SWISS stresses cabin quality as it braces for tough year
SWISS chalked up pre-tax earnings of £305 million last year – only 6.5 per cent down on the 2007 result despite the oil-price spike and the start of the recession.
In its financial report for 2008 the Basel-headquartered carrier spotlighted its continued drive for cabin service quality and looked forward to the introduction of major improvements when it starts taking delivery of new Airbus A330-300s this spring. These aircraft will feature a new business-class seat incorporating an adjustable air cushion, as well as the airline’s new first-class offering. With a seat designed to set new standards of comfort, the first-class product will be offered throughout the SWISS long-haul fleet.
Last year the airline’s total income from operating activities was £3.17 billion, 7.6 per cent more than in 2007. But the fourth quarter saw the recession beginning to bite, with operating income slipping marginally below the corresponding figure for 2007.
“All in all, 2008 was a good year for SWISS,” said chief executive Christoph Franz. “Our company is profitable, achieved growth well above the market average and was able to continue the success of the last few years. However, the business developments in the last three months of the year have given us a taste of what we can expect in 2009. The 23 per cent industry-wide decline in cargo volumes that we saw in January of this year shows just how severe the crisis is. Our passenger business is also feeling the effects more and more, especially in the business travel segment.”
Describing the measures the airline had taken to cut costs and reduce capacity in the face of falling demand, Franz said: “We want to remain profitable in times of crisis too, to continue to invest in our fleet, our product and our route network. Air transport is still a growth sector in the longer term. Market opportunities will arise again and we aim to take full advantage of them.”