Di­rect Zürich flights for city

Swiss car­rier Edel­weiss of­fers non-stop ser­vice for busines and econ­omy class pas­sen­gers from Cape Town air­line­news

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - TRAVEL 2011 - AU­DREY D’AN­GELO

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.

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