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Sabena remains grounded

Sabena passengers face further cancellations Keystone

The Belgian carrier, Sabena, -- which is half owned by Swissair - cancelled most of its European flights for a second consecutive day on Thursday as thousands of workers remained on strike ahead of the release of a restructuring plan expected to involve massive job cuts.

Sabena cancelled around 60 flights on Wednesday as workers demanded immediate discussions of newspaper reports that have leaked details of the restructuring programme. Management intends to discuss its plans with union leaders on Thursday.

Media reports say Sabena will cut 2,000 staff from its 12,000 workforce, scrap two intercontinental and six European routes, reduce its fleet and sell off assets such as catering and hotels.

Swissair has a 49.5 per cent stake in the airline and recently re-negotiated an agreement that would have seen it increase its stake to 85 per cent once a transport agreement with the European Union was ratified.

Swissair’s chairman, Mario Corti, argued that the company’s financial position made such an increase impossible. Swissair itself has embarked on a major business overhaul after posting losses of SFr2.9 billion last year.

After bitter negotiations with the Belgian government, which owns the rest of Sabena, Swissair agreed to contribute to a further investment of SFr645 million. In return, it has been released from its commitment to increase its holding. Belgium has also dropped the threat of legal action.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR