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New Seoul-Zurich route launched after 27 years

By Kim Hae-yeon

Published : May 9, 2024 - 16:02

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(From left) Chief Financial Officer SWISS Markus Binkert, Vice President Brand Experience SWISS Julia Hillenbrand, General Manager Korea SWISS, Leandro Tonidandel and Korea Switzerland Tourism Market Manager Kim Jean, stand on the stage during the press conference commemorating the launch of SWISS' Incheon-Zurich route, held at the Swiss Embassy in Seoul on Thursday. (Swiss International Air Lines) (From left) Chief Financial Officer SWISS Markus Binkert, Vice President Brand Experience SWISS Julia Hillenbrand, General Manager Korea SWISS, Leandro Tonidandel and Korea Switzerland Tourism Market Manager Kim Jean, stand on the stage during the press conference commemorating the launch of SWISS' Incheon-Zurich route, held at the Swiss Embassy in Seoul on Thursday. (Swiss International Air Lines)

Switzerland's flag carrier Swiss International Air Lines inaugurated its direct flight from Zurich to Incheon on Wednesday, marking its entry into the Korean market.

This marks the first time in 27 years that the airline has introduced flights to Korea since the suspension of the Gimpo-Zurich route in 1998.

"The Zurich-Seoul route was a missing piece of our extensive global network," Markus Binkert, chief financial officer of Swiss International Air Lines said during a press conference held at the Embassy of Switzerland in Seoul, on Thursday. "The two countries have a lot in common, from the rich cultural heritage to strong business ties that we have built, especially over the past five years. I envision this initiative as a seedling that will grow into a robust tree symbolizing the bilateral relationship between our two nations."

Previously, flights from Incheon International Airport to Zurich's Kloten Airport were exclusively serviced by Korean Air three times a week. However, the addition of Swiss International Air Lines' three more weekly flights with its 215-seat Airbus A340 aircraft is anticipated to significantly enhance passenger convenience to and from Seoul.

The CFO noted that despite the pandemic-induced management restructuring, Swiss International Air Lines fully rebounded financially, achieving profitability from 2022 onwards.

Last year, it recorded its highest-ever sales performance, boasting a remarkable sales growth rate of some 30.5 percent. The airline also announced plans to recruit an additional 1,000 flight attendants this year, while emphasizing its growing significance in the air cargo handling sector.

Swiss International Air Lines commits to sustainability goals, aiming to halve net carbon emissions by 2030 compared to 2019 levels. This includes a focus on promoting sustainable aviation fuel usage, with the ultimate aim of achieving business and operational carbon neutrality by 2050.

"With sustainability at the forefront of our priorities, we are committed to reducing carbon emissions by introducing eco-friendly flights and encouraging our customers to opt for greener alternatives in the long term," the CFO explained.

Last year marked the 60th anniversary of bilateral relations between South Korea and Switzerland.

Given Korea's status as Switzerland's fourth-largest trading partner in Asia, the direct flight is poised to benefit not only leisure travelers but also business passengers seeking to leverage the strong bilateral ties, according to the airline.

As a subsidiary of the Lufthansa Group and a Star Alliance member, Swiss International Air Lines solidified its commitment to passenger convenience in Korea, through a newly established intermodal transport network with KTX in November of last year. The network enables passengers to seamlessly connect to eight different Korean cities via KTX high-speed trains.