A new Swiss airline has acquired two ex-Singapore Airlines (SIA) Airbus A340-300s with the intention of operating long-haul services later this year. Air Switzerland aims to launch regional services next month using three ex-Swisswings Fairchild Dornier 328s.

The airline plans to begin daily services from Berne to Munich and Amsterdam and is mulling an additional European service, either from Geneva or Zurich.

To launch the short-haul operation, which will operate under the Air Switzerland Europe name, it has hired 60 former employees of Swisswings, which went into receivership in April, and acquired Swisswings' air operator's certificate (AOC). The new employees include 14 pilots and 14 cabin crew.

"We plan to start long-haul routes in mid-September or by the beginning of October using the two A340-300s," says the company. Long-haul charters will be operated from Zurich to Bangkok, and possibly Cape Town, Las Vegas and Singapore.

The airline's two ex-SIA A340s are among 17 that have been purchased by Boeing as part of a trade-in deal for 777s with the Singapore carrier.

Although Air Switzerland, which was established in March, has set a 15 July launch date, it was expected to notify the Swiss Federal Office for Civil Aviation of its plans only last week. Applications typically take between 30 and 60 days to be processed. The Swisswings AOC will speed the technical and operational part of the approval procedure for short-haul services, as will the hiring of "key technical and operational staff" from Swisswings.

The company will not identity its investors, saying only that they come from Germany, Switzerland and the USA. The chief executive and founder of the new company is Mario Ritter, who runs a travel company based in Liechtenstein.

The airline is confident that it can be successful in the increasingly crowded European market. "We aim for the business to make an operating profit in three years. For the short-haul operation, we expect this far quicker," it says.

Source: Flight International