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Investors sign on dotted line for new airline

Investors in the new Crossair have pledged their money Keystone

Investors have signed contracts to supply most of the money needed to recapitalise Switzerland's new airline.

The director of the Federal Finance Ministry, Peter Siegenthaler, told a news conference in Bern on Friday that SFr2.2 billion ($1.34 billion) of the needed SFr2.7 billion had been assured.

Some SFr378 million was conditionally accounted for and a further SFr80 million was expected, he added.

That leaves SFr69 million to be found to reach the target figure.

The project is to build the airline around the regional carrier Crossair and the collapsed Swissair. Under the plan, Crossair would take over 26 long-haul and 26 medium-haul aircraft from Swissair.

Crucial minimum amount

Siegenthaler, who represents the government on the steering committee behind the new airline, said that if a crucial minimum figure of SFr2.5 billion were not reached, a re-evaluation of the airline plans would be necessary.

“It has not been set in concrete that the new company will take over 26 medium-haul and 26 long-haul aircraft,” he said.

However, he said he was “very pleased” that cantonal finance directors on Thursday had voted by 21 to 3 to contribute to the capital of the new company.

He commented that if the target figure were reached, the airline would have an equity base of 35 per cent. He said this was an “ambitious goal”, particularly considering that the aviation branch only had an average 26 per cent before the terror attacks in the United States.

Dosé view

Crossair CEO André Dosé, who will head the new airline, said the most important task was to win customers’ confidence.

He also did not rule out changes to the plans for 52 aircraft from Swissair, in addition to the 82 planes currently in the Crossair fleet.

However, he said he was 80 per cent certain the plan to take on the 52 extra planes could work.

Dosé said Crossair made a profit in September. The business plan foresees start-up losses of SFr940 million and revenues by the remaining Swissair of SFr750 million.

He told the news conference that negotiations with American Airlines on Thursday evening had been constructive and aimed to revive the partnership American had with Swissair.

The man nominated as chairman of the new airline, former KLM head Pieter Bouw, told Swiss television on Thursday he also believed the 26/26/82 fleet formula was realistic.

He said that success of the new company depended on support from political and economic circles, but also on market developments.

swissinfo with agencies

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