Travelers from Geneva now have a new option for connecting to the Swiss global flight network. While flights from the western side of the country to Zurich are curtailed trains will fill the gap. The airline added “flight” numbers to as many as 10 daily trains between the cities. Geneva joins Lugano and Basel as cities featuring this codeshare “Airtrain” service option.
Keeping Western Switzerland closely connected with our global Zurich-based flight network is extremely important to us. In extending these Airtrain services to Geneva, we are offering our customers even more choice in planning their travels with SWISS. We’re also responding to a growing demand among our guests for greater combinability of their air and rail travel options.– SWISS CEO Thomas Klühr
Historically Swiss flew the Geneva-Zurich route 7-10 times daily. The current schedule sees it operating only four flights each day. While that is enough to carry the limited number of travelers it can create longer layovers in Zurich or otherwise less convenient itineraries. Augmenting the flights with more frequent train options opens up significantly greater flexibility for travelers.
While the three hour train ride is notably longer than the 50 minute flight schedule it also comes with lower chances of weather or mechanical delays. And for originating passengers the option to start downtown rather than at the airport can save time as well. Plus, on days when Swiss operates even fewer flights between the two cities the Airtrain option can eliminate an overnight connection requirement.
In early September, for example, a trip from Geneva to New York via Zurich can be made by plane or train on Wednesdays and Thursdays, but only with the train connection on Fridays. Putting aside the likely environmental benefits of reduced emissions on the shorter segment, in some cases it is a necessity for Swiss to simply compete with other airlines. Not that many passengers are making these trips right now.
Similar rail/air connections are available from Air France, KLM, Austrian Airlines, and Lufthansa. In the case of Air France part of its most recent government funding support was conditioned on limiting flight sales for markets where high speed rail can replace the operation at roughly comparable travel times. While no authorities are making it a requirement for Swiss, the need to trim less profitable operations while maintaining connectivity makes the multi-modal trip a winning play.
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