Swiss International Air Lines Ltd.



Well, I'm at Basel's Airport and will attempt to visit the reinvented Swiss International Air Lines. Back in 1996 I was repeatedly brushed-off in my attempt to visit Swissair and maybe that old saying, "what goes around comes around" is true. Having visited many of the world's airlines the visit to Swissair ranked with my visit to Southwest Airlines in the USA as two of the worst receptions received at an airline. You can read about it by going to "Archives 1" and scrolling through "Switzerland Part 2".

Actually, several weeks earlier I was at Zurich Airport. Why? That's where I sent my letter of introduction to CEO Andre Dose. I assumed the new Swiss would still be headquartered there but learn everything's in Basel.

Basel Airport is actually located in France and it's a tri-city airport with Basel, Switzerland, Mulhouse, France and Fribourg, Germany sharing its being. There's a nice straight shot road once you get out of Basel that zips you the four miles to the airport-although I'm surprised with Switzerland's incredible infrastructure that they haven't run a train track out to the airport.

It's starting to rain but I'm lucky, as there's a covered parking area for cyclists near the front doors. Hey! there's even an air hose. The reception area is surprisingly small and there's a line of people backed-up waiting to talk to receptionist Martina Klockler. Jeez, it's like being at an airport check-in counter. Why don't they give Klockler reinforcements? When I get to the front of the line I explain who I am, what I do and ask if she can call up CEO Dose's secretary to find out who ended up with my introductory letter. I take a seat. Actually, there're only four seats. Nearby is a display of 60 flags from around the world. The significance? The diversity and national origins of Swiss International Air Lines employees. There's also a glass display case containing company paraphernalia such as T-shirts, pens, and model planes for sale.

Time starts to pass as I sit in the small reception area. Thirty minutes, forty minutes and finally an hour passes. It's at the one hour mark that Manfred Winkler, Media & Public Relations Officers, greets me and guess what? He's the one who ended up with my letter of introduction mailed a month earlier to CEO Andre Dose at ZURICH's Airport.

Nice guy Winkler answers questions and shows me around the 11-story, very, very long but narrow headquarters building. Part of the building was built in 1990 and the newest section in 2001. It's home base to 1,500 technical personnel and 900 crew. Though located in France, the headquarters building sits on designated Swiss land.

No executive dining rooms here as everyone eats in the cafeteria, smoking is allowed in offices, there's a corporate art collection (limited to local artists) and there's no formal dress code. It's two miles to the nearest freeway and 600 meters to Basel Airport. You want to drive your car to work? Then you pay to park. Any unusual employee perks? The usual airline goodies: free flights on Swiss planes.

CEO Dose occupies a large corner office on the 11th floor with a straight out view of planes landing and taking off. I note the fresh flowers, family pictures, computer, four real plants and, I count 15 model aircraft.