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Press says Swiss needs deeper cuts to survive

Editors said the cutbacks amounted to mere cosmetic surgery

The Swiss press has questioned whether cost-cutting measures announced by the national carrier, "Swiss", go far enough.

Editorials said the 300 jobs losses and cutbacks on flight routes were not surprising given the current economic climate, but commentators fear they will not be sufficient to keep the airline going.

The "Neue Zürcher Zeitung" said the measures, which come nine months after the airline took to the skies, exposed the need for more drastic action, particularly if the airline wanted to fulfil its ambitions of breaking even by the end of 2003.

But the paper bemoaned the fact that Swiss was focusing on short-term economic expedients and had evidently lost sight of its original strategy of joining the Oneworld airline alliance.

The mass-market "Blick" honed in on the dilemma facing Swiss's CEO, André Dosé. The paper said Dosé was no doubt aware that the airline needed more than mere cosmetic surgery to stay afloat.

Yet more radical cuts would pit Dosé against the very politicians who fought to raise millions from the government, the cantons and Swiss companies for the creation of the new airline, following last year's collapse of Swissair.

Radical overhaul

The "Berner Zeitung" called for a "radical overhaul", with fewer aircraft, routes and personnel.

"Half-measures will bring nothing... at a time of economic recession and fierce airline competition," it said.

The "Tribune de Genève" was equally sceptical over the airline's "modest" attempt at damage limitation.

Tuesday's measures were "peanuts" compared to Swiss's economic woes, the paper wrote. Management should act in line with unions' expectations by carrying out "severe measures that were at least economically realistic".

The French-language daily, "Le Temps", saw the job cuts as an indication of worse things to come.

It said the airline had finally "come back down to earth" to face the harsh realities of an economic recession and deep rifts between former Crossair and Swissair pilots.

The paper said the two camps were doomed never to be properly integrated.

The press echoed the views expressed by analysts, who said the measures designed to save the airline SFr400 million ($275 million) did not go far enough and would not guarantee the company's future.

"The management at Swiss are not yet rid of the old mindset; they want to retain everything and lose no jobs at all, if possible," Christoph Bohli, an analyst at Bank Sarasin told swissinfo.

"But there must be further cuts - there is no way round it," he added.

swissinfo


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