In April, “Edelweiss Air” will start a new direct flight connection from Zurich to Tirana. Andreas Meier, the airline’s head of communications, talks to us about the new offer.
By Lars Haefner – the interview was held in summer of 2018 after the announcement of the new flight connection.
Swiss-Albanian Society: Since 2001, this is the first direct flight of a Swiss airline to Albania. Why did Edelweiss Air decide, that this is now the perfect time to add this destination to its route map?
Andreas Meier: Several tour operators, which already showed a potential interest for quite a while, wanted to add this destination now. We followed the development of the market, too, and noticed, that the country is more and more perceived as touristic destination.
SAS: I assume you perceived the Swiss to be now less sceptical towards Albania and the Balkans in general.
Andreas Meier: It’s obvious that Albania isn’t an exotic niche anymore. Soon, this tourism market will attract a growing number of travelers.
SAS: There are still no Albanian beach holiday packages offered in the catalogues of Swiss travel agents. Will the new flight connection have a positive impact on such offerings?
Andreas Meier: Yes! At least one major Swiss travel agency recently sent a delegation to Albania and showed a big interest in adding the destination to their catalogues, provided that there are comfortable direct flights. In addition, tour operators for ethnic travels also told us that they plan to add Tirana as destination.
SAS: Edelweiss Air is part of Lufthansa Group. The Germans with their subsidiaries Austrian Airlines and Lufthansa as well as with the Star Alliance members Adria Airways, Aegean Airlines and Turkish Airlines dominate the Albanian air market to central and South-eastern Europe. Isn’t Edelweiss a competitor to the offerings of its partner airlines?
Andreas Meier: With two weekly connections, our flight schedule is optimized for the local market in Zurich. Thus, our connection perfectly completes the offering of our partners.
SAS: Tirana is a codeshare flight with Swiss. Do you see a potential in the Albanian market with local passengers who use the Zurich hub for transfer flights to other destinations? Or is Edelweiss rather acting as holiday carrier?
Andreas Meier: We are focusing on the local market in Switzerland, but thanks to the codeshare, the connection can also be used by transfer passengers. They have good connections on Mondays when arriving around noon in Zurich, and on Fridays, there are plenty afternoon flights in the schedule with good connections to the evening flight to Tirana.
SAS: Edelweiss is sometimes flying three times a day from Zurich to Prishtina. Do you expect Edelweiss Air to offer year-round connections to Tirana or increase the number of weekly connections?
Andreas Meier: If the connection will perform well, an expansion will be considered.
SAS: We would appreciate that. Thank you for the conversation.