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It just got easier to reach Swiss ski resorts thanks to this lesser-known airport

Sion airport in Switzerland has had a chequered history with UK skiers. While the city is the capital of the Valais region, and its small airport is closer to big name ski resorts such as Zermatt and Verbier than either Geneva or Zurich, it’s not easy to get there from the UK. Past attempts to set up direct flights – notably by Snowjet from Stansted in 2009 – have failed in the long run.

But a new ski-focused airline, PowdAir, is determined to buck that trend. After an online poll to determine the most popular routes to Sion, it is to start winter flights from six UK airports. What’s more, Swiss International Airlines announced at the end of April that after a “highly popular” launch last winter it will again run once-weekly flights from London Heathrow for three weeks in February 2018, covering the half-term holidays.

Arriving at Sion is a dramatic affair entailing a steep descent into a valley surrounded by mountains, comparable to better-known Alpine approaches such as Innsbruck in Austria. Like Innsbruck, Sion is a category C airport – those with the trickiest approaches and landings or take-offs – for which pilots need special training. It is one of four airports used as a base by the Swiss air force, but the military is withdrawing between 2017 and 2020, leading to more interest from commercial airlines. As part of the withdrawal process, the military is investing CHF13 million (£10m) to renovate Sion’s runway and other facilities.

Verbier Ski_Freeride_Verbier_Bas-Combe_YG_(c)VERBIER_St-Bernard-large

PowdAir, which is based in Sion, announced its intention to open up the airport to skiers last year, and its offering is far more ambitious than that of Swiss. While tickets aren’t yet on sale, this week it confirmed flights will start December 14, and has made daily announcements about routes via Facebook.

London Luton will have the most options from the UK (five flights a week), followed by Southampton (four a week) and Bristol (three a week). Manchester, Edinburgh and Southend each have two flights a week. Flights will cost around £140 each way, including ski carriage. Tickets are likely to go on sale in early June – sign up for alerts at powdair.ski.

PowdAir’s head of marketing Zoë Ombler said: “We strongly believe that these airports are best placed to help skiers and snowboarders reach some of the best resorts in the Alps that have been traditionally harder to get to.” It will also fly to Sion from Antwerp in Belgium and Hamburg in Germany.

The first Swiss flight from Heathrow next year is Saturday February 3 and the last return to London on the 24th. Its Classic flights, including 23kg hold baggage and, unusually, free ski carriage on top of that, cost from £139 return. Swiss spokesperson Meike Fuhlrott said that a decision on whether to extend the route in future would not be taken before the second half of 2017.

As well as Zermatt and Verbier, Sion is convenient for transfers to Swiss ski resorts including Saas Fee, Crans-Montana, Leukerbad, Anzère and Val d’Anniviers resorts such as Grimentz and Zinal. It takes around two and a half hours to drive from Geneva to Zermatt and two hours to Verbier. From Sion it’s around 45 minutes to Verbier and an hour to Zermatt. Nendaz and Veysonnaz – both part of the same 4 Vallées ski area as Verbier – and Crans-Montana are the nearest resorts, each a half-hour drive or less.

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POWDAIR spectacular decision to land in SION AIRPORT

Dear People,

POWDAIR spectacular decision to land in SION AIRPORT with regular flights from various UK and European airports should persuade you to reconsider your primary thought of buying a second home in VALAIS, SWITZERLAND.
My theory is that Switzerland has everything to offer for all year round holidays, including 300 days of sunshine, fine home grown wines, organic produce, safety, financial security, along with fresh mountain air, excellent hiking and cycling, and its unbeatable ski slopes make it a top winter snow sport destination.
Certainly for second home owners, a 20 minute drive from Sion Airport to VEYSONNAZ should persuade you to reconsider SWITZERLAND as a potential Alpine destination. Veysonnaz is a top location with direct access by ski lift to Thyon 2000. It is a lively ski village with a friendly atmosphere.
This area is the perfect place to buy a second home, offering 420 km of varied ski runs, and now several New Build projects are underway notably ETOILES DE PISTES set at the base of the VEYSONNAZ ski run, a true ski in ski out project with apartments of differing sizes.
http://swiss-alps-invest.com/en/properties/etoile-des-pistes/ Details for this project will be released in MAY 2017

