Swiss tail fin (graphics)





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SWISS ends a successful year 2011

SWISS International Air Lines (SWISS) reported a successful close to the year 2011, despite the events in Japan and the Middle East/Africa and the modest performance of the global economy, and achieved an operating profit of EUR 259m.

An international network with a high-quality product

SWISS has its roots and its heart in Switzerland and cultivates the classical national values such as quality, punctuality and hospitality. The target group for SWISS particularly includes business travellers, but the company is also well established in the private travel segment as the airline of Switzerland. The holiday airline Edelweiss Air adds to the product range there. SWISS offers a three-class product on all intercontinental routes, with First, Business and Economy Class. Since autumn 2011 the entire wide-bodied fleet has been equipped with a new Business Class. As differentiating through brands is becoming more and more important in mass-market flight services, SWISS sharpened its brand profile as the airline of Switzerland last October. The tail fin with the Swiss cross as a new logo, the claim “Our sign is a promise” and a new advertising campaign embody the emphasis on Swiss quality and proximity to the customer.

Network and product range are well received

In 2011 SWISS set a new record for Swiss aviation, carrying over 16 million passengers (+8.0 per cent). Capacity rose by 9.0 per cent due to catch-up effects. The average passenger load factor came to 81.1 per cent (–1.1 percentage points). In its winter flight timetable 2011/2012 the airline serves 72 destinations in 38 countries from its hub in Zurich and the airports in Basel, Geneva and Lugano. In February SWISS made Beijing its 25th intercontinental destination with new daily flights from Zurich. The connection to Newark has also been flown by SWISS itself since the end of March.

In the cargo business, which makes a substantial contribution to revenue of 11 per cent on average, SWISS focuses on its niche as a carrier of high-value goods. Performance at SWISS World Cargo closely mirrored the uncertainty about global economic developments in 2011.

Freight volumes showed positive growth compared with 2010. The cargo load factor suffered over the course of the year, however, coming to an average of 52.6 per cent (–2.5 percentage points).

SWISS invests in further growth

SWISS is continuing its policy of investing in its fleet and products. In 2012 the fleet is to be expanded by three new Airbus A330-300s and two A320s. Altogether there are 40 aircraft on its order list, including more A330-300s and A320s and 30 Bombardier C-Series, which are to replace the Avro-RJ regional fleet successively from 2014. With a fleet of 93 aircraft, of which eight are operated under wet leases, the Swiss airline has the necessary flexibility to cope with the highly volatile environment in the industry. Its compact company size also allows company policy to stay particularly close to markets and customers. SWISS is currently building a site for routine technical maintenance. This will bolster operational independence in this area, which is very important for smooth flight operations. The new department will have around 200 employees. Overall, the company plans to create around 500 new jobs for cockpit, cabin and ground staff in 2012. 2011 saw the recruitment of 278 new employees.

Profitability to be increased

SWISS’s goal as a company is to maintain and build on its position as one of Europe’s leading airlines in terms of service, quality and profitability. In the 2011 financial year SWISS reported revenue of EUR 4.0bn (+14.0 per cent) and an operating profit of EUR 259m. The result was therefore down 13.1 per cent on the year, mainly due to the currency crisis. In the reporting year SWISS was particularly affected by this, as the Swiss franc’s rise against the euro and the US dollar directly reduced income generated in these markets. As part of its targets for consistent, sustainable growth, the company aims for an annual return on sales of between 5 and 8 per cent, to enable it to keep making replacement and growth investments. In 2011 the figure was 6.6 per cent.

High revenue and passenger numbers are expected again for the financial year 2012, although the competitive environment will stay tense. Given the difficult state of the world economy and persistent pressure on average yields, SWISS management is anticipating a challenging financial year ahead. From today’s standpoint it therefore seems unlikely that the previous year’s operating result can be repeated. Faced with these conditions, since early 2012 SWISS has, under an initiative for improving earnings, systematically been developing activities to optimise costs further and generate additional income in all areas. Both operating and structural measures are intended to bolster profitability.

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