A Ryanair pilot and a former top manager of Air Berlin are laying the foundation for a new budget airline at EuroAirport Basel. “Swiss Skies” wants to undercut ticket prices on Swiss long-haul flights by 30 percent. The founders are seeking $100 million as initial capital from investors.
Armin Bovensiepen has already seen a few airlines from inside. The manager worked for Lufthansa and Air Berlin flight operations, and most recently as Sales Director of Niki. Together with Ryanair pilot Alvaro Oliveira and two other friends, Bovensiepen is now attacking SWISS.
“Swiss Skies” – a preliminary project name – intends to offer flights to the United States from Swiss airport Basel-Mulhouse in mid-2019. Plans for a “complete network” have already been worked out, Bovensiepen told The Financial Times.
Initially, he would start with a connection to Ohio, because Basel and Cincinnati both have a strong pharmaceutical industry – but no airline is serving their potential demand for non-stop flights. “If someone wants to travel from Cincinnati to Basel, it’s a nightmare,” said Oliveira.
The business plan envisages the rapid development of an Airbus A321LR fleet. As a 190-seater, the compact long-haul Airbus aircraft would also reach destinations in Asia, the Middle East, the Caribbean and Brazil for “Swiss Skies”. In the second year of operation, the airline wants to have 16 A321LRs, in the fourth year already over 38 aircraft.
“Swiss Skies” wants to sell its flights 30 percent cheaper than the competition of legacy airlines and in the third year of operation already be in the black figures.
Headwind could come from the Lufthansa subsidiary SWISS. “We are testing a possible range of destinations for the A321LR“, SWISS CEO Thomas Klühr indicated in 2017 in newspaper “SonntagsBlick” as an entry into the market of thin long-haul routes.
Meanwhile, the Lufthansa Group is also feeling the breath of discount airlines on the long-haul market. Just last week Primera Air announced for 2019 a deployment of Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft in Berlin and Frankfurt for long-haul low-cost flights to North America.