A wage agreement between former Crossair pilots and the new national carrier "swiss" has collapsed.
Thomas Häderli, president of the Crossair pilots' association, said on Wednesday that the pilots were taking legal action. Media reports hinted at a possible industrial action.
The crisis comes after the former Swissair pilots' association, Aeropers, agreed on Tuesday to a new collective labour agreement (CLA) with "swiss".
Eighty-three per cent of Aeropers members approved the CLA, which includes "reductions in salary and pension fund obligations of 35 per cent", Aeropers said in a statement. Some 17 per cent voted against the new collective contract.
"swiss", welcomed the result as "another milestone".
Aeropers business manager, Christoph Ulrich, said he was relieved at the result. "Our members realised the seriousness of the situation and came to the conclusion that both they and 'swiss' needed this CLA," he said in a statement.
Crossair pilots' scepticism
"swiss" offered Crossair pilots a 16 per cent salary increase on top of a 28 per cent rise in 2001. However the union remains unhappy about the contract because it still means that Crossair pilots would earn less than their Swissair counterparts.
The union argues that the type of aircraft flown and the seniority principle puts its pilots at a disadvantage. Its pilots are on average younger than their Swissair counterparts, and would be the first affected by any lay-offs.
The Crossair union has challenged the agreement, and is seeking a decision from an arbitrator.
"swiss" extends fleet
Meanwhile, "swiss" has confirmed that it has bought 13 Airbus A340-300s, as part of an upgrade of its fleet. The new aircraft, which will be used for long-haul flights, will replace its Boeing MD-11s.
The new planes will be integrated into the fleet between June 2003 and August 2004 and will carry 228 passengers each. The airline said the A340-300 generates approximately half the approach noise of the current MD-11 and also emits fewer noxious substances.
swissinfo with agencies