The name of Switzerland's new national flag carrier is soon to be released after Crossair's board met Monday to discuss the company's new identity.This content was published on January 15, 2002 - 09:47
After the board meeting, there was no comment on the name of the new company which involves an enlarged Crossair taking over 52 aircraft from its former sister company, Swissair. Swissair collapsed last October after accumulating huge debts.
Most analysts expect the airline's name to involve some combination of the words "Swiss" and "air" possibly: Air Swiss or Swiss Airlines. More fanciful are suggestions that the airline could operate as "Mountain Air" or "Phoenix Air".
Commercial and legal issues make it highly unlikely that the new airline will operate as Swissair. The brand - once a hallmark for quality and punctuality - was seriously devalued by the two-day grounding of the fleet last October. There are also fears that creditors may pounce on the new company if it bore the same name.
It is thought that two advertising agencies are in the running to handle the expensive marketing campaign to launch the new company. Some industry experts have estimated the cost to be around SFr40 million ($24.2 million).
The plan for an enlarged Crossair to take over 26 short-haul and 26 long-haul routes from Swissair at the beginning of April has been boosted by residents in Zurich who backed the canton's SFr300 million investment in the new company in a weekend vote.
Crossair had warned that several long-haul routes would be cancelled if Zurich's voters had voted against the deal causing a further 1,000 job cuts in the area.
Several other cantons, including Lucerne and Schaffhausen, had also indicated that they would only participate if Zurich was on board.
But on Tuesday, Bern became the second canton to refuse to invest in the project. The canton's government said the risks involved were too great and that it could not commit a planned SFr11 million. Canton Solothurn has already decided against investing SFr3 million.
Although the sums are relatively small, it's a blow to the new company's credibility.
Crossair's board and the Swiss government both welcomed the Zurich result. The SFr300 million investment is in addition to SFr2.4 billion already raised by the government, banks and private business.
But many analysts think the plan is over-ambitious and believe the airline will have to slim down in the long-term, causing more job-cuts.
Shares in Crossair jumped initially in reaction to the Zurich vote but ended Monday down 0.5 per cent as investors realised that there was still a long way to go before the project could be deemed a success.
Crossair is also looking for an alliance partner before it takes over inter-continental flights. Lufthansa and American Airlines are both in the frame.
swissinfo with agencies
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