Swiss International’s Lufthansa unit cuts jobs, planes and flights

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ZURICH (Reuters) – The Swiss subsidiary of Lufthansa is reducing its fleet by 15% and its workforce by up to 780 additional people, the airline said on Thursday, as it reacts to the collapse in passenger numbers caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

FILE PHOTO: A Lufthansa plane takes off behind an aircraft on the ground at the airport as the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in Frankfurt, Germany June 2, 2020. REUTERS / Kai Pfaffenbach

The airline, which received loan guarantees from the Swiss government worth 1.275 billion Swiss francs ($ 1.40 billion) last year, said it expects a drop of 20 % of demand in the medium term, making restructuring inevitable.

It saw passenger numbers plunge 90% in the first quarter of 2021, plunging it into an operating loss of 201 million Swiss francs.

As part of the restructuring, Swiss will reduce its fleet of 90 aircraft that it operates under its own name and under the Helvetic brand by 15% from 2019 levels, he said.

Its short and medium-haul fleet is reduced to 59 out of 69 aircraft thanks to the withdrawal of aircraft from the Airbus A320 family and a reduction in leasing, while long-haul aircraft will be reduced to 26 of 31 by withdrawing five Airbuses. Services and flight frequencies will also be reduced.

Swiss had already planned to reduce its workforce by 9,500 by the end of 2021 through voluntary layoffs and natural employee turnover.

But now, further reductions of up to 780 employees – in ground and flight crew – may be needed, he said.

“It has become increasingly clear that our market is undergoing structural changes and that despite the measures we have taken quickly in response, a restructuring of our company now seems unfortunately inevitable,” said Managing Director Dieter Vranckx.

The Cabin Crew Members Kapers Union said it “deeply regrets” the move and called on management to minimize the job cuts.

Parent company Lufthansa lowered its forecast for flights this year last month, saying it planned to fly at just 40% of its pre-pandemic capacity.

Reporting by John Revill; edited by Jason Neely

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