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Mon 1 Jan 2007 04:00 AM

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SWISS looks to new Middle East routes

Swiss International Air Line has its sights set on serving new Middle East destinations.

Swiss International Air Line has its sights set on serving new Middle East destinations. Services to Beirut, Amman and Abu Dhabi are on the hit list, according to the airline’s vice president, intercontinental markets, Marcel H.Biedermann.

“However, our first priority is to fly daily on all long hall routes,” he told ATN in an exclusive interview. “We need to fill these holes before we start flying to new destinations.”

The carrier’s planned expansion also marks its recovery from bankruptancy in 2001. Since then, Swiss has merged with German carrier, Lufthansa, and created an extensive network, which in the GCC, now covers every major city.

Swiss alone flies between Zurich and Cairo, Dubai, Muscat, Jeddah and Riyadh daily, and Libya, four times weekly.

Beirut is more likely to come online before Abu Dhabi, said Biedermann, because Swiss could use the capacity it has available during the evenings.

“We could fly out of Zurich at eight or nine in the evening and be back again in the morning. This would use capacity that would otherwise be on the tarmac,” he explained.

In addition to new Middle East destinations planned, the airline has ambitions to fly to key hubs in China and India, as well as South America, Asia and South Africa.

“They are the first priorities and should be online by summer next year,” said Biedermann. “In terms of ASK, our ratio is currently 45% European, 55% long haul, but the aim is for 60-65% on long haul. We want to grow our intercontinental markets.”

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