Helvetic Airways tells staff to avoid speaking Swiss German

Helvetic Airways tells staff to avoid speaking Swiss German

Helvetic Airways has instructed its workers to refrain from speaking Swiss German during working hours. The airline explained that the rule is a courtesy to colleagues who are unfamiliar with Swiss German words and phrases.

Helvetic Airways encourages workers to switch to High German

In an internal bulletin, released by 20 Minuten, the sister airline of SWISS said that "out of courtesy to the other crew members who have trouble with the Swiss German language, [please] refrain from speaking only Swiss German during duty hours." The international company explained that the move is designed to help colleagues working at Swiss airports who do not understand the different accents and phrases spoken in the 19 cantons that speak Dialekt.

According to the newspaper, the move has not gone down well with employees who speak Swiss German, with one member of staff noting that they “find such a regulation completely pointless, just because some crew members are not Swiss." "It doesn't matter to anyone. We are a Swiss airline - I don't see why we shouldn't speak our language…Our values ​​will be lost - we have a Swiss cross on the tail fin. It’s moronic," noted another.

Swiss company wants to accommodate non-Dialekt speakers

In response, Helvetic Airways spokesperson Simon Benz told 20 Minuten that their "employees treat each other very much like family - there is no question that you adapt if a colleague does not speak Swiss German." He noted that the reason why Dialekt is not allowed in the Federal Parliament in Bern is also the main reason at the airline: not even Swiss citizens from Ticino or the Romande fully understand the language.

Benz added that the rule can be beneficial to new employees; since 2022, Helvetic has been employing Ukrainian refugees on S-residence permits - many of whom have only started to learn German. He added that “the [Ukrainian] employees are highly motivated, do an excellent job and are valuable members of the Helvetic family - even though they 'only' speak standard German."

In concluding his statement, Benz argued that to many in the company, the scandal amounts to a storm in a teacup, adding that the new guideline is “neither a ban nor instruction.” He noted that technically speaking, learning and speaking English  - the official language of aviation - should be required and that while employees are welcome to speak Züri or Baseldytsch, it shouldn’t be the only language they use to address colleagues.

Thumb image credit: / Geogif

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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