SWISS International Airlines recently announced that it made an impressive profit for the first half of the year, arguably beating out other competitors and showing signs of an even more promising year. However, beneath the large numbers and steady growth lies the untold stories of laid-off employees and increasingly unsatisfied customers.
SWISS Airlines was naturally affected by the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, and like most airlines, experienced a substantial dip in revenue. However, since the beginning of the year, the air carrier has successfully flown to 123 destinations and carried over 5.3 million passengers (five times more than that recorded in 2021) and through a combination of internal and external changes, welcomed new and exciting numbers. It made around CHF 1.8 billion ($1.87 billion) in revenue for the first half and an operating profit of CHF 67 million ($70 million).
Remarking on this achievement, SWISS Chief financial officer Markus Binkert stated:
“The combination of substantial pent-up travel demand, higher ticket prices and our improved cost structures has had a very beneficial impact on our liquidity situation over the past few months. This also enabled us to terminate our bank loan facility which had been guaranteed by the Swiss Confederation ahead of time in the course of the second quarter.”
What about all those cancelled flights?
Despite recording great figures so far, it has not been smooth sailing for SWISS airlines this year. In 2021, the company laid off 550 employees as part of ‘structural changes’ and an attempt to repay lingering bank loans. In an almost poetic-justice turn of events, the airline found itself cancelling over 700 flights in 2022 (arguably losing more money and upsetting more customers) citing staff shortages as the main reason.
At the time of this announcement, the airline did not even specify which flights would be cancelled and instead opted to highlight how several trips between August and October would *potentially* be affected. Some customers found that their flights had been cancelled on the day they were supposed to travel. Although refunds were offered to passengers, there have been a growing number of complaints on social media about either the ineffectiveness, slowness or disorganization of the system.
@flyswiss because you are not refunding people what you say you would! 700 in expenses caused by your pilot diverting to ZRH & you offer 98chf in return for being told we have to book our own hotel & own way back! Unacceptable & still no response to emails. Terrible service.
— Justin Brooks (@Jusbrockin) August 4, 2022
The aviation sector is in turmoil and free fall these days. There is chaos on most flights and the airlines have developed from being terrible to being unacceptable. But amongst them, @FlySWISS could be the worst, given my recent experiences. I cannot recommend to fly with them.
— Jens Eisert (@jenseisert) August 6, 2022
Furthermore, there are reports of current crew and pilots feeling over-worked, under-appreciated and under-heard.
Despite these concerns, SWISS airlines CEO Dieter Vranckx is doubling down on the airline’s decisions, stating that the employee cuts were necessary for employing stability and allowing SWISS to invest back into improving the quality of their products and services.
There is a lot of talk about profitability and money- and little, at least in my opinion, about the actual people in the planes.