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Government offers support but no cash for Swiss

The road ahead still looks uncertain for Swiss

(Keystone)

The government has outlined a series of measures designed to help the troubled national airline, Swiss.

However, it has ruled out injecting any more cash into the airline following Tuesday’s announcement of 3,000 job cuts and a reduction of the fleet by a third.

The cabinet said that despite the consequences for the people and regions affected, the measures were necessary for the airline’s survival.

“Swiss is not alone,” said the transport minister, Moritz Leuenberger. “The global economic downturn, war in Iraq and Sars have forced other airlines to restructure.”

By exempting Swiss from taxes on fuel for some domestic flights, the government will save the airline about SFr6 million ($4.52 million).

The authorities said they would also foot the bill for repatriating asylum seekers and refugees who entered the country without permission in cases where Swiss was not to blame for their arrival. These special flights are estimated to cost SFr900,000.

However, a decision has not yet been made on whether to offer Swiss an export risk guarantee.

Survival plan

On Tuesday, Swiss announced drastic measures to save SFr1.6 billion and said it would require SFr500 million in additional financing to ensure financial stability during the restructuring.

Around 700 pilots and 850 cabin crew will lose their jobs. Up to 1,500 ground staff are also affected.

The airline is cutting its long-haul fleet from 25 to 18 aircraft, the medium-haul fleet from 24 to 21 and the regional fleet from 59 to 35.

The government’s latest measures are a far cry from April 2002 when the government, cantons and a host of companies invested SFr2.7 billion to get Swiss off the ground.

The airline was created following the merger of Crossair and the remains of Swissair, which collapsed in 2001.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Around 3,000 jobs are going - a third of the company's workforce.
The airline is also cutting 34 aircraft.
Swiss hopes the cuts will lead to savings of SFr1.6 billion.
Swiss posted a net loss of SFr980 million ($727 million) for 2002.
Its net loss in the first quarter was SFr200 million on revenues of SFr1.04 billion.

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