Pilots of SWISS & Edelweiss Air to become train drivers?


The flight crew of Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS), the flag carrier of Switzerland, might soon switch from a regular flight deck to the cabin of a train machinist. SWISS and its leisure travel subsidiaryEdelweiss Air are reportedly considering the potential of the particular pilot retraining, as some of Switzerland’s railway companies faced a lack of employees.

Speaking to local media on November 24, 2020, Roman Kalin, a spokesman of Aeropers, a Swiss trade union which represents the interests of 1,300 pilots, said that even though the idea of pilot retraining might come as a surprise, it could become “a win-win situation“ for some pilots while aircraft fleets still remain grounded due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Many things are very similar, such as the fascination with technology, the transport of people and goods from point A to point B, safety, or a sense of responsibility. In our eyes, this is a win-win situation,“ Kalin explained.

Swiss Federal Railways (SBB), the national railway company of the country, as well as Rhaetian Railway (RhB), a transport company that owns the largest network of all private railway operators in Switzerland, currently face a lack of workers while missing around thirty train drivers for passenger and freight traffic every day, reported in a statement. 

The pilot retraining process to learn how to drive a train might reportedly take up to 16 months, but as it is, unemployed pilots would get a job immediately after completing the course. According to SalaryExplorer.com data, the salary of a train driver in Switzerland amounts to approximately €5,550 per month (CHF6,000). 

SWISS and Edelweiss Air have a total of 10,475 employees, showed Lufthansa Group’s financial report of Q2 2020. Back in October 2020, Thomas Kluehr, the Chief Executive of SWISS, warned that the airline planned to cut up to 1,000 jobs within 2022 through voluntary measures rather than layoffs. 


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