Premium products the main focus for Swiss

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SWISS WorldCargo is investing in premium products, which are performing well while overall demand proves sluggish, head of marketing Alain Guerin tells Air Cargo Week.

Guerin says business has been challenging due to events outside of SWISS’s control, such as falling oil prices and the Swiss franc /euro exchange rate, but he says special products are helping to keep up revenue.

Removing the cap on the Swiss franc caused problems, Guerin comments: “Removing the cap of the Swiss franc has accelerated the trend of transporting cargo on the surface to other European consolidation gateways such as Frankfurt, Munich, Luxembourg, Amsterdam and Paris.”

Switzerland, and Europe in general, can be a challenging place to do business due to the limited size and high cost of infrastructure, and expansion constraints because of regulations such as nighttime flight bans.

He says SWISS is predicting the rest of 2016 will be tough but figures should remain stable and it is improving facilities for products such as pharmaceuticals with certification, and it has also signed an agreement with cold chain container company, va-Q-tec.

Guerin says: “We are investing in improving our specialist product offering, including getting Good Distribution Practice (GDP) and IATA’s Center of Excellence for Independent Validators for Pharmaceutical Handling (CEIV Pharma) at Zurich hub recently, something that is being extended to other stations with the aim of achieving it across the whole network.”

SWISS has also been upgrading its fleet, having started to take delivery of Boeing 777-300ERs and Bombardier C Series aircraft.

The 777s are being used on routes to Asia, South America and the US West Coast and SWISS is the first operator of the C Series.

Describing the Bombardier, Guerin says: “The innovative short- and medium-haul twinjet sets new benchmarks in inflight comfort, operating economics and environmental terms, including a 50 per cent noise reduction which will particularly benefit local airport residents creating 150 new jobs at SWISS).”

So far SWISS has only received three 777s, which are being used on routes to New York, Montreal, Hong Kong and Los Angeles, and they are performing well.

“The new twinjet enables SWISS WorldCargo to offer more capacity (plus 15 per cent) and enhance the environmental performance on its long-haul sectors. Of course, this is a challenge too, because we have to do our utmost to fill the additional space with shipments.”