"Cost control is like brushing your teeth every day," Swiss chief executive Christoph Franz says a colleague at partner Lufthansa once told him. "You have to do it every day even if you don't like doing it."
Franz says cost control is one of the keys for tackling the current challenging environment. But he also stresses aviation is a long-term growth sector and that the carrier must continue to invest in the future and stick to its budgets. This perhaps is not surprising from the chief executive of an airline which has just unveiled its new first class product and which to have first class across all its long-haul flights.
So how does Franz and marketing chief Christoph Beckmann feel about rolling out a new first class product at a time of slumping global premium demand? Here is the piece I wrote for our sister online news service Air Transport Intelligence on it, after unveiling its new product to the media in Zurich:
Swiss upbeat on new first-class cabin despite premium slump
Swiss International Air Lines is determined to stick to its long-term strategy to develop its premium product, despite preparing to launch its new first-class cabin amid slumping global premium demand.
The airline has unveiled its new first-class seat in Zurich, to be rolled out beginning this summer in line with entry into service of the first of nine new Airbus A330-300s. Deliveries continue until 2011.
Swiss chief executive Christoph Franz, declaring the carrier to be in a robust financial position, says: "The company, even in difficult economic times, is prepared to invest in the future and stick to what has been budgeted. Aviation is a growth sector, we have to stick to it.
"The first three aircraft start flying from this summer. The new aircraft enable us to renew our long-haul product, with a new business, new economy and new first class.
"It's our intention that our image is strengthened at this time, that is especially important at a time when premium demand is dropping.
"It's very difficult for the whole industry. But in recent years we have seen a big increase in the premium segment."
He says that while Swiss is affected by the economic situation, its product positioning is "long term".
"Our [new] first class will help keep our market share," he says. "Now that premium demand is declining and competition is strong, we will be able to offer the best product in the market."
Swiss will offer first-class service on all its long-haul flights. It already provides first class on North American routes, but will add it to all its Asian and African destinations.
Chief marketing and strategy officer Christoph Beckmann says this will enable it to offer premium passengers a "consistent" product.
"For us it was a very important decision to offer first-class product on every long-haul flight," he says. "We are convinced that a Swiss airline, especially Swiss International Air Lines, needs a first class. It is sheer necessity."
As for the product itself, you can read more detail here about the "contemporary yet warm" Swiss design approach, but one of the most trumpeted features is an impressive guest seat featuring back and arm rests enabling passengers to dine or work with fellow travellers.
New airline premium products seem to be all the rage in the FlightGlobal blogosphere right now. Click here for Brendan Sobie's blog about United Airlines new business class and click here for the low-down from Runway Girl on Singapore Airlines's new business class.