Swiss International Air Lines is set to complete a re-branding exercise. This is meant not only to emphasize its close association with Switzerland and...

Markus Binkert, Swiss International Air Lines’ head of marketing, says all advertising photography of the aircraft in the new campaigns is of extremely high-quality. The airline deliberately chose automotive-industry photographers and film-makers, known for the high-quality photography typically associated with automobile-advertising campaigns, to capture images of its aircraft.

Swiss International Air Lines operates 15 Airbus A340-300s, but expects to replace them in long-haul service by about 2017 with new aircraft. The structure at the lower left of the photograph is part of the wing and leading-edge slats of the Swiss International Air Lines A330-300 in which the photographer was traveling from Zurich Airport to New York JFK. The photograph was taken a moment before the A330 began its take-off run, with the A340 ready to move on to the runway for its departure

Because the country’s national identity – as expressed through its design – “has a Bauhaus feel, very simple, very clean, like Switzerland itself”, according to Binkert, Swiss International Air Lines decided upon a subtle re-design of its already-clean, mainly white aircraft livery.


The small red ‘SWISS’ accompanied by the name of the country in four languages above the windows on the forward fuselage is going, to be replaced by a large red ‘SWISS’ over most of the height of the forward fuselage. The word ‘SWISS’ now is all-capitalized and misses out the dot on the ‘i’ which previously formed part of the logo.

Additionally, while the iconic white cross on a broad band of red on the tailfin stays, the same logo – accompanied by the name of the country in four languages – which is currently displayed on the side of each engine will go, to leave each engine painted all-white. A newly delivered A330-300 (registered HB-JHK) is the first aircraft to bear the new livery and other aircraft will be repainted over time, as each aircraft goes for a major maintenance check.

Swiss International Air Lines has outfitted all of its Airbus A330-300s and A340-300s with new flat-bed business-class seats and cabin interiors

In 2009, Swiss International Air Lines painted an A340 in a special ‘Flower Power’ theme to commemorate the launch of its service to San Francisco. While this was very successful in terms of generating immediate media attention, it may have generated some customer confusion regarding the carrier’s branding, according to Binkert.

“We have to be extremely consistent,” as regards the overall branding message, says Binkert. For the time being, there will be no more special-livery aircraft. He doesn’t rule out the airline ever again painting an aircraft in a special-theme livery, “but we would never again do something that is flower power. It was a good exercise, but in terms of building the new brand it probably sent the wrong signal.”

Premium-class and economy-class cabins in the aircraft also have seen major refurbishment. Economy-class cabins and premium-class cabins have been redone with earth-toned and stone-colored hues, and with natural fabrics, as symbols of Switzerland’s close association with nature.

In the accompanying videos, Paul Estoppey, the carrier’s head of cabin interior development and infotainment, highlights the features of Swiss International Air Lines’ new First Class and Business Class seats.

Although the carrier and its parent Lufthansa have not yet decided if the First Class cabins in the carrier’s 15 A340-300s will be fully refurbished with highly expensive new seats (Swiss International Air Lines intends to replace the aircraft within five years), the aircraft have received new Business Class and Economy Class cabin interiors and seats. All of the airline’s A330-300s are fully fitted with the new First, Business and economy cabins.

Premium-class menus have been revamped, too, to reflect the carrier’s desire to identify itself closely with its native land. Its ‘SWISS Taste of Switzerland’ first- and business-class menus for long-haul flights are created by a series of guest chefs, each of whom is Swiss and heads up one or more restaurants within the country.

The menus are also designed to feature food from different regions of Switzerland. At the time of writing, the guest chef was Jan Leimbach of the five-star-superior Lenkerhof wellness resort in the little Alpine town of Lenk, at the head of the Simmental Valley in the Bernese Oberland. On flights originating from the country, all items such as ice cream, chocolate and cheese are made in Switzerland; and where possible Swiss-made food items are offered on inbound flights too.

As part of its re-branding, Swiss International Air Lines has introduced new 'SWISS Taste of Switzerland' menus in First and Business Class cabins on long-haul flights. The meus are created by top Swiss chefs and each different menu features the tastes and dishes of a particular regionof Switzerland. This is a dish created by Chef Jan Leimbach of the Lenkerfhof resort in Lenk, an Alpine town in the Bernese Oberland

Swiss International Air Lines also has introduced a new premium-class meal service on short- and medium-haul flights. Called ‘SWISS Traditions”, the service features menus – again designed by Swiss chefs – that commemorate traditional Swiss festivals, such as Basel’s Fasnacht in February, Zurich’s Sechseläuten in April and the National Yodeling Festival in June. Each menu comes with an explanatory leaflet telling passengers more about the festival being celebrated.

Like its aircraft interiors, Swiss International Air Lines’ Senator first-class lounges and Business Class lounges are decorated in natural materials and tones closely associated with Switzerland, says Dr. Frank Maier, the carrier’s head of product & services. One entire wall of each of the airline’s lounges is made from rough blocks of Jura limestone and the floors of each lounge are made from a special slow-smoked oak wood, the smoking of the wood performed using an ancient technique unique to Switzerland.

Similarly, notes Maier, each Swiss International Air Lines lounge exclusively features furniture and fittings designed in Switzerland. All clocks in the lounges are made by Omega and all chairs by Vitra. Even the lamps, lights and light-bulbs are of Swiss design.

However, one color that passengers won’t find in Swiss International Air Lines’ lounges is red, even though the color features prominently on its aircraft. Maier says red looks either cheap or erotic when used extensively in decorating a large area such as a premium-class lounge. Furniture and fittings in the carrier’s lounges is always of muted color.

Overall, says Maier, the biggest difference between Swiss International Air Lines’ new branding, compared with that of predecessor Swissair, is that the carrier is “now representing contemporary Switzerland – Swissair was reflecting clichés. [The branding] is now reflecting a model of how Switzerland wants to be seen and it is timeless.”

From that point of view, says Maier, Swissair’s bankruptcy in 2002 “helped, in providing a green field” for Swiss International Air Lines to establish a completely new brand. The success of the new carrier’s efforts can probably be judged from the fact that Swiss International Air Lines is now carrying at least 15.3 million passengers a year – more than Swissair ever did. “We are bigger than Swissair has ever been,” smiles Hätty.

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