into account it was concluded that Osaka was the best addition alongside Washington. «There is still no direct flight to Osaka from Zurich. And the Japanese market has developed strongly in recent months. Lufthansa has also made very good experiences with the route from Munich.»
Criticism towards Zurich Airport
Even though new destinations are in fact good news, Klühr is only moderately optimistic. «The increasingly difficult conditions at our hub in Zurich pose a major challenge,» he says in a media release. «The already extremely restrictive operating times and the increasing burden of noise-related and other charges are increasingly endangering stability in flight operations. A further tightening of the general conditions would seriously jeopardize our range of destinations.»
He even goes a little further in the interview. «I am not sure whether I would be able to purchase the two aircraft under today’s conditions,» says Klühr. Swiss and its mother company Lufthansa have been criticizing the conditions at the Swiss hub for some time. Above all, people are currently worried that the last intercontinental flights of the evening might be rescheduled to earlier departure times.
Transfer flights of existential importance for Swiss
«If the last intercontinental flights had to take off earlier, all feeder flights from Europe would also have to arrive earlier. But we can’t start earlier in the morning. In the end, this means that the aircraft, which has been a major financial investment, will fly far less than before and thus generate less revenue,» Klühr told the Sonntagszeitung.
Swiss depends on transfer passengers for most long-haul connections, as the Swiss market itself is not large enough. If only domestic guests were transported, according to the Swiss boss, a maximum of five long-haul destinations could be served profitably.
On the new route to Osaka, Swiss is using its Airbus A340, to Washington the A330. The two new Boeing 777s will be used to increase capacity on the Miami and Tokyo flights.