Swissair Group's boss, Mario Corti, has revealed how he intends to begin restoring the company to profitability. In a statement on Thursday, he said the company was saddled with debts of SFr7.8 billion ($4.43 billion), and that he was in the process of selling off some SFr3 billion worth of assets.
Placing the blame for Swissair's financial woes clearly on the shoulders of his predecessor, Corti said the company would try to raise as much money as possible from asset sales. He said this would go some way towards shifting the mountain of debt accumulated by its disastrous expansion strategy abroad.
He said Swissair would continue talks to try to extricate itself from its financial commitments to other loss-making carriers, such as Belgium's Sabena, and France's AOM/Air Liberté.
Correspondents said there was little new in what Corti had to say, and that the markets were unlikely to be convinced by his plans. Aside from the asset sales, these include "a fundamental overhaul" of many of the group's management and control systems, as well as more transparency in the publication of accounts and traffic statistics.
Corti reiterated that the group's future strategy would revolve around the core airline businesses of Swissair and Crossair, as well as its Gate Gourmet and Nuance businesses.
He was also upbeat about the group's recent performance, saying that total revenues in the five months to May 31 had risen by 5.2 per cent to SFr6.4 billion, with revenues in core airlines up by 8.9 per cent to SFr 2.9 billion.
He said Swissair had sufficient cash and credit lines to keep it in the air, and that a full overview of its financial situation would be made available on August 30, following an evaluation by the auditing firm, KPMG.