SWISS is a model of discipline and restraint. The onboard product rarely changes and growth in the boom times both before and after the pandemic era has been carefully measured. Pursuant to that caution, the carrier has confirmed it will replace its aging Airbus A340 fleet with the Airbus A350, though not in a quantity that signifies any plans for expansion.
SWISS A350 Will Replace A340 Fleet
SWISS currently is operating four Airbus A340-300 jets (one is parked). These aircraft average nearly 20 years in age, but SWISS opted to retrofit them rather than retire them prior to the pandemic. But SWISS has hinted about a new generation of aircraft and a new onboard product and we finally have official confirmation that the Airbus A350 has been chosen to replace the A340.
Specifically, SWISS will replace its four A340 jets with five A350 jets, starting in 2025. While SWISS has not revealed the A350 LOPA (seating configuration), it has shared that a new first class and business class product is coming. It has now teased this video:
The Lufthansa Group (Austria, Brussels, Eurowings, Lufthansa, SWISS) order aircraft and allocates them to individual carriers. It was expected that SWISS would receive either Boeing 787-9 or A350-900 aircraft, though the exact number of aircraft was unknown. By limiting the allotment to five, SWISS signals that it does not intend to pursue longhaul growth.
To that end, SWISS CEO Dieter Vranckx stressed the environmental benefit of the two-engine A350 over the four-engine A340, making no mention of capacity:
“Our decision to acquire the Airbus A350-900 is a clear commitment to further enhancing the sustainability of our flight operations. Our new long-haul twinjet will play a substantial part in achieving our ambitious climate goals. And in adding this latest-generation aircraft to our fleet, with all the additional inflight comfort it will provide for our guests, we are also further confirming our position as a premium air carrier.”
For a flag carrier of a country with a population of less than nine million, such restrained growth makes sense (also in the shadow of Swissair).
SWISS has confirmed it will acquire five A350 aircraft in 2025. The small step from a conservative carrier underscores the stability and caution that are hallmarks at SWISS but offers great hope of a new and improved business and first class that will effectively compete on a competitive world stage.