The Airbus A220 Will Be Key To SWISS’ Short Haul Strategy

SWISS had faith in the Airbus A220 even when the type was going by the name of the Bombardier CSeries. The first unit of the narrowbody arrived at the flag carrier of Switzerland’s facilities in June 2016. Now, the airline holds 29 A220s within its fleet. At Routes Reconnected today, SWISS CEO Dieter Vranckx spoke about how the plane be a key feature for his company.

The last SWISS Airbus A220 delivery was in July 2019. Photo: SWISS

A shift in approach

Vranckx only began his role as chief executive of SWISS at the start of this year, succeeding Thomas Klühr. Despite being new to the role, Vranckx has held various high positions in the aviation market since the 1990s, including posts across the Lufthansa Group. So, he has the right experience to help the Lufthansa subsidiary in the recovery process following the pandemic.

Flight frequencies are presently only a fraction of what they were in 2019. For example, SWISS used to serve Brussels up to 35 times a week. However, this figure falls as low as three weekly flights amid the ongoing restrictions.

Nevertheless, Vranckx is fully confident that passenger activity will grow strongly once consistent market recovery gets going. However, he understands that trends will be different from what they were before. For instance, with industries adapting to digital processes, there may continue to be less business travel demand. The carrier will nonetheless still offer an attractive offering in this segment, but there may be fewer frequencies.

SWISS Airbus A220
The airline’s A220-100 has a max range with full load of 5,740 km (3,099 NM), while the A220-300’s figure is 6,100 km (3,294 NM). Photo: SWISS

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The short-haul fleet

Between 2019 and 2020, SWISS retired its final five Airbus A319 aircraft. The airline also hasn’t had any turboprops since 2017.

While many carriers were forced to let go of aircraft and restructure their fleets due to the pandemic, SWISS had already been getting its fleet into gear to provide more efficient services.

“We don’t have a small gauge aircraft. We don’t have props anymore, and we don’t have A319s anymore. So, the easy ones are gone on our side. So, we see that the Airbus A220, which we have, is a very efficient aircraft and is definitely one aircraft to consider after coronavirus,” shared at the Routes Reconnected event.

“At the same time, once most of coronavirus is behind us, the topic of sustainability will increase again and be on the forefront.”

SWISS plane
SWISS’ A220s are joined by A320 and A321 aircraft on short and medium-haul operations. Photo: SWISS

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The right balance

SeatGuru shares that SWISS’s A220-100 aircraft hold 125 seats, divided between 20 business class and 105 economy seats. Meanwhile, the carrier’s A220-300 jets are configured with 145 seats, with 30 in business class and 115 in economy.

Overall, SWISS is a fan of the benefits that come with the A220, such as its ability to reduce noise levels. It highlights that the aircraft’s two Pratt & Whitney PW1524G engines help set new profitability and environmental standards.

Notably, fuel consumption is reduced by as much as 25% when compared with some of its counterparts. So, with cost-saving and sustainability high on SWISS’ agenda in the next chapter, the A220 will undoubtedly prove useful on trips across Europe.

What are your thoughts about SWISS’ prospects with the Airbus A220? Do you think it’s the right aircraft to lead the airline into the next chapter when it comes to shorter routes? Let us know what you think in the comment section.