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Crossair boss says airline will still be flying in five years

Pieter Bouw, seen here in Zurich, says his main task is to build up public confidence in the new airline Keystone Archive

The new chairman of Crossair, Pieter Bouw, says he is confident the airline will still be flying five years from now.

This content was published on December 9, 2001 - 12:55

In an interview with the Swiss newspaper, "dimanche.ch", Bouw said he would "not have started" if he did not think the airline was commercially viable.

Under a plan hammered out in October between banks, government and industry leaders, Crossair will take over 52 aircraft from the collapsed national carrier, Swissair, and transform itself from a short-haul regional European carrier into Switzerland's new international airline.

Bouw was elected as chairman last Thursday to succeed the outgoing founder and chairman of Crossair, Moritz Suter, at an extraordinary general meeting of the airline's shareholders in Basel.

"I have very good commercial reasons for being optimistic," Bouw told the Sunday paper.

"We will have much lower costs than Swissair: around 20 to 30 per cent lower," he added.

Gain public confidence

But Bouw, the 60-year-old former boss of the Dutch airline, KLM, admitted the main task facing the new Crossair management team was to build up public confidence as quickly as possible.

"If we manage this," he said, "we have every chance of success."

Asked whether a Swiss should have been appointed as chairman of the country's new flag carrier, Bouw said he had "mentioned this during [his] first meeting" with airline executives.

"I was of the opinion that appointing a Swiss would have been the best solution," he said.

"But I was persuaded that the priority was to have an aviation expert...and that the question of nationality was not really an issue," Bouw added.

Different corporate cultures

When questioned earlier in the week about the challenge of bringing the two different corporate cultures of Crossair and Swissair together, Bouw said the issue had to be approached not from the angle of differences, but from what would bring the two closer together.

"What we first have to do is listen to each other and learn each other's best practices. Some things are definitely better at Crossair and others are definitely better at Swissair."

On the question of security in the air and on the ground, Bouw rejected any suggestion that the new airline would compromise safety in a bid to cut costs.

"Security is not a simple question of money," Bouw told "dimanche.ch".

"We will analyse all questions of security and combine the best practice of both airlines. And we will be among the best in the world."

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