On the 9th of June, Swiss airline Edelweiss Air operated the first service on their new route from Zurich to San Diego, under the flight number WK18. Simeon Lüthi (aka Zuerich Spotter) was invited to the event. All pictures provided in this report are by him.
San Diego is the latest addition to the Swiss offshoot’s route network of 54 destinations, and will operated non-stop, twice weekly by one of the airline’s Airbus A340-300s. After publishing a report in 2014 on possible new destinations Edelweiss could operate to (including San Diego), Simeon requested to attend the event. The carrier was more than happy to oblige.
To celebrate the event, a small party was hosted at Zurich Airport’s Gate D43. After a few minutes of meeting and greeting, the delegation headed down onto the apron to get up close and personal with Airbus A340-313 HB-JMF (MSN 561). An Edelweiss flag covered a surprise just under the cockpit window!
Then came the christening and big reveal! The director of Blatten Belalp tourism and the COO of Edelweiss pulled down the flag to reveal the aircraft’s new name, “Belalp.” The inspiration for the name comes from the small skiing resort of Belalp in the Swiss canton of Valais. Edelweiss name all their aircraft after Swiss locations were the Edelweiss Flower grows, of which Belalp is one.
Cabin crew for the flight then posed with the aircraft, before CEO Bernd Bauer snapped a quick selfie!
After the action on the ground, the group headed back into the terminal, where a live band played hit US songs while a cake with a map of San Diego on it was cut by COO.
Flight crew and passengers then boarded HB-JMF via Gate D39 before pushback and a water canon salute (top) commenced. The aircraft was waved off from one of the airport’s viewing decks, as it taxiied out for departure.
At 14:20 local time, flight WK18, under the callsign EDW18P, got airborne from Zurich’s Runway 16 and set course for Southern California. The flight time was 11 hours and 58 minutes before HB-JMF touched down on Runway 27 at San Diego Airport.