Swiss pilots agree to redundancy plan

Despite several protests former Crossair pilots have accepted the rescue plan

Pilots of the national carrier Swiss have voted in favour of a proposed redundancy plan crucial to the airline’s survival.

This content was published on August 9, 2003 - 10:35

Nearly two-thirds of the members of the Swiss Pilots Association accepted the plan, as news emerged that Swiss has allegedly been seeking protection from creditors.

On Friday, Swiss announced that 396 pilots voted in favour of firing 526 former Crossair pilots, while 140 were against the proposal.

Swiss said in a statement that the agreement would offer advantages to all parties involved: the pilots who will leave the company, and those who will remain.

The national carrier described the move as a key requirement for the success of its current restructuring plan.

Last month the Swiss Pilots Association accepted a plan for 559 of the 920 former Crossair pilots to be sacked.

But Martin Gutknecht, a Swiss Pilots Association spokesman, said this number had been cut, as the former Crossair pilots would be mainly conducting Swiss charter flights.

The pilots who lose their jobs will receive between SFr85,000 and SFr140,000 in redundancy pay and will be dismissed according to seniority.

Uneasy atmosphere

Gutknecht said the sense of insecurity among pilots at Friday's four-hour extraordinary meeting was clearly noticeable.

“The relationship between the former Crossair pilots and Swiss is still tarnished,” he said after the meeting.

In June, Swiss, which was formed from the collapsed Swissair and regional carrier Crossair, was ordered by a court in Basel to share future redundancies equally between former Crossair and Swissair pilots.

However, the Swiss Pilots Association, which represents Crossair pilots, abandoned the ruling.

Grace period

In an interview with Saturday's German-language “Tages-Anzeiger” newspaper, Peter Vollmer, president of the House of Representatives' transport commission, said the airline was already looking into the possibility of obtaining creditor protection from the government.

“Swiss has already asked the government whether it would be willing to grant the airline a period during which it is protected from creditors and what consequences such a move would have,” Vollmer was quoted as saying.

According to Vollmer, politicians have been discussing such a “drastic” scenario for several weeks. However, when contacted by the paper, the airline said the information was erroneous.

swissinfo with agencies

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