Airline adding 2 flights a week between Switzerland, Las Vegas

Courtesy Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

Valarie Segarra, senior director of industry relations for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, and Karl Kistler, CEO of Edelweiss Air, hold a model of one of the airline’s jets at today’s announcement that Edelweiss will offer nonstop flights between Zurich, Switzerland, and Las Vegas in May.

A small subsidiary of the world’s fourth largest airline will add two nonstop round trips a week between Zurich, Switzerland, and Las Vegas next year, the company announced today.

Edelweiss Air will become the 16th international air carrier serving McCarran International Airport when it begins service on May 5. Representatives of the airline made the announcement in Switzerland today.

Edelweiss is considered a charter airline but will operate scheduled flights. It is a leisure travel-centered carrier owned by Swiss International Air Lines, a subsidiary of Germany’s largest airline, Lufthansa.

“We warmly welcome Edelweiss to our lineup of airline partners at McCarran,” Clark County Aviation Director Rosemary Vassiliadis said. “Daily passenger counts from Europe increased by 22 percent from 2009 through 2012, and with Edelweiss’ proven success in leisure markets, we believe it’s a perfect fit to bring even more European visitors to Las Vegas.”

Edelweiss will operate 285-passenger twin-engine Airbus A330 jets on the route with flights scheduled Fridays and Mondays. The airline is expecting to take delivery of bigger A330s by June that will offer lie-flat beds in business class.

Flights will leave Zurich at 10 a.m., arriving at McCarran at about 1 p.m. The return flights leave Las Vegas at 2:40 p.m., arriving at Zurich Airport in Kloten, Switzerland, at 10:45 a.m. the next day. The flight time is about 11 hours.

The Friday-Monday arrival schedule is perfect for McCarran, which sees a large volume of international traffic on Thursdays and Sundays.

Edelweiss joins a collection of small air carriers offering nonstop routes to Las Vegas from Europe. Other airlines with similar low-frequency intercontinental operations from Europe are Arkefly from Amsterdam; XL Airways France from Paris; Condor from Frankfurt, Germany; and Thomas Cook from Manchester, England.

Las Vegas is the second U.S. destination for Edelweiss, which earlier announced routes to Tampa, Fla., beginning in March. Las Vegas will be the airline’s 52nd destination.

Local tourism officials say Edelweiss has a high-income clientele.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority is working to attract more international flights because passengers generally stay longer and spend more money than their domestic counterparts. The Edelweiss flights are expected to generate $19.6 million in nongaming revenue annually for Southern Nevada.

Edelweiss is named for Switzerland’s unofficial national flower. A floral design is painted on the airline’s six jets.

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