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Lufthansa unit Swiss International to cut jobs, planes and flights

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·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: A Lufthansa plane takes off behind a grounded jet at the airport in Frankfurt
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ZURICH (Reuters) - Lufthansa subsidiary Swiss is cutting its fleet by 15% and its workforce by up to 780 more people, the airline said on Thursday, as it responds to the collapse in passenger numbers caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

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 20% decrease in demand over the medium term, making restructuring unavoidable.

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

Under the restructuring, Swiss will reduce its fleet of 90 planes which it operates under its own name and the Helvetic brand by 15% from 2019 levels, it said.

Its short- and medium-haul fleet is being cut to 59 from 69 aircraft through the withdrawal of Airbus A320-family jets and a reduction in leasing, while long-haul aircraft will be cut to 26 from 31 by withdrawing five Airbus planes. Services and flight frequencies will be reduced as well.

Swiss had already planned to reduce its workforce of 9,500 by 1,000 by the end of 2021 through voluntary redundancies and natural staff turnover.

But now further cuts of up to 780 employees - in both ground and flying crews - could be necessary, it said.

"It has grown increasingly clear that our market is undergoing structural change, and that despite the actions which we were swift to take in response, a restructuring of our company now sadly seems unavoidable," Chief Executive Dieter Vranckx said.

Cabin crew union Kapers said it "deeply regretted" the move, and asked management to keep job cuts to a minimum.

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

(Reporting by John Revill; editing by Jason Neely)

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