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SWISS airline job cuts less severe than expected

Staff have agreed to more flexible working conditions to reduce redundancies at the airline. Keystone / Martin Ruetschi

Swiss International Air Lines will make fewer pandemic-related job cuts than feared following consultations with staff and trade unions.

On Tuesday, SWISS said the number of intended layoffs has been reduced to 550 from the 780 announced last month. Of the 550 affected jobs, 58 employees have accepted a downgrade from their current positions so that they will remain with the company.

The redundancies will be spread among multiple departments, but no pilots will lose their jobs despite the numbers of other cabin crew being thinned. Pilots have instead agreed to reduced working hours.

SWISS confirmed an earlier statement that the size of its fleet would be reduced by 15%.

The reduction in job cuts was made possible by managers and staff agreeing on alternative measures, such as reduced hours or early retirements.

“I am truly sorry for all our employees who are being served notice,” said SWISS CEO Dieter VranckxExternal link. “And it is with the deepest of regret that we are having to take this radical action in response to the structural changes that our industry is experiencing.”

“We are convinced, though, that this is the right course to take if we are to repay our bank loans, regain our ability to invest and retain our competitive credentials.”

Corona effect

The coronavirus pandemic has played havoc with the airline industry as countries sealed off their borders and imposed quarantine and lockdown restrictions.

The seizing up of passenger travel resulted in SWISS, which is part of the Lufthansa group, reporting a 65.2% drop in revenues on last year to reach CHF 1.85 billion ($2.01 billion).

The outlook for the airline industry remains uncertain as outbreaks of variant Covid strains continues to plague some countries. SWISS was bailed out by the government last year with a CHF2 billion emergency loan.

“In high summer, capacity is likely to be at around 50 to 55% of its 2019 levels. For 2021 as a whole, SWISS expects its total production to be about 40% of that of 2019,” the company stated.

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