Mixed reactions to Swiss's latest restructuring

The decision by Swiss to shed jobs and cut capacity has been welcomed by industry pundits, but has created uproar among Switzerland's political parties and unions.

This content was published on June 25, 2003 - 18:15

The main union for ground staff at Swiss said it was "outraged" by the cost-cutting measures and had organised a day of protest outside the airline's headquarters in Basel.

The union described the 3,000 job cuts as "unacceptable".

Swiss said it would be entering into negotiations with trade unions and underlined that "compromises will be required on all sides if the ambitious goal of the new business plan is to be achieved."

It tentatively put forward the date of July 15 as a deadline for the conclusion of these negotiations.

Some industry experts say that the latest restructuring was the only route open to Swiss. However, Oliver Sutton of Interavia magazine told swissinfo the ailing airline still had a long way to go.

"Swiss has to get its act together to provide a profitable, attractive airline with good service. At that point, the company could become a potential partner," Sutton said.

"But as long as they offer too much capacity, they won't be attractive for outside bidders," he added.

Political voices

The political parties in Switzerland reacted in different ways to the news.

The Christian Democrats poured scorn on Tuesday's announcement, saying the company could have acted sooner to avoid such drastic measures, a position echoed by the Radicals.

The Swiss People's Party, the Radicals and the Christian Democrats jointly declared that the state should not pour any more money into the airline's coffers.

The Socialists called for a plan to help those who are set to lose their jobs to find new posts.

While the government has yet to publish its formal position, a group of three cabinet ministers charged with overseeing the airline's activities signalled their support for the new measures.

They said that alliances with other airlines would guarantee the national carrier's survival in a turbulent market.

Business partners

Some companies that do business with Swiss are already feeling the heat.

The cargo handler Swissport announced it would have to shed 500 jobs because of the Swiss restructure. Swiss generates 50 per cent of Swissport's business in Switzerland or 20 per cent of its trade volumes worldwide.

But Unique, the company that runs Zurich airport, said Swiss's latest announcement was not likely to have any effect on its own programme of cutbacks.

"We had already decided to shed 30 jobs by the middle of next year - we see no reason to change that," said spokesman Andreas Siegenthaler.

swissinfo with agencies

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