According to information in the French language newspaper Le Nouvelliste, Swiss will run a series of test flights between Sion, near the mountain resorts of Crans-Montana, Verbier and Zermatt, to London, next February.
Sion, the capital of the Swiss canton of Valais, with a population of around 33,000, lies at the heart of Valais’s wine industry, and around 25 km from Crans-Montana, 50 km from Verbier, and 75 km from Zermatt.
Sion airport is around an hour and a half closer to Crans-Montana and Zermatt and around one hour closer to Verbier, than Geneva airport. The trip from Sion airport to Crans-Montana is around 35 minutes, to Verbier it is about 50 minutes, and to Zermatt about an hour and a half.
“Having a big company like Swiss interested in us gives us visibility and credibility” Sion airport’s director, Aline Bovier-Gantzer, told the news service ATS.
The project is the work of Swiss and the tourism sector together.
The Embraer 190 jet aircraft, capable of carrying around 100 passengers, will be used for the direct flights from London City airport and Sion, every Saturday in February 2017.
The mountainous Swiss canton of Valais is primarily a winter destination. Nearby resorts such as Verbier are highly popular with British tourists.
“It is way too soon to predict the outcome. We will see after February next year how full the flights were and make a decision then” said Swiss International Airlines spokesperson Meike Fuhlrott.
Another airline promised regular winter flights for several years before abandoning it in 2012.