NENDAZ is a larger family style town with a cosmopolitan atmosphere, equipped with plenty of shops, bars, restaurants, supermarkets, Spa, outdoor swimming pool, bespoke Hotels and many outdoor activities , both summer and winter, which is encouraging global investors to this community with the promise of an International School. The skiing is excellent with links to Verbier and La Tzoumaz.
http://swiss-alps-invest.com/en/properties/nendaz-apartments-ski-in-ski-out/
Le Terrace de Nendaz is another fabulous New Build project situated at the base of the piste, an attractive project, reasonably priced.
Watch NENDAZ rise and become a bespoke family ski resort, its just waiting to happen.

VERBIER, the mecca of the ski world attracts world famous characters and serious skiers, has been voted repeatedly number one top ski resort and is a must for folk who enjoy a stylish apres ski atmosphere. No need for the private jet to land in Sion now POWDAIR is functioning so access to your luxury chalet is soon much easier and less expensive. If you wish to invest in Verbier take a look at our fine selection of chalets for sale, all available to foreign buyers with a taste for luxury.
http://swiss-alps-invest.com/en/properties/chalet-bourbon-verbier-valais/

CRANS MONTANA, easily described as a top luxury ski and summer mountain retreat, famous for two International golf courses, designer shops, fine 5 star Hotels, restaurants, excellent night life, and many other amenities. As glamorous as Verbier but with a different clientele. We have a selection of apartments and chalets either in Town, on the piste or overlooking the golf course.

http://swiss-alps-invest.com/en/properties/chalets-a-antares-crans-montana/

Les Collons
Close to Les Masses and in Val d herens part of Valais . Two smaller ski resorts en route to Thyon 2000 is enjoying a total uplift with many new chalets under construction, despite the Lex Weber restrictions of secondary homes. A very picturesque area, only 20 mins drive from Sion, with the added attraction of having one of the finest restaurants in the area. https://leboissauvage.ch/en/welcome/
Hameau de Neige is our allocated New build project in les Collons, built in an elevated position with awesome views, cosy and comfortable chalets delivered at very reasonable prices, close to the ski lifts, with the added benefit of being available to foreign buyers.
Details for this project will be released in MAY 2017

GRIMENTZ, a beautiful and authentic Swiss Mountain Village oozing with charm is developing rapidly to become another VALAIS ski hot spot. Excellent skiing, with links to Zinal, across the Val d Annivers,
http://swiss-alps-invest.com/en/properties/grimentz-programme-chalets-et-appartements-grimentz/

This project has been built within the regulations of the pretty village atmosphere, each chalet and apartment are individually designed, and built to a very high standard, for the lovers of Grimentz this project will definitely reach your expectations.

The added attraction of having International flights landing only 30 mins drive from most of the resorts apart from Grimentz, Zermatt ,and Saas Fee, which are further away, make VALAIS a very attractive proposition, and, with all this information at hand along with future plans to build a telecabin from Sion Station to Le Piste de L Ours, replacing all the T bars and button lifts, we have plenty to offer you.

We are delighted to welcome you and show all our carefully selected properties in and around Valais.
PLEASE DO NOT HESITATE TO CONTACT US ON
SWISS ALPS INVEST

Claire DEEDMAN
Phone +41 (0)76 342 09 65
Swiss Alps Invest

RUE DES CREUSETS 5

CH 1950 SION

SWISS ALPS INVEST

claire@swiss-alps-invest.com
http://swiss-alps-invest.com

 

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Powdair

Deutsch Version unten

TRAVELNEWS.CH have already suggested several times the latest news, but now it is confirmed.

The British airline POWDAIR has approached various airports in UK , with the aim of providing British ski tourists direct access to Valais Alps Ski Resorts by receiving scheduled flights into SION AIRPORT.

