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The new Swiss destination, a great city

The new Swiss destination, a great city

It was already possible to fly directly to Canada with a Swiss airline: with Swiss to Montreal and with Edelweiss to Vancouver and Calgary. Since Friday, May 10, 2024, Toronto has now been added to the Swiss flight schedule. There will be five non-stop flights a week from Zurich to Toronto Pearson Airport. Travelnews was invited on board for the almost nine-hour inaugural flight and spoke to some of the protagonists.

Heike Birlenbach, Chief Commercial Officer at Swiss, knows Canada well, having once spent an exchange year in Canada and later studied in Montreal: “Let yourself be surprised, Toronto is a wonderful city with many ethnicities. The city has a lot to offer, culturally, culinarily and also economically. North America is a very important market for us, with ten destinations that we now fly to. Toronto ideally complements our route network.” The Swiss Head of Commerce also expects many Canadian passengers to fly to Zurich as a transfer or final destination.

Impressive skyline

A small delegation of around a dozen people attended the first flight, along with a few journalists, a Swiss social media crew, the Swiss cargo manager and the vice president of Switzerland Tourism. After a short stop at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel, they went on a boat tour to Toronto Island with a view of the impressive skyline and in the evening to the Design Exchange event location for a press cocktail and gala dinner together with Canadian travel professionals, local journalists and the entire Swiss Cabin Crew – Switzerland’s ambassador to Canada, Olaf Kjelsen, gave the opening speech.

Corinne Genoud, Member of the Executive Board of Switzerland Tourism and Head of Market West, is delighted about the additional capacity from Canada to Switzerland: “The Canadian market is doing well, we have seen steady growth over the last three years and the growth trend is continuing.” According to Corinne Genoud, Canadian guests spend a relatively high amount in Switzerland, 290 francs a day, and also appreciate trips on the Panorama train. “Canadians are interested in Europe and travel a lot. Switzerland is an ideal starting point.”

Lorenzo Stoll, Head of Cargo at Swiss WorldCargo, also talks about the great potential of Canada and Toronto in particular: “We transport pharmaceutical products from Canada to Switzerland, some of which are refrigerated. There are also a lot of automotive industry parts that are manufactured in Ontario. We also transport perishables, i.e. food such as salmon or lobster, and ensure the cold chain.” In addition, valuables such as gold and diamonds are also transported to Switzerland.

Overall, Swiss WorldCargo handles 80 percent of its transit business, via Zurich to other destinations. In particular, Swiss flies luxury fashion from Italy and France to Canada via Zurich, as well as watches and food from Zurich, “today we had cheese on the flight,” says Lorenzo Stoll. Previously, Swiss had to transport goods to and from Toronto via Montreal by truck, but now it does so directly.

Great tourist attraction

While Swiss, Swiss WorldCargo and Switzerland Tourism see great potential in Toronto, travelers to Toronto can also expect many attractive options. Of course, Toronto is not a cheap destination, as the 48-hour stay shows, but the Canadian metropolis can easily keep up with Swiss prices – the exquisite lamb burger and a large beer in the Mill Street Brewpub in the Distillery District (make sure you go there!) cost the equivalent of 27 francs.

What I really like about my visit is that the people here are very friendly and helpful. You can hear snippets of languages from all over the world on the streets, and the culinary variety, whether Indian, Korean or Italian, is immense and the quality – at least the three restaurant stops – is impressive.

Visitors to Toronto should also not miss out on a boat trip to the Toronto Islands, passing hundreds of breeding Canada geese and enjoying the view of Toronto’s skyline and the 553-metre-high CN Tower, among countless other must-sees.