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Airline Swiss to ground half its fleet, cut work hours

FILE PHOTO: A Swiss airline aircraft takes off at Cointrin Airport in Geneva

ZURICH (Reuters) - Lufthansa <LHAG.DE> subsidiary Swiss International is taking half its fleet out of service and reducing working hours for flight personnel to help safeguard its finances during the coronavirus outbreak, it said.

"To compensate for the sharp fall in demand and resultant lost revenue, SWISS has decided to take immediate further precautionary action to secure liquidity," it said in a statement on Friday.

Payout of variable salary components would be postponed to the end of this year for both flying personnel and senior management, the airline said, adding all recruitment besides apprentices and interns would also be halted and all non-essential projects halted or postponed.

Major U.S. and European airlines have begun discussions with governments on obtaining financial assistance to weather a crippling travel slump brought on by the coronavirus, which has hobbled global travel and is threatening thousands of industry jobs.

Parent group Lufthansa on Friday said it would scrap its annual dividend, slash its flight schedule further and was also considering a request for state aid to help it deal with the impact of the virus outbreak.

Swiss said it was in contact with authorities and would initially apply for short-time working hours for cockpit and cabin staff, and was also considering such measures for workers on the ground.


(Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)