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Crossair boss looking to minimise job cuts

Crossair CEO André Dosé is still considering his options Keystone

The chief executive of Switzerland's regional carrier, Crossair, says he wants his company to take over 52 medium and long-haul aircraft from ailing Swissair on October 28. André Dosé said this would be his preferred option despite its high cost of up to SFr4 billion ($2.4 billion).

Dosé, speaking after a meeting of the Swiss government’s task force on Swissair on Sunday, said this plan would guarantee a continuity of European routes operated by the national airline after the end of the month.

The scenario would involve cutting 14 per cent of Swissair Group’s workforce, or approximately 9,400 people in Switzerland and abroad. Two other plans with a lower global cost would require job cuts of between 20 and 40 per cent of the workforce. Unions have estimated that job losses could be far higher than those outlined in the company’s scenario.

The favoured scenario could require an investment of up to SFr4 billion, including SFr2.2 billion in fresh capital, another billion to keep long-haul flights going over the winter period and SFr650 million to compensate for job losses.

Changes in early spring

Dosé stressed that whatever the final decision concerning the future direction of Crossair, his airline would not be in a position to begin long-haul operations until the end of March next year.

André Auer, director of the Federal Office for Civil Aviation, said it was impossible simply to “transfer licences for long-haul flights from the defunct Swissair to Crossair”.

Auer added that a decision on long-haul licences could not be made before the start of the summer schedule in March 2002.

Peter Siegenthaler, director of the taskforce, said the body would report on its discussions to the Swiss cabinet. Ministers are scheduled to meet on Wednesday to decide whether to put public money into the project.

Bridge loan

The government is being asked in particular to come up with a transitional credit to allow Swissair’s intercontinental flights to continue over the winter period.

Dosé indicated that the two other scenarios for the new Crossair have not yet been discarded.

One alternate scenario envisages Crossair taking over only 15 long-haul and 26 medium-haul Swissair jets.

“In the short-term, this would result in a price war at Kloten [Zurich Airport] and the transfer of traffic from Switzerland towards other hubs like Paris, Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Milan,” Dosé said.

A third, worst-case scenario, Dosé warned, would foresee Crossair taking over no Swissair jets. The regional carrier’s chief executive said a final decision on which option to take would depend on how much money he could raise from financial backers.

swissinfo with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR