SWISS ensures a direct link between Switzerland and the rest of the world
The Airline of Switzerland
It is essential for the Swiss economy to have air transport connections to key trade markets and a dense network of routes – especially as the nation is dependent on global exports. As a strong national airline, SWISS provides direct connections between Switzerland and international markets via the Zurich hub, thereby playing a significant supportive role in the Swiss economy. 90% of SWISS employees work in Switzerland and the company purchases more than 70% of its products and services from Swiss suppliers. However, without the hub system, SWISS would not be able to maintain its competitiveness in the global market.
The Hub-System in Zurich
The hub system is a way of linking more than 100 SWISS destinations across a few central points. Zurich Airport serves as one of these hubs for SWISS. Arrivals and departures are organised in six different waves to ensure the shortest possible connections and attractive departure times. As Martin Apsel-von zur Gathen, Head of Network Management, explains, “A hub is a complex structure – from both an operational and a commercial point of view. Local demand on its own is not enough to fill the long-haul flights every day. This is important for us, however, because we have a high percentage of First and Business Class passengers, and these, in turn, need a daily connection. And to ensure that, we need feeder flights.” Feeder flights enable us to fill SWISS flights to good capacity, which makes both environmental and business sense
Foundations for the Future
While demand for flight services is continuing to increase, SWISS is already meeting its limits in terms of capacity today. Due to the frequency of unconducive weather, the existing infrastructure and the comparatively strict night flying restrictions, Zurich Airport is considered to be one of the most limited airports of its kind in Europe. Since 2010, tightened night flying restrictions have been in place between 11.30 p.m. and 6 a.m., although the time slot from 11 p.m. to 11.30 p.m. may only be used to clear the backlog of delays. If this flexibility is further restricted, hub operations at Zurich airport would become more difficult; it would be fatal for SWISS. A longer night flying restriction would mean that an increasing number of direct flights need to be dropped, as Martin Rieder, Head of Hub Control, emphasises, “That would mean that we would lose the reliable hub of Zurich as a connecting airport. Passengers would travel via other hubs. And because we can’t allow ourselves any leeway throughout the day, this would mean that many passengers would miss their connecting flight. This would have an impact on our capacity and put SWISS’ entire long-haul operations in danger.” This would result in the SWISS network being thinned out and Zurich Airport would become less attractive to travellers. As a consequence, global companies and organisations that have their headquarters in Switzerland will move to places where connections are better – to the detriment of the Swiss economy, society and tourism.
We firmly believe that the future connection of Switzerland – as a commercial, financial and tourism-focused nation – can only be guaranteed if the Zurich hub can benefit from the growth prospects that it needs. This is why SWISS, together with system partners and key stakeholders, have begun designing the hub of the future and establishing the prerequisites that will enable SWISS and Swiss air transport to compete in the global marketplace and ensure that Switzerland can maintain its competitive strengths.
Look out for the upcoming blog post that outlines the initiatives that SWISS and its system partners are planning for the Zurich hub.