An increasingly bitter dispute between management of the new national airline Swiss and former Crossair pilots is threatening the carrier's future.
In its latest statement, the Swiss board of directors condemned the behaviour of Swiss Pilots Association president, David Bieli, as "offensive and irresponsible".
The criticism follows Bieli's description on Monday of the company's business plan as "irrelevant".
The board said it was dismayed by Bieli's remarks. It said he had called into question the future of the company and about 10,000 jobs, and that his comments could endanger regional operations.
Meanwhile, the Swiss Pilots Association has pulled out of negotiations which were scheduled for Tuesday saying it wanted more time for reflection.
The union says Swiss is not treating former Crossair pilots the same as pilots from the now defunct international carrier, Swissair.
Last month, the union of former Swissair pilots voted in favour of a new Collective Labour Agreement, which will cut their pay and pension benefits.
Although the Crossair pilots have been offered a 16 per cent salary increase on top of the 28 per cent rise in 2001, the union is unhappy about the contract because it still means that Crossair pilots would earn less than their Swissair counterparts.
The Swiss government and cantons, private industry and the banks have invested about SFr2.2 billion in the new airline.
A spokesman from the finance ministry said it would be incomprehensible if the union put its own interest above the common good and threatened the airline's success.
Swiss carried 3.25 million passengers in the last quarter.
In a separate development, the head of Swiss, André Dosé, has put together a task force to investigate the technical problems, which have caused the airline to cancel 240 flights over the past month.
The experts from Saab, Embraer and Avro - three companies which have supplied Swiss and the former Crossair with planes or parts in the past - are expected to announce their findings within a week.
Swiss runs a total of 700 flights per day to destinations all over the world. The recent cancellations represent 0.15 per cent of all its flights
Additionally, Swiss announced last week that it was suffering from a shortage of cabin crew.
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