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Swiss faces further headache

The court ruling spells further trouble for Swiss

(Keystone)

Switzerland's troubled national carrier, Swiss, has been ordered by a court to immediately reinstate 169 sacked pilots.

The ruling comes as the airline prepares to announce a major restructuring programme designed to turn the airline's fortunes around.

Swiss suffered a first-quarter net loss of SFr200 million ($151 million) and is estimated to be losing more than SFr3 million a day.

Under the court ruling, which will be retroactive to April 1 last year, Swiss must either re-employ the sacked Crossair pilots or make a proportional number of former Swissair pilots redundant.

Future redundancies must also be applied equally to pilots from Crossair and Swissair, which merged to form Swiss.

"Three weeks ago Swiss rejected a [similar] proposal; however, now it'll be law and all redundancies must be made proportionally," said Martin Gutknecht, board member of Swiss Pilots, which represents former Crossair pilots.

Finding a compromise

"We are sure that Swiss will enforce that court ruling and now all three parties - Swiss, Aeropers [Swiss Pilots Union] and the Swiss Pilots - have to sit down together and find a compromise."

Following the ruling, Swiss said in a statement that the decision would have serious consequences for the airline.

It said it would lead to substantial additional costs and take away the possibility of executing the planned fleet reduction.

Earlier this year the airline announced it would axe 700 jobs and cut its fleet by 20 aircraft in a bid to stay airborne.

However, Gutknecht said a new redundancy system would make financial sense for Swiss.

"I think the new scheme would save Swiss some money, even though they'd have to retrain some pilots," he told swissinfo.

Discrimination

David Bieli, president of the Swiss Pilots, said the union had achieved its goal of eliminating the discrimination of former Crossair pilots.

However, Bieli emphasised that the union was not interested in provoking a grounding of Swiss's fleet.

"After all, we're representing the interests of around 900 pilots," he said.

Swiss, which currently employs 1,050 former Crossair and 850 former Swissair pilots, said it would look into the matter and discuss where to go next.

The airline is to hold a press conference on Tuesday to outline the forthcoming restructuring and the consequences of Wednesday's court ruling.

swissinfo with agencies

Swiss

Switzerland's new national airline, Swiss, was launched on April 1, 2002.
It was formed from a merger of the regional carrier, Crossair, and Swissair.
In February the new airline announced it would axe 700 jobs and cut its fleet by 20 aircraft.
The 169 former Crossair pilots lost their jobs in Ferbuary and March this year.
Swiss employs 1,050 ex-Crossair pilots and 850 ex-Swissair pilots

end of infobox


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