By Kurt Hofmann, ATW Daily News
Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) phased out its last Avro RJ100 with a special flight from Geneva to Zurich Aug. 15.
SWISS is replacing the Avros with Bombardier CSeries 100/300 aircraft. SWISS currently has eight CS100s and two CS300s in service. By the end of 2018, SWISS will add another 20 CSeries aircraft to its fleet.
The four-engine narrowbody Avro RJ100 and its smaller RJ85 variant formed the backbone of the SWISS European fleet since the company was founded in 2002. SWISS's 21-strong Avro fleet completed over 700,000 flying hours, operating over half-a-million flights with the British Aerospace (BAe) aircraft.
The former SWISS aircraft-which remain in high demand because of their excellent maintenance record despite their age-will be placed into service with other airlines.
"I was very pleasantly surprised when we received requests for this aircraft [from other airlines] and the good sale prospects," SWISS CEO Thomas Klühr told ATW in Zurich.
Klühr said there is still a niche existing for the Avro aircraft in today's aviation industry. "For example, the aircraft is ideal for short runway operations and there is still a strong demand [for the Avro]," he said.
SWISS was the launch operator for the CS100.
Klühr said the CSeries has a 96% dispatch reliability, "which is for a brand-new type a good result." Because of CSeries delivery delays, SWISS has kept the Avro in operation at least two years longer than originally planned.
"The average age of the SWISS fleet is now around eight years. This number will be lowered when more CSeries arrives. Also, two further Boeing 777-300ERs will replace part of the Airbus A340-300 fleet by spring 2018," Klühr said.