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
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
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
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.