Direct Zürich flights for city
Swiss carrier Edelweiss offers non-stop service for busines and economy class passengers from Cape Town airlinenews
THE FIRST Swiss airline to fly into Cape Town, Edelweiss Air offers a nonstop service to Zürich at 20h45 on Tuesday and Friday nights, arriving there at the civilised hour of 9.50 next morning. The return flights are by daylight. At present the service is intended to be seasonal since the airline mostly serves the leisure market, bringing tourists from Italy, France and Germany as well as from Switzerland. But this could change if there is sufficient demand from South African passengers bound for the northern hemisphere summer to justify a yearround service, especially as Cape Town seems to be succeeding in extending the tourist season and is attracting delegates to international conferences in the winter months.
Zürich is near enough to the borders of neighbouring countries to attract passengers from them, particularly to and from northern Italy, and Cape Town has a large Italian community who have to take indirect flights to Italy all year round. In addition to flights to other countries in Europe and the UK, Zürich Airport has an adjoining railway station with trains for other European cities.
Edelweiss started life as a charter airline belonging to travel company Kuoni, but was taken over by German airline Lufthansa in 2008 and since then has been converted into a scheduled airline serving medium-haul and long-haul routes. Lufthansa also owns Swiss International Airline, which flies from Johannesburg to Zürich. Swiss serves mostly business travellers and Edelweiss is aimed at the leisure market but also carries some business travellers and is likely to attract some from Cape Town who dislike changing planes in Johannesburg. Its modern Airbus A 330-200 aircraft are configured in two classes. Business class seats have 122cm of legroom and recline by up to 28cm. At this stage they have no lieflat beds but business development manager Michael Trestl told me they will be installed. Economy passengers have 79cm of legroom and their seats recline by 15cm.
Cape Town is only one of several new routes served by the airline. Others include Vancouver and Calgary in Canada, Alicante in Spain – and, from the new year, Tampa in Florida, US.
It’s several years since I was last in Zürich but it is a pleasant stopover well worth a visit, although the exchange rate makes it expensive for South Africans. Switzerland is, of course, not part of the European Union. Zürich’s reputation as a banking centre made me expect a city dominated by office buildings. But, on the contrary, it is an interesting historical town with a strong Germanic flavour and a huge lake used for boating and a ferry you can take to a village at the end. It has quaint inns, restaurants serving Zürich specialities and – although this is not well known – Swiss wines are excellent. The Swiss have been making wine since they were part of the Roman empire – long before the Huguenots existed. Most of it is consumed in Switzerland, not
BRANCHING OUT: Cape Town is one of several new routes served by Swiss carrier Edelweiss.