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Friday, Oct 24, 2014
Business News

2 Edelweiss flights aid travelers, businesses

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TAMPA - Doubling Edelweiss Air flights between Tampa and Zurich from one to two a week beginning March 4 will benefit local travelers and economic development interests with flexible schedule options, aviation officials said Friday.

"It's huge," Tampa International Airport Chief Executive Officer Joe Lopano said. "Now business travelers can leave on Tuesday and return on Friday." The new Tuesday flight on a 332-passenger Airbus A330-300 aircraft and current Friday round trips should enhance local travelers' options for transfering from Zurich to more than 45 European destinations and beyond to the Middle East and Far East, Edelweiss Director Michael Trestl said.

While 75 percent of current round-trip ridership originates in Europe, more local people seeking a strong transfer hub in Europe to other destinations should be drawn to Edelweiss and Zurich, Trestl said.

He said the new flight would continue beyond the May 2014 expiration of $750,000 in local incentives that helped Edelweiss start in Tampa in May 2012 and could be extended beyond current Edelweiss schedules in 2014 to 2015, if demand grows as anticipated.

"People must understand the difference between a subsidy and incentive for new service," Trestl said. "We have been operating with an incentive, not a subsidy."

Once the weekly flight began - it was expanded briefly last summer to a twice-weekly schedule - Edelweiss was surprised to draw plenty of passengers from the Scandinavian countries and from as far off as Dubai, Trestl said.

"We are seeking business and corporate headquarters from global companies," said Rick Homans, CEO and president of the Tampa-Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. "When we add frequency of flights, that helps (our mission)."

tjackovics@tampatrib.com

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