19 June, 2021

SWISS reduces number of staff losses. Yet 15% fleet reduction confirmed.

With the expectation of a lasting 20-per-cent decline in customer demand in the medium term, Swiss International Air Lines started the legal consultation procedure with staff over a reduction of staff numbers by around 780 more people. The airline was also looking to reduce its aircraft fleet by around 15%.

However, after the conclusion of the consultation period, SWISS has been able to reduce the number of such unavoidable dismissals to 550 staff. So in total, because of the coronavirus pandemic by the end of 2021, SWISS will thus have downsized its workforce by around 1,700 staff.
“I am truly sorry for all our employees who are being served notice,” says SWISS CEO Dieter Vranckx. “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.”

15-per-cent fleet reduction confirmed

The present SWISS fleet of more than 90 of its own aircraft and those operated on its behalf by Helvetic Airways under wet-lease arrangements will be reduced by 15 per cent from its 2019 size as planned in response to the decline in demand. Which five Airbus long-haul aircraft (A330s or A340s) and which ten short-haul aircraft will be withdrawn to this end is yet to be decided. On the short- and medium-haul fleet front, the reduction in the number of Helvetic Airways aircraft operated on SWISS’s behalf will be proportionately higher than the number of SWISS’s own aircraft withdrawn. SWISS is also considering modifications to its route portfolio, reductions in frequencies and a delayed resumption of services to some long-haul destinations.

“In the future SWISS will be smaller. But it will also be more focused, more digital, more efficient and more sustainable,” says Vranckx. “The transformation planned will be conducted over the next three years through our ‘reach’ strategic programme, with which we aim to realign our company to the changed market situation and achieve sustainable cost savings of some CHF 500 million.”

SWISS’s current production is still substantially below that of pre-pandemic times. In high summer, capacity is likely to be at around 50 to 55 per cent of its 2019 levels. For 2021 as a whole, SWISS expects its total production to be about 40 per cent of that of 2019.

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