Bern-based SkyWork Airlines to serve 18 destinations this summer; London Southend is newest route for airline’s 31-seat Dorner 328s
SkyWork Airlines is a classic niche regional airline. With a fleet of five 31-seat Dornier 328s the airline is the only carrier to be based at Bern Airport which serves the capital of Switzerland. The company can trace its origins back to 1983 when it was a flight training school, but the first scheduled service (to Rotterdam) did not take place until 2009. By 2012 SkyWork was operating to 25 destinations across Europe and was operating a mixed fleet of Dornier 328s and Bombardier Q400s.
Last summer saw a change in the ownership and management of the airline with a consortium of local investors taking over the business. This resulted in cuts to the network, the removal of the Q400s from service and a new CEO Martin Inäbnit, who previously worked at Crossair. The airline’s current aircraft is considered too small while the previously operated 72-seat Q400s are considered too large. As a result the airline is actively looking for turboprop aircraft of around 50 seats as the basis of its future fleet plans, possibly Saab 2000s.
18 destinations this summer spread across eight countries
In 2012 the airline reported carrying 212,000 passengers at a load factor of 55%. This was a 242% increase in passengers over 2011 and a five percentage point improvement in load factor. In 2014 passenger numbers have fallen significantly after the network restructuring indicated by the fact that Bern Airport handled just under 200,000 passengers last year (down from 260,000 in 2013). SkyWork is the dominant carrier at the airport with well over 80% of scheduled seat capacity last year.
This winter the airline operates to just nine destinations but this doubles to 18 in summer. The cities served have remained unchanged since summer 2014, though SkyWork has moved its London services from London City Airport to London Southend Airport at the start of the W14/15 season.
|Country||Destination (maximum weekly frequency in S15)|
|Croatia||Rijeka (2), Split (2), Zadar (1)|
|Germany||Berlin Tegel (7), Cologne Bonn (6), Hamburg (6), Munich (11)|
|Italy||Cagliari (1), Elba (4), Olbia (4)|
|Spain||Barcelona (4), Ibiza (3), Menorca (2), Palma de Mallorca (7)|
|UK||London Southend (12)|
|Source: SkyWork Airlines website timetable for S15.|
Germany is the best served market with 30 weekly departures (out of a total of 89) followed by Spain with 16. Four destinations will be served in each of these countries this summer. Until recently the only direct competition was provided by Helvetic on the Palma de Mallorca route, but it was recently announced that bmi regional would start multiple daily flights from Munich to Bern at the start of the summer 2015 season.
Destinations that have been dropped as a result of the airline’s restructuring include Brindisi, Catania, Djerba, Rome Fiumicino, Naples, Nice and Thessaloniki.
London route moves from City to Southend
At the end of October SkyWork made the decision to move its London service from London City Airport to the less congested London Southend Airport. For the first three months of operation the airline even included a free first-class rail ticket (one-way) to get passengers from the airport’s rail station (less than 100 steps from the terminal) to central London. UK CAA statistics show that in November and December the airline carried around half as many passengers on the London route as it had in the corresponding months in 2013.