In the first quarter of 2003, SWISS carried a total of 2.7 million passengers on its scheduled flights. SWISS continues to be challenged by the sluggish economic environment, the Iraq war and the recent outbreak of SARS, all of which dampen the demand for air travel. The average seat load factor in the traditionally weak first quarter was 67.9%.
On the European network, an overall seat load factor of 49.6% was achieved during the first three months. This figure is slightly below the prior year level of 50.1% and reflects the current unfavourable economical situation and geopolitical uncertainties, which reduce the desire to travel by the clientele. High seat load factors were achieved in Ireland, followed by the former Republic of Yugoslavia, Denmark and Ukraine. The reduced demand in Germany, Albania, Bulgaria and Italy resulted in seat load factors below average. In the meantime, necessary network adjustments have been taken, partially by downgrading of aircraft sizes on routes or by cancelling some frequencies or destinations. These adaptations were announced earlier this year and came into effect with the introduction of the 2003 summer timetable on March 30.
In intercontinental traffic, the seat load factor attained was 77.2%. As SWISS entered into the intercontinental business only in April 2002, no comparison with the prior year is possible. Good seat load factors were achieved, especially in South America, Canada, followed by Thailand, Singapore, Western Africa and India. Due to uncertainty regarding the Iraq war, especially routes to Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Israel have suffered. As regards the Iraq war a continuous monitoring of the routes takes place and network adaptations are implemented in order to maximise revenue and reduce costs (e.g. reduction of Cairo service from 6 to 4 weekly frequencies on a temporary basis).
The same has been initiated in form of a SARS task force that is constantly checking the booking status of the most affected routes (mainly South East Asia) in order to be able to react rapidly. Because of a drop in demand, SWISS is temporarily suspending its Monday Zurich - Tokyo flights (April 14 - May 19, 2003) and the corresponding Tokyo - Zurich return flights on Tuesdays (April 15 - May 20, 2003)
he comprehensive traffic statistics may be found on the Homepage www.swiss.com (in the column ?Our Company” > Ê?Investor Relations” Ê> ?Presentations”). SWISS intends to release the financial results for the first quarter of the business year 2003 on Wednesday, May 28, 2003.