October 2, 2022
Today in Aviation: Edelweiss Air Commences Operations
Today in Aviation

Today in Aviation: Edelweiss Air Commences Operations

DALLAS – Today in Aviation, Swiss leisure airline Edelweiss Air (WK) operated its maiden flight in 1996. The inaugural service departed Zurich (ZRH) bound for Paphos (PFO) via Larnaca (LCA).

The airline was founded on October 19, 1995 by travel group Kuoni Reisen AG and businessman Niklaus Grob. It started life with a single 162-seat McDonnell Douglas MD-83 (HB-IKM). WK soon added two further examples (HB-IKN and HB-IKP).  

Inclusive-tour flights from Switzerland expanded to include the Balearics, Canary Islands, Cyprus, Portugal, and Tunisia. 

In 1997 WK also launched a five-times weekly scheduled service between ZRH and London Luton (LTN). (Photo: Aero Icarus from Zürich, Switzerland, CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Fleet Development

In January 1999, WK received the first of three 172-seat Airbus A320s. It has since added further examples and currently operates ten of the type. 

Long-haul flights commenced on November 21, 2000, following the arrival of a Rolls-Royce Trent-powered, 313-seat Airbus A330-200. WK used the jet to link ZRH with Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Mexico and the Maldives. The -200 was retired from the fleet in December 2016. A larger -300 variant arrived in February 2011. These have since been transferred to Lufthansa’s German leisure subsidiary Eurowings Discover (4Y).

WK also operates the four-engined A340-300. Four of the type joined the fleet from LX and were used to expand its route network. (Photo: Edelweiss Air)

New Owners

In November 2008, the airline was sold by Kuoni to Swiss International Air Lines (LX), part of the Lufthansa Group. As part of Europe’s largest airline conglomerate, WK focuses on tourists rather than business travelers, seeking out routes to “special cities” that LX or LH may not be able to operate viably. 

Featured image: To celebrate Edelweiss’s 20th anniversary in 2015, a revised livery was applied to a newly delivered A320. (Photo: Edelweiss Air)

Writer, aviation fanatic, and Airways European Deputy Editor, Lee is a plant geek and part-time Flight Attendant for a UK-based airline. Based in Liverpool, United Kingdom.

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