Task force lays out plans for direction of new Swiss airline

Crossair will not begin long-haul operations before the end of March next year Keystone

Representatives from the Swiss government, banks, Swissair and the regional airline, Crossair, met on Sunday to hammer out three possible scenarios for a new national carrier to replace Swissair when the airline stops flying at the end of the month.

This content was published on October 15, 2001 - 07:56

Crossair boss, André Dosé, whose airline is supposed to take over part of Swissair's fleet on October 28, said no final decision had been taken by the taskforce.

But at a press conference following the meeting, Dosé said the preferred scenario would be for Crossair to take over 26 short-haul and an equal number of long-haul jets from Swissair.

Dosé said this plan - dubbed "26/26" - would guarantee a continuity of European routes formally operated by Swissair from October 29, on which day the Swissair brand name would cease to exist in Europe.

Under the terms of this plan, 9400 jobs would be lost around the world, including 4100 in Switzerland.

The plan must now be put forward to Crossair's board of management for approval.

Dosé estimated that Crossair would need up to SFr4 billion ($2.4 billion) to make the plan work.

"I believe this plan constitutes the most viable economic solution," Dosé said.

Long-haul flights delayed

Dosé stressed that whatever the final decision concerning the future direction of Crossair, his airline would not be in a position to begin long-haul operations until the end of March next year.

André Auer, director of the Federal Office for Civil Aviation, said it was impossible simply to "transfer licences for long-haul flights from the defunct Swissair to Crossair".

Auer added that a decision on long-haul licences could not be made before the start of the summer schedule in March 2002.

Peter Siegenthaler, director of the taskforce, said the body would report on its discussions to the Swiss cabinet. Ministers are scheduled to meet on Wednesday to decide whether to put public money into the project.

The government is being asked in particular to come up with a transitional credit to allow Swissair's intercontinental flights to continue over the winter period.

Dosé indicated that two other scenarios for the new Crossair have not yet been discarded.

Plan B envisages Crossair taking over only 15 long-haul and 26 short-haul Swissair jets.

"In the short-term, this would result in a price war at Kloten [Zurich Airport] and the transfer of traffic from Switzerland towards other hubs like Paris, Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Milan," Dosé said.

A third, worst-case scenario, Dosé warned, would foresee Crossair taking over no Swissair jets, a decision which would leave 27,000 unemployed around the world.

Dosé said a final decision on which option to take would depend on how much money he could raise from financial backers.

swissinfo with agencies

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