11/21/2012

Swiss and easyJet expand in Geneva

Both Swiss and easyJet have made announcements of reinforcing their services in Geneva. How will that affect us?


The announcement that Swiss would be reinforcing its presence in Geneva was made about a week ago. As I understand it, their intention is to have more representation by personnel native to our french-speaking region: less obvious swiss-german accents. They add to that the possibility of Romande culinary delights, some of which would attract me, others less so. I think that I understood that Swiss will offer new destinations, though not necessarily more aircraft based in Geneva.

One very positive factor is that Swiss are claiming to be more sympathetic to both passengers and people living around the airport. Already it is noticeable that they operate a number of their flights with relatively quiet aircraft. In particular, about half of their late night incoming flights are operated with the relatively quiet Avro RJ-100jets, including the last incoming flight back from Zürich. That being so, it is possible to believe that they may include other aircraft which will still be in the least noisy class when Geneva adopts the new classification in April 2014.

At virtually the same time, easyJet Switzerland will be having another aircraft based in Geneva. The UK arm of the company has increased profits by about 30% in the period up to the end of September, whilst the UK press has noted that it has expanded in both Switzerland and France. There will be one extra aircraft based in Geneva, which will come into operation this week.

The UK press recently speculated on when easyJet might be renewing their aircraft, and what they might upgrade to. There was mention of a rumour that they might be switching from Airbus to Boeing, which would be a big step. How that might affect Switzerland is unclear, given that acquisitions by easyJet Switzerland are currently Airbus aircraft which have been operating from the UK (though that does not mean that the aircraft are old). However, the fact is that all easyJet aircraft will be classed in noise class IV from April 2014, which might or might not have been a factor in the decision of Geneva airport authority to charge class IV aircraft only half the noise fee that will be charged in Zurich next year.

There is, however, a cloud on the horizon of both announcements. Swiss will be outsourcing some human resources away from Zürich, probably to eastern Europe. easyJet will be moving many people, and 8 aircraft away from their base in Madrid, a move somewhat akin to Coca Cola having moved its HQ out of Greece. The expression "rats leaving the sinking ship" comes to mind, though it is surely too harsh. However, both announcements mean some people losing their jobs.

Will people still be taking flights to holiday destinations when jobs become scarcer? Probably not in Spain and Greece (the traffic is in the other direction!), but the easyJet boss, Caroline McCall says that leisure passengers are protecting their holidays despite the economic austerity.

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