SWISS To Reduce Widebody Fleet By 5 Planes

Following a constructive consolation process, Switzerland’s national flag carrier SWISS will reduce its workforce and remove five widebody aircraft from its fleet. In a statement released today, the airline said that it expects to see a 20% decline in customer demand in the medium term.

SWISS A340 getty
SWISS has five Airbus A340s. Photo: Getty Images

Like other airlines worldwide that have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, SWISS has crunched the numbers and is ready to downsize. SWISS estimates that it will cut its workforce by as many as 1,700 jobs by the end of this year. It says that people opting to leave and natural staff turnover will account for two-thirds of the job losses.

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SWISS will terminate 492 employees

Of the 492 employees SWISS plans to terminate, 334 are cabin crew, 131 are ground staff, and 57 work for SWISS Technics. After consultations with unions, pilots will not lose their jobs, but they will see a reduction in their working hours. When speaking about the job losses in the company statement, SWISS CEO Dieter Vranckx said,

“I am truly sorry for all our employees who are being served notice, and it is with the deepest of regret that we are having to take this radical action in response to the structural changes that our industry is experiencing. We are convinced, though, that this is the right course to take if we are to repay our bank loans, regain our ability to invest, and retain our competitive credentials.”

SWISS will reduce its fleet by 15%

Currently, the Lufthansa Group airline operates a fleet of 90 aircraft and those of Swiss regional airline Helvetic Airways under wet lease arrangements. In response to a decline in demand, SWISS says it will reduce its fleet by 15% compared to 2019.

Without naming which planes will go, SWISS says that five of them will be Airbus A340s or Airbus A330s along with ten short-haul aircraft. SWISS says that on the short-haul fleet front, most of the planes will be those operated on wet leases from Helvetic Airways. SWISS says it is also re-evaluating its routes and will delay the resumption of flights to some long-haul destinations.

The average age of the SWISS A340 fleet is 17.7 years. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

“In the future, SWISS will be smaller. But it will also be more focused, more digital, more efficient, and more sustainable,” says Vranckx.

“The transformation planned will be conducted over the next three years through our ‘reach’ strategic program, with which we aim to realign our company to the changed market situation and achieve sustainable cost savings of some CHF 500 million ($556.15 million).”

Which planes will go?

Seeing how SWISS has not yet decided what planes it wants to retire, let’s look at aviation data and statistics website ch-aviation and see if we can figure out which planes are for the chop. Even without looking, we have to assume that the Airbus A340s must go as they are far less efficient than twin-engine A330s.

Considering the SWISS Airbus A340 situation, we can see that of the five A340-300 aircraft SWISS have, four are currently active while one is undergoing maintenance. Curiously SWISS did mention in the statement that it was getting rid of five widebody planes which correspond to the number of A340s that it has.

According to ch-aviation, the average age of the A340s is 17.7 years.  Regarding the Airbus A330-300, SWISS operates a fleet of 14, of which four are active, and ten are listed as being stored. The average age of these planes is 10.7 years which is seven years younger than the A340s.

SWISS owned and operated Edelweiss is still expected to operate some A340 aircraft.

Helvetic E190
A Helvetic Airways operates wet lease flights for SWISS. Photo: Getty Images

Regarding the short hall aircraft, the obvious candidates are the Embraer E190 aircraft that SWISS wet leases from Helvetic Airways. As for the other planes, the oldest aircraft in the SWISS fleet are five Airbus A321-100s that are just under 25-years-old.

Do you like me think that SWISS is going to retire its A340s? Please tell us what you think in the comments.