The board of Swiss International Air Lines has approved the transfer of its regional services to a separate operation, to be called Swiss European Air Lines. The move follows the European Commission’s clearance of Lufthansa’s takeover of Swiss in July. The two airlines are expected to be completely merged by late 2006.

Swiss says it will transfer its European regional services to the new fully owned company before the end of the year, after receiving an operating permit from the Swiss government. Swiss European Air Lines will function separately from its parent carrier, but will operate all of its flights on its behalf under a wet-lease agreement.

Lufthansa has said it will not bring the Swiss regional operation into its own five-strong Lufthansa Regional group and expects Swiss European “to show it can be successful in the market”.

In May 2003 the company announced the creation of Swiss Express to compete with low-cost carriers. The move fell foul of pilots, however, many of whom came from former regional airline Crossair.

Source: Flight International