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Lufthansa's Swiss airlines repays state-backed pandemic loan early

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BERLIN (Reuters) - Swiss International Air Lines has repaid a state-backed loan to support it during the pandemic ahead of schedule as it returned to a positive cash flow in the first quarter after two years of losses, the subsidiary of Lufthansa said on Thursday.

The announcement adds to positive news coming from Lufthansa, Air France-KLM and other airlines as people rush to book long-awaited holidays after the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions.

Swiss initiated a restructuring in the summer of 2021, reducing its fleet by about 15% and cutting about 1,700 full-time jobs by the end of 2021.

"The measures we have initiated are having an impact. After cumulative losses of more than 1 billion Swiss francs ($1.02 billion) over the past two years, we have now returned to financial stability," Markus Binkert, the finance chief of Swiss airlines, said in a statement.

This allows Swiss to stop receiving state aid and finance itself on the capital market through the Lufthansa Group thanks to the more stable pandemic situation and the lifting of travel restrictions, Binkert said.

Switzerland's government welcomed the early repayment, saying that supporting Swiss resulted in no loss for the state.

"The good relations and the mutual trust have paid off," Switzerland's Finance Minister Ueli Maurer said in a statement published by the Swiss Federal Council.

($1 = 0.9783 Swiss francs)

(Reporting by Zuzanna Szymanska; Editing by Miranda Murray and Edmund Blair)

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