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Tough times ahead for SAirGroup's Moritz Suter

Moritz Suter created one of Europe's most successful regional airlines


The founder of Crossair, Moritz Suter, is likely to have his work cut out when he takes over as head of SAirGroup's airline operations, following the departure of Philippe Bruggisser.

Suter, aged 57 and born in Basel, is to head the SAirDivision, which includes Swissair, Crossair, Sabena, as well as a string of stakes in other European airlines.

It is no secret that, in the past, Suter has had his enemies at Swissair, particularly when he was building Crossair into a successful regional airline.

It is perhaps an irony that Suter used to joke that Crossair would one day take over Swissair. That has not happened, but Suter is now head of Swissair, for whom he used to be a pilot.

Suter is a widely respected figure in the airline business, having built up Crossair in 1979 from a small air taxi operation to a company with a staff of 3,600 and a modern fleet of 80 aircraft.

In December, readers of Britain's "Regional Airline World" nominated him for the magazine's "Lifetime Achievement Award" to honour his individual contribution to the European airline industry over the years.

Last September, Suter was made honorary president of the European Regions Airline Association, which he founded 20 years ago.

Suter is seen in stark contrast to the austere Bruggisser and, as one Swiss newspaper put it, he will in some ways symbolise restructuring with a human face.

However, Suter's critics argue that his management style is too patriarchal and that Crossair has grown too big for him.

In particular, his credibility is considered to have suffered after an acrimonious labour dispute with Crossair cockpit staff over a new collective contract, which lasted for months.

by Robert Brookes


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