As the media spokesman ROB STEWART confirmed today with Travelnews.ch the green light has been authorised for the start of the POWDAIR flights. Powdair is definitely coming as the project has been very popular with both partners in Valais and potential ski tourists in the UK. The financing is secured. The interest is so great that Powdair has decided to fly with an AIRBUS A319 instead of a FOKKER 100, as the latter seat 124 instead of 100.

From 17th DECEMBER there will be 5 scheduled flights a week, from Thursday through to Tuesday. This information can be found on www.powdair.ski, however Rob Stewart specifies that a revised website will soon be launched, which will also show the latest details that are still outstanding and enable immediate bookings.
In summer months, proposals to fly to portugal is being considered.

After conducting surveys with British skiers, POWDAIR tried to determine which UK airports were the most convenient and geographically suitable for frequent flyers. According to Rob Stewart, flights to and from six airports are now definite. LONDON SOUTHEND, SOUTHAMPTON, BRISTOL and EDINBURGH in the UK, as well as BRUSSELS and AMSTERDAM. As four important regions are already covered in UK, there is a further proposal requested by SION AIRPORT, for either MANCHESTER or LIVERPOOL, as Rob Stewart explains.

In addition, although it is not yet decided, there will be regular flights to PORTUGAL throughout the summer from SION as there is a large Portuguese community in Valais. As Powdair manager NICHOLAS DAVIS told TRAVELNEWS.CH.

It is proposed that during the summer months flights will be destined to the local Swiss holiday travellers, and as yet other destinations have not been decided. In the winter months, the focus is clearly on the ski tourists from UK who want to visit ZERMATT, VERBIER, NENDAZ, VEYSONNAZ, CRANS MONTANA and other ski resorts, without the extended journey of minimum 2 hours travel from GENEVA. It may well be that SION will become a significant Swiss Airport catering for ski enthusiasts throughout the winter season.

Helvetic Airways have been present up till now but it is undecided if they will continue.


Travelnews.ch hat schon mehrfach darüber berichtet (siehe hier sowie hier), doch ganz definitiv war es noch nicht: Die britische Fluggesellschaft Powdair will mit Basis in Sion diverse Flughäfen in Grossbritannien anfliegen, primär mit dem Ziel, britische Skitouristen in die Walliser Alpenresorts zu befördern.

Wie Mediensprecher Rob Stewart heute gegenüber travelnews.ch bestätigt hat, wurde inzwischen das grüne Licht für den Start der Flüge erteilt: «Powdair kommt definitiv, da das Projekt auf sehr grosses Interesse sowohl bei Partnern im Wallis als auch bei potenziellen Kunden in Grossbritannien gestossen ist.» Die Finanzierung stehe. Das Interesse sei sogar so gross, dass man von der ursprünglichen Idee, die Strecken ab Sion mit einer Fokker 100 zu bedienen, inzwischen abgekommen ist und einen grösseren Airbus A319 geleast hat. Diese bieten 124 statt nur 100 Sitze.

Ab dem 17. Dezember wird fünf Mal pro Woche geflogen, und zwar jeweils am Donnerstag, Freitag, Samstag, Sonntag und Montag. Dies lässt sich auch auf der Website www.powdair.ski nachlesen. Stewart präzisiert aber, dass in Kürze eine überarbeitete Website aufgeschaltet wird, worauf auch die letzten noch ausstehenden Details ersichtlich sein werden und auf welcher auch gleich Buchungen getätigt werden können.

Im Sommer dann nach Portugal?

Ausstehend ist noch, wohin genau ab Sion geflogen wird. In Umfragen bei britischen Skifahrern versuchte Powdair zu ermitteln, welche Airports am wichtigsten seien. Laut Stewart sind inzwischen Flüge zu sechs Airports definitiv: Diese führen nach London-Southend, Southampton, Bristol und Edinburgh in Grossbritannien, sowie nach Brüssel und Amsterdam. Da in Grossbrtiannien bereits vier wichtige Regionen abgedeckt seien, sei es wahrscheinlich, dass ein zusätzlich ab Sion angeflogenes Ziel im Nordwesten Englands sein wird, «entweder Manchester oder Liverpool», wie Stewart erklärt.

