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Swiss clips its wings

The job losses will affect cabin crew, ground personnel and pilots

(Keystone)

Switzerland's national carrier, "Swiss", has announced it is cutting 300 staff and reducing the size of its fleet by eight planes.

In all, 160 positions will be lost among cabin crew and ground personnel with 140 job losses among pilots.

The company is expected to announce at the end of the year the scrapping of some routes as part of a raft of measures designed to save the airline SFr400 million ($275 million).

Swiss aviation expert, Sepp Moser, said although the cuts had been expected, they were not as far-ranging as analysts had feared.

"These cuts are not sufficiently deep and they are not in the right place," Moser told swissinfo. "They should... be mainly in the long-haul sector where this company bleeds and loses money.

"The strategy is wrong because it is based on a dogma... pretending that it is possible to sustain a vast intercontinental network based in Switzerland, and this is simply not true."

Christoph Bohli, an analyst at Bank Sarasin, agreed that the savings announced were not enough to secure the airline's future: "Further cuts are needed, that's unavoidable."

Third-quarter loss

Swiss on Tuesday posted a net loss of SFr135 million for the third quarter of 2002 on total operating revenue of SFr1.38 billion.

The deficit includes special depreciation of SFr60 million on the aircraft fleet and SFr15 million on non-recurring costs associated with the establishment of the company earlier this year.

The result is an improvement on the first-half loss of SFr447 million and Swiss said the figure was also better than projected in its business plan for the year.

But Moser said the fact the company needed to save SFr400 million showed it was not doing as well as it claimed.

"They pretend that they are better than the business plan, but I ask, why then is it possible to save, in an emergency operation, SFr400 million in order to stay with the business plan. If they were keeping to the business plan at this time, they would not have to save so much money."

Recruitment freeze

Swiss announced at the end of last month that it had imposed a recruitment freeze and was reviewing its costs amid warnings that it would miss its targets for 2003.

The airline has pledged to break even in 2003 after a budgeted loss of SFr1.1 billion for 2002.

News that Swiss is reducing the size of its fleet is unlikely to come as a surprise to analysts who have maintained that - at 136 aircraft - it was too large.

Swiss said it hoped to achieve the job losses through natural attrition. At the same time the company said it intended to create around 200 new positions in its Technical Services and IT divisions.

Swiss, which was formed around the regional carrier Crossair after last year's collapse of Swissair, took to the skies in March on the back of SFr2.7 billion in capital from the government, the cantons and a host of Swiss companies.

swissinfo

Swiss

Swiss is cutting 300 jobs.
The airline is reducing its fleet by eight planes.
The cost-cutting programme is designed to save SFr400 million ($275 million).
The company posted a third-quarter loss of SFr135 million.

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