For most travelers, when given the choice between a widebody or narrowbody aircraft on the same route, most would prefer the former. With a higher ceiling and generally more legroom, widebodies are almost always deployed on long-haul services. However, from mid-January, passengers flying between Brussels and Zurich on SWISS will be in for a real treat as the carrier plans to use its A330s, A340s, and 777s on this service.
The SWISS plan
According to FlightLevel.be, SWISS will deploy its widebody aircraft on the Zurich-Brussels route from Friday, January 15th. Initially this will only take place once a week, using the A330-300, 777-300, or A340-300. The exact flight will be LX788 on the outbound, which departs Zurich for Brussels at 16:40 and arrives at 17:55. Returning as LX789, the aircraft will depart Brussels at 18:45 and arrive back in Zurich at 20:00. All times listed are local.
With the two major European cities so close to one another, the flight time each way ranges between just 45 and 55 minutes – an incredibly uncommon distance for a widebody aircraft. Indeed, SWISS typically operates much smaller aircraft on this route, including the Airbus A320, A220-100 (and -300), and Embraer E190.
The larger-capacity widebodies have been scheduled on the route until the end of March.
Why is the airline doing this?
FlightLevel.be notes that this aircraft-schedule-modification is due to the worldwide distribution of vaccines. This means that the additional capacity isn’t being added to handle more passengers, but rather to accommodate an increase in cargo.
With Puurs, Belgium home to the production facility manufacturing the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, SWISS may not be the only airline flying atypical aircraft types to Brussels in the coming weeks and months. We’ll definitely have to keep an eye out for these interesting services and report on them as they arise.
Other short-distance widebody routes
During ‘normal’ times there are indeed a few routes in the world where passengers can enjoy widebody comfort on very short flights. The extra capacity is either due to the route being extremely popular, or an airline operating a fifth-freedom route to serve an additional destination and increase aircraft utilization.
Below are just a few examples:
- KLM’s fifth-freedom service between Kuwait and Bahrain, often operated with an Airbus A330.
- Emirates’ service between Dubai and Muscat, which would have the crown of ‘world’s shortest A380 service.’
- Flights between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. This incredibly popular route saw widebodies flown by Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, and AirAsiaX. Ethiopian Airlines even flew the route as a fifth-freedom service using a Boeing 787.
If you were already planning to fly between the cities of Brussels and Zurich early next year, would you adjust your schedule to catch a flight on one of SWISS’ widebodies? Let us know in the comments.