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SWISS, the Airline of Switzerland

Read in: Deutsch or Français

SWISS celebrated its 15th birthday last year. And freelance author Werner Vogt has taken the occasion to chronicle the still young but already eventful history of The Airline of Switzerland.

SWISS, or more formally Swiss International Air Lines, was created in March 2002 on the foundations of Crossair and with parts of the former Swissair. The company’s first three years proved a genuine battle for survival, with its very existence threatened on more than one occasion. But with its acquisition by Lufthansa, SWISS achieved its turnaround at the end of 2005. And with the Lufthansa Group’s size and synergies, SWISS has since evolved into a profitable premium airline, and continues to proudly carry the Swiss cross on its tail fins all over the globe.

To enable him to obtain the information he required, SWISS gave Werner Vogt exclusive behind-the-scenes access to its flight operations. His journey here took him all over, to the maintenance teams in the hangars, an hour in a flight simulator, the valuables transported by Swiss World Cargo and the cockpit of a Boeing 777 – places to which few outsiders are ever granted access. And through these visits and contacts, Werner Vogt realised: Flying is still a highly emotional affair. Not just for the passengers, but for the pilots and the cabin staff as well.

In addition to the many historic events that have dotted the SWISS story since the company’s creation, Werner Vogt describes these impressions, too, in his richly illustrated 200-page account. The book also features interviews with the key personalities and decision makers in the story, both at and outside SWISS.

All in all, it’s a fascinating read – and not just for aviation fans! The book is only available in German.

Werner Vogt, who holds a doctorate in History and an executive MBA from St. Gallen University, is an author and a media specialist and the owner of Werner Vogt Communications AG. Prior to this, he spent 14 years as a journalist (including service as a foreigndesk and South Africa correspondent for the “Neue Zürcher Zeitung”) and over seven years as Head of Media Relations at the Swiss Stock Exchange/SIX. A specialist on Sir Winston Churchill, Werner Vogt has also published numerous books on a wide range of topics in the history, politics, business and society fields.

Milestones in the history of SWISS

31 January: André Dosé, the company’s first CEO, and Canadian designer Tyler Brûlé present the new SWISS brand.

31 March: Captain Markus Chatelain commands the first SWISS flight, from Basel to Zurich – an Avro RJ85 carrying 65 passengers.

2002

2003
1 July: SWISS puts its first Airbus A340-300 into service, launching a modernisation of its long-haul aircraft fleet.

23 September: SWISS announces that it is to join the oneworld airline alliance and will be signing a memorandum of understanding for a closer collaboration with British Airways. Neither plan comes to fruition.

10 March: CEO André Dosé announces his resignation. Chairman of the Board Pieter Bouw additionally becomes Interim CEO.

1 July: Pieter Bouw welcomes the new CEO Christoph Franz.

2004

2005
22 March: Following approval from all the relevant parties, a formal agreement is signed in Zurich for SWISS’s acquisition by Lufthansa.

3 October: The Swiss Air Transport Foundation is established, with Bruno Gehrig as its first chairman. The Foundation is intended to ensure SWISS’s continued independence within the Lufthansa Group.

7 April: SWISS joins Star Alliance, becoming its 17th member.

2006

2007
1 July: With all the necessary traffic rights secured, Deutsche Lufthansa AG formally acquires SWISS.

25 November: SWISS adds its first new long-haul destination to its network since its foundation – Delhi.

13 May: Service to Shanghai begins, with the first flight carrying Swiss Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard and SWISS CEO Christoph Franz.

Kuoni and SWISS conclude a strategic partnership that includes SWISS’s acquisition of Kuoni’s Edelweiss Air.

2008

2009
1 July: Harry Hohmeister takes over as SWISS CEO.

SWISS’s cabin crew members are issued with new uniforms, replacing the previous combination of Crossair and Swissair elements.

The eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano severely disrupts air transport Europewide.

SWISS gives one of its Airbus A340-300s a special “Flower Power” livery to mark its new Zurich–San Francisco service.

2010

2011
Time for an overhaul: SWISS adopts a new brand and logo.
11 February: SWISS resumes scheduled service to Beijing.

2012

2013
12 May: A new direct service is inaugurated to Singapore. CEO Harry Hohmeister is aboard the Airbus A340-300 for the first flight.
October: SWISS unveils its new “Next-Generation Airline of Switzerland” strategy with investments of several billion francs planned over the coming years, including renewing the aircraft fleet.

2014

2015
SWISS ceases its Basel flight operations at the end of May.
29 January: The first aircraft in an order of ten new Boeing 777-300ERs arrives in Zurich, escorted by the Swiss Air Force.

1 February: Thomas Klühr becomes SWISS CEO, taking over from Harry Hohmeister. The same day also sees the formal opening of the new SWISS First Class, Senator and Business Class Lounges in Zurich’s Terminal E.

1 July: SWISS receives the first of its 30 new Bombardier C Series aircraft. The CS100 – the first to be delivered to an airline anywhere in the world – arrives in Zurich accompanied by a veteran Lockheed Super Constellation.

2016

2017
The Geneva fleet renewal in favour of the Bombardier C Series begins. The first CS300 is dedicated to western Switzerland, with a special livery created by local artist Fichtre.

The book is only available in German.