*****UPDATE: Swiss has officially announced the move today (March 15), and will brand its BoB service as “SWISS Saveurs.”
It will be launched in the Spring (no specific date yet) on short-haul routes to and from Geneva (except for services to New York and Zurich).
In its publicity blurb Swiss says the new onboard service “means a wider selection of food and beverages.”
But there is no mention that the additional items provided will be an extra cost option. In addition all economy passengers will have to pay for alcoholic beverages and soft drinks (except water) whereas previously they were served free of charge.*****
News is emerging that Swiss has decided to charge for onboard catering (BoB) from the spring.
Initially it will cover only short-haul services operating to and from Geneva.
Regular readers will not be too surprised at this move which had been expected to start last autumn.
Initially it is Eco-Light (or hand baggage only) passengers who will experience the cut-backs.
Right now they enjoy the same inflight snack and free drinks as those paying the regular economy fares.
But from the spring hand baggage only (HBO) passengers will be offered only water and a chocolate.
It is true that regular economy passengers will still be offered water and a snack.
But all drinks (for all economy passengers) will now be a paid-for option. No longer will they be offered free of charge as at present.
One wonders how hard-pressed cabin staff will be able to tell which passengers are travelling on the cheaper HBO tariffs and which are not.
It could be that, to simplify matters, the latter will be allocated specific rows on the flight.
Why is Swiss introducing HBO fares at Geneva and not at its Zurich headquarters ?
Firstly it is because Swiss is losing money at Geneva. Secondly Swiss views Geneva as a test bed for cost-cutting measures.
For example, Geneva is where Swiss introduced HBO tariffs before it later extended them to its Zurich operation. It also introduced (cut-price) one-way fares at Geneva.
Swiss has no option but to cut costs at Geneva if it wishes to remain competitive with Easyjet.
The latter is easily the dominant carrier at Geneva.
Unless Swiss’ Geneva operation can return to profit it is believed that Lufthansa Group will close down Swiss’ operation there and transfer operations to budget subsidiary Eurowings.
According to the report in abouttravel.ch there is a working group within Lufthansa which is currently examining whether or not the BoB concept can be extended to other Lufthansa Group airlines namely Lufthansa mainline, Austrian and the Swiss Zurich operation. Brussels Airlines and Eurowings are already BoB.