SkyWork Airlines’ London City-Bern service has become the star performer in the Swiss regional carrier’s route network after a successful 12 months. Over 11,160 passengers have flown the route in the first year and a further 13,745 are booked to fly on future departures aboard SkyWork’s business turboprops.
Tomislav Lang, CEO, who is in London this week and will this evening mark SkyWork’s first anniversary on the now double-daily route with a reception at the Swiss Embassy for 100-plus guests, confirms that the route is becoming a dedicated Bombardier Q400 service. Furthermore, now the airline has built up a loyal customer base, it is ready to explore collaborative agreements with other operators to enable Swiss-originating passengers to connect with other London City based carriers to take them beyond London.
At Bern too, where SkyWork has a strengthened network of 25 routes, and a 90% market share, it plans to create a mini hub. “We are proud to say that we can offer the quickest connections in the world through Bern Airport,” highlights Tomislav Lang – with minimum connections of 20 minutes – owing to the airport’s compact size, fast check-in and speedy security checks. Possible connecting routes could be Hamburg-Bern-Barcelona.”
Conveniently located for the Swiss Alps, Bern Airport is fast being recognised as an efficient airport providing short transfer times to some of Switzerland’s finest ski resorts, including Interlaken, Adelboden, Grindelwald, Chateau-d’Oex, Kandersteg, Lenk, Murren and Wengen.
Traffic bolstered from 400 passengers to 4,300 a week – and still growing.
Network-wide SkyWork Airlines continues to go from strength to strength. One year ago it was carrying just 400 passengers a week. Today it is surpassing 4,300 weekly, having seen its traffic volumes increase 85% out of Bern. During 2011 the company carried a total of 70,000 passengers.
In line with its expansion it has recruited more personnel and pilots too – up to a total of 177. The fleet now comprises seven aircraft – three Bombardier Q400s and four Dornier 328 turboprops. The next goal, says Tomislav, is to take the fleet up to 10 aircraft. SkyWork has the full support of its investors and enjoys a close relationship with Bern Airport. “This is so important,” says Tomislav Lang, acknowledging that running an airline in Switzerland is a very expensive environment. “We are pleased to say, however, we are well on the way to break even. Strong support from the travel trade in Switzerland and the UK, including the leading business travel management companies and the close collaboration we enjoy with the Tourist Boards has helped enormously.” This has been backed up by a considerable marketing spend of 1.5 million CHF.
SkyWork Airlines has also introduced some fun back into flying, such as its innovative ‘Race to the Top of the Jungfrau’ in October, where members of the British Swiss Chamber eagerly participated travelling over six routes from the UK to Switzerland.
SkyWork Airlines has continued to evolve its offering too with a newly revamped website www.flyskywork.com. Its flights are now available for booking on the major CRS Galileo and Amadeus following the selection of the Mercator reservations system Avantik which optimises processes for both travel agencies and the end user. Early this year SkyWork introduced a new fare structure to better meet the needs of the individual traveller. Passengers now have the option of four different classes of booking on a range of tariffs: SkySaver; SkySurfer; SkyWorker and SkyExecutive each offering enhanced flexibility on optional extras including baggage allowances, catering requirements, on-board iPads, lounge access, earphones and ticket flexibility.
And this week it launches its innovative Hotel and Airport Transfers programme, giving passengers the choice of booking a wide range of three, four or five star premier hotels at 11 different locations throughout the Bernese Oberland.
SkyWork was founded in 1983 and is one of the oldest airlines in Switzerland. Initially specialising in ad-hoc, business and charter flights, SkyWork now operates direct flights from Bern to 11 European destinations, including the UK’s London City Airport. The fleet, which began with a single Cessna 340, has expanded to four Dornier 328 and three 72-eat Dash 8 Q400s. SkyWork currently has a workforce of 177 employees. This summer the airline’s network will embrace a total of 25 scheduled routes from Bern.
SkyWork Airlines became the first regional airline to offer its passengers Apple Ipad entertainment since 2011. The tablet devices come preloaded with a selection of travel guides, video podcasts, music, video clips, flight schedules, games and magazines available in German, English, French and Spanish so passengers can enjoy a range of entertainment to suit all ages and tastes. In February this year SkyWork received the top award for its Apple iPad in the Best In-flight Amenity (short-haul category) at the 2012 TravelPlus Awards.
Your Personal Way to Fly is SkyWork Airlines’ claim – a philosophy it implements in every aspect of its operations – on the ground and in the air.
Alison Chambers/Liz Danner
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