Zudem wird noch abgeklärt, wohin es im Sommer 2018 gehen soll. Wie bereits von Powdair-Manager Nicholas Davis gegenüber travelnews.ch erklärte, ist es das klare Ziel von Powdair, Sion ganzjährig zu bedienen. Hierbei werde etwa über Flüge nach Portugal nachgedacht, wie Stewart erklärt: «Im Wallis gibt es eine recht grosse Portugiesen-Community, deshalb wird über Portugal nachgedacht; definitiv ist dies aber noch nicht.»

Signifikant ist hierbei, dass bei den Sommerflügen primär auf den «Heimmarkt» Schweiz geschaut wird; in den Wintermonaten liegt der Fokus ganz klar auf den Skitouristen aus Grossbritannien, welche Zermatt, Verbier, Nendaz und weitere Orte besuchen wollen, ohne die mindestens zwei Stunden Anfahrt ab Genf in Kauf nehmen zu müssen. Kann gut sein, dass der Flughafen Sion damit definitiv den Sprung auf die Karte der wichtigen Schweizer Airports schafft. Swiss hat unlängst ja auch, mit Flugzeugen von Helvetic Airways, Sion bedient. Ob diese Flüge wieder bzw. definitiv aufgelegt werden, ist derzeit aber noch unbekannt.

(JCR)

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SWISS-AIR back to Canton Valais after 12 years

After 12 years our company has resume flights between London and Sion, at the heart of Valais Alpine region. It was precisely 15:45 on Saturday 4 February when flight LX2551 landed in Sion, originating from London Heathrow, operated by Helvetic Airways

Due to the important in coming ski traffic identified between UK and Switzerland, SWISS decided to start direct flights to/from Sion during February. This new seasonal route has been particularly appreciated by our UK customers in order to reach the various ski resorts in the heart of Valais (Crans – Montana, Verbier, Zermatt) in a very short time, avoiding long and costly ground transportation from Geneva. They could almost disembark already wearing their ski boots! And for the return flight, reaching Sion Airport even 30 minutes before the departure would be enough to get on the plane on time, ‘’I only got very positive feedback from our customers’’, says Geneva Station Manager Joel Dubuis. It should be added that this was possible due to an efficient and professional handling provided by Sion Airport.

Meanwhile, flights to/from Zürich were also popular – for some passengers a chance for a magic sight – seeing flight over the Alps and for some customers the possibility to connect onto another flight out of Zurich, just after 40 minutes flight from Sion.

All in all, four rotations were planned in February to serve the strong incoming ski traffic from the United Kingdom. This was feasible by the fact that Sion Airport has upgraded its navigational infrastructures with GPS – based approach allowing aircraft to land even in challenging winter weather conditions.

The last previous touchdown of an LX commercial flight in canton Valais can be traced back to March 2005. At that time, the added value of landing at the conveniently located alpine airport was frequently offset by poor visibility or overall unfavorable weather conditions, forcing our flights to divert to Geneva.

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This has change, since the airport is equipped with a more accurate and safer approach based on GPS geolocation system.

Until now, only the Embraer 190 operated by our wet lease partner Helvetic Airways has been cleared by the FOCA (Federal Office of Civil Aviation) for such new approach. Additionally the few pilots assigned to those operations had to go through officially approved simulator training.

It can be noted this was the first ever commercial flight in Switzerland to be operated with this brand new navigational approach system.

Commercial success

image3So as to be capable of having the aircraft positioned in the capital city of Valais, it were decided to make the original Zurich-Sion ferry flight saleable to the public: this was quite a hit amongst aviation enthusiast. These ‘scenic positioning flights’ were booked at more than 90% seat load factor.

Nonetheless the original, main idea had been to attract English ski tourists from the London area over the half-term vacations by flying them closer to Swiss resorts such as Zermatt or Verbier, allowing those passengers to make a gain up to two hours’ journey time in comparison to Geneva. The flights, planned exclusively over the four Saturdays of February, recorded good loads and were booked in the highest booking classes.

The goal of these rotations was twofold; to prove to be operationally feasible and commercially viable. The first estimates are quite encouraging.

Contributors: Anthony Lascaugiraud and Joel Dubuis