Swiss fights back against Easyjet

27 Feb 2014 by GrahamSmith

Swiss’ decision to focus on its Geneva operations in an attempt to reclaim the market share from Easyjet is proving successful, according to the airline.

And the carrier claims that its 7.8 per cent passenger growth in the year to January 2014 can be attributed to this strategy.

In September 2013, the airline launched its Geneva Economy Light fare, a cheaper, hand baggage only option on flights to and from Geneva, and the Geneva Economy Flexi fare, for those wanting to travel with checked luggage or to have the option of cancelling their travel (see news, July 2013).

Felix Rodel, Swiss’ country manager for the UK and Ireland, told Business Traveller: “Six months in, our Geneva operation works and is showing results. This is very positive, because it was a bit of a risk to take.

“It gives us the confidence that this is the right track to take for Geneva, and maybe for a wider European network in the future.”

Lorenzo Stoll, the airline’s head of western Switzerland, added: “Rolling the fares out across our European network is an option we are considering, but then it would become ‘Swiss Light’ and ‘Swiss Flex’. And there’s no firm plan or date for this yet.”

Swiss has been facing stiff competition for the Geneva market share from Easyjet for some time, particularly for ski tourism, due to the low-cost carrier’s strong connections across the UK and its competitive fares.

However, Swiss decided not to charge a fee for an item of checked-in winter sports equipment in its Geneva Flexi fare – which Easyjet imposes a £60 fee for – and this may have levelled the playing field a little.

Stoll said: “A lot of that growth comes from ski passengers. By adjusting our destination portfolio, we have been able to grab more of that market share than the previous year.”

Swiss introduced a thrice-weekly seasonal service from London Gatwick to Geneva in December. The route will end for the year on March 30, returning later this year for the winter season.

Rodel said: “We may add other destinations within the UK for the 2014 to 2015 winter season, though Gatwick will still be our main focus. One destination that comes to my mind is Manchester.”

In other news, Swiss will be revamping its website in the near future.

Rodel said: “We’re overhauling our web page at the end of March to give a more appealing look and feel, and a booking experience that is easier to understand.”

Rose Dykins

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