Parliament pays to keep Switzerland’s vital air network open | Instant News

Empty airports and land planes: civil aviation is one of the sectors most affected by the coronavirus crisis

(Keystone / Salvatore di Nolfi)

After losing its national airline, Switzerland is determined not to lose international air connections as well. Parliament has approved a credit of CHF1,875 billion ($ 1.92 billion) to support SWISS and other airlines which ensure vital transportation infrastructure for the Swiss economy.

Since Swissair is convicted in 2001, the civil aviation sector was in foreign hands. Air transportation was mainly provided by the German airline SWISS – founded in 2002 from Swissair ash and sold to Lufthansa three years later – and the British airline easyJet. The airport and technical services are managed by Swissport and SR Technics, whose parent company is HNA China. Catering is provided by Gategroup, controlled by RRJ Group Asia funds.

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Should the government help these foreign companies overcome the crisis triggered by the coronavirus pandemic to maintain an efficient air transportation infrastructure in Switzerland?

“Yes,” the parliament said, in the absence of alternatives – and for the most part. Last week approved the government’s request to loans of CHF1,875 billionexternal link: CHF1,275 billion to guarantee loans to airlines operating in Switzerland and CHF600 million to support airlines at national airports.

Systemic importance

“The aviation sector is very important systemically to Switzerland. The aviation industry generates about 5% of GDP, which is equivalent to the value of the banking sector, “Finance Minister Ueli Maurer pointed out during the debate.

Around 40% of exports and 20% of imports are transported by air. In addition, more than half of foreign tourists fly to Switzerland.

A economy as diverse as Switzerland requires international and intercontinental connections, Maurer stressed, adding that it is not important for SWISS to provide connections, but it is important to have them.

Without SWISS and the network offered by Lufthansa, Switzerland will have four or five connections between continents, whereas today there are 20 to 30, he said.

After the Swissair runway, passenger traffic in Switzerland has fallen sharply, but in the past 15 years, since SWISS was taken over by Lufthansa, the number has practically doubled. In 2019 SWISS carried 19 million passengers to 45 countries. Freight traffic, provided by the Swiss division of WorldCargo, reaches 130 destinations in 80 countries.

flight graphics

Chart of passenger numbers

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(Translated from Italian by Thomas Stephens),

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