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Swissair debacle affects Swiss image abroad

As Swissair jets stood idle at home, Switzerland's image was suffering abroad Keystone Archive

The demise of Switzerland's national carrier, Swissair, has shaken confidence in the country as a place to do business in, according to the president of the Swiss Office for Trade Expansion (OSEC), Balz Hösly.

In an interview with the Swiss newspaper, “TagesAnzeiger”, Hösly said it was above all “the suspension of Swissair flights which has done damage to Switzerland’s image overseas”.

Hösly, who heads Osec Business Network Switzerland, which is charged with providing trade services to companies worldwide interested in doing business with Switzerland, said the principle of discretion in the Swiss banking sector had suffered as a result of the crisis at the airline.

Switzerland’s two largest banks, UBS and Credit Suisse, have been criticised for failing to do enough to prevent the temporary grounding of Swissair jets for 48 hours last week.

An SFr1.4 billion rescue plan now in place is supposed to see the regional carrier Crossair take over many of Swissair’s routes at the end of October.

“‘Swiss Banking’ has a lot to do with trust and discretion,” Hösly said.

“But now an enormous amount of that trust has been lost. The concept of discretion was dealt a severe blow by the brutal grounding of the Swissair fleet,” he added.

“And I emphasise that this is not just my personal opinion, but is what I have heard being said abroad.”

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR