More than a third of SWISS flights take off late, airline admits

More than a third of SWISS flights take off late, airline admits

As SWISS prepares to expand its flight operations in the coming months, a spokesperson has admitted that when it comes to punctuality, the flag carrier airline of Switzerland is still struggling to leave airports on time. While the number of cancellations has been kept to a minimum, just over a third of services in the first six months of 2023 have taken off late.

SWISS prepares for bumper summer season in 2023

According to Watson, SWISS is facing a tough few months, with the school holidays expected to provide a surge in passenger numbers in Zurich and Geneva. On July 14, the day school holidays start in many cantons, the airline is set to welcome 18.000 passengers in a single day, a challenge given that Swiss airports have struggled to handle passenger numbers in recent weeks due to a lack of workers

In all, SWISS said that they expect 20 percent more passengers this summer compared to last year, adding that they want to do everything they can to avoid the delays, cancellations and chaotic scenes seen at airports across Europe in 2022.

As a result, punctuality and stability were cited as the main priorities for the airline, with head of operations Oliver Buchhofer telling Watson that they had hoped that 80 percent of SWISS flights would not be delayed by more than 15 minutes. However, as Buchhofer admits, it has been a difficult promise to keep.

SWISS falls behind punctuality targets 

So far in 2023, only 65 percent of SWISS flights left within 15 minutes of their official departure time. 35 percent of services took off 15 minutes or more after their scheduled departure, while 21 percent left more than 30 minutes late.

Watson claimed that this is the worst punctuality record in the airline's history. However, in one piece of good news, Buchhofer confirmed that only 2 percent of flights have been cancelled so far this year.

The head of operations explained that the reasons for the high delay rate include bottlenecks and exercise-related disruption at European air traffic control, the weather, a lack of workers at the airline and strikes in Switzerland and overseas.

Airlines and airports in Switzerland  launch recruitment drive

To solve the problem, the airline has launched a recruitment campaign designed to try and fill vacant positions and pilot training programmes. 1.000 new cabin crew and 70 new pilots are set to be employed this year, adding to the 800 new jobs and training positions already offered in 2022.

Swissport, one of the main baggage handlers, has also announced the “largest recruitment campaign” in the company's history, according to station manager Marco Bötschi. By the end of 2023, the firm plans to employ 600 more people in an attempt to ease luggage-related disruption.

Thumb image credit: nui7711 /

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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