Swiss to slash the size of its Airbus fleet

The Swiss flag-carrier will drop five Airbus 330 or 340 jets from its fleet, with ten more jets from regional arm Helvetic.

By David Flynn, June 15 2021
Swiss to slash the size of its Airbus fleet

Swiss Airlines will downsize to meet the post-COVID future, slashing the size of its Airbus fleet by 15 jets across both short-range and long-range international routes.

The flag-carrier says it will reduce its fleet "by 15 per cent from its 2019 size as planned in response to the decline in demand."

That cull will be broken down into five Airbus A330 or A340 jets currently flown by Swiss and a further ten from its regional arm Helvetic Airways, which together represent more than 90 jets.

"Which five Airbus long-haul aircraft (A330s or A340s) and which ten short-haul aircraft will be withdrawn to this end is yet to be decided," the airline confirmed in a statement.

"On the short- and medium-haul fleet front, the reduction in the number of Helvetic Airways aircraft operated on SWISS’s behalf will be proportionately higher than the number of SWISS’s own aircraft withdrawn."

Swiss will also redraw its extensive international network, with the Star Alliance member "considering modifications to its route portfolio, reductions in frequencies and a delayed resumption of services to some long-haul destinations."

"In the future SWISS will be smaller. But it will also be more focused, more digital, more efficient and more sustainable," stated Swiss CEO Dieter Vranckx.

"The transformation planned will be conducted over the next three years through our ‘reach’ strategic programme, with which we aim to realign our company to the changed market situation and achieve sustainable cost savings of some CHF 500 million (US$556 million)."

The airline said that deep "structural changes" to its market, coupled with "a lasting 20% decline in customer demand in the medium term", also required the loss of 550 jobs to right-size the airline for the leaner years ahead.

Swiss expects that come high summer 2021, capacity is likely to be at around 50-55% of 2019 levels, while barely reaching 40% for the whole of 2021.


Also read: Swiss' premium economy guide for 2022


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Avelo in USA have picked up some very cheap B738s. Why couldn't another carrier pick up some very cheap A330s & run a low cost long haul.

Canada 3000, the launch airline for the A332 used to fly YVR/BNE direct (via HNL). They were doing very very well up to 10 Sep 2001.

Some extremely cheap leases can surely be negotiated right now, as 1000s of relatively new aircraft are parked.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 517

It's hardly surprising that SWISS (and for that matter, pretty much any airline, particularly those with a large international market) would have much reduced capacity for the remainder of this year.

It could well be that 2022 is a year of recovery, with a high probability of a global reopening with countries in Asia and Africa, as well as Australia and New Zealand finally opening up their borders, which by then, will have been closed for 2 or more years.

Even so, demand is likely to be soft initially, but by 2023 or 2024 things could very well be back to 2019 levels.

If SWISS can pick up some cheap leases than it is conceivable they could build up their fleet again (if demand dictates) by then.

For the first 2-3 years after Covid, a 15% reduction in capacity makes a lot of sense.

think there is huge pent up demand for international travel in Australia. There seems to be basically 2 types of people, 1) those who want to go yesterday, who can't see any reason why they can't now, if they've had their shots, when Europe is opening to UK & USA in next 4 to 7 weeks & 2) those who believe all the hype in the media, who think they should stay at home forever.

Re aircraft leases - could a situation exists, where airlines hand back aircraft to aircraft owners & then 6 months later lease the same aircraft at 1/2 or less the leasing costs previously ?

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