The pandemic hit the Swiss airline hard. It has reported an operating loss of 654 million francs by 2020. The passenger volume of Switzerland had been reduced to a quarter of 2019 by 2020. The previous year there was still a profit of 578 million francs. New CEO Dieter Vranckx on the plight of the airline.
The dual Belgian-Swiss citizen has been working in various airline management positions since 1998. From 2013 to 2016 he was head of sales and marketing at Swiss, responsible for the Swiss, German and Austrian markets. Vranckx lives in the canton of Zurich, is married and has two children.
SRF News: You’ve been in office for two months now, and that’s in the worst crisis in Switzerland. How hard is it to start in a situation like this?
Dieter Vranckx: There are always two parts: on the one hand, knowing the employees and on the other, the business. Knowing employees while working from home is a challenge. 2020 was an extremely difficult year. But we were able to connect Switzerland with the world with a minimum flight plan, which was extremely important for the freight business.
The ever-changing framework conditions are very drastic for us.
How serious is Switzerland currently?
Flight capacity is currently 20%, for the summer we expect capacity to increase to 65%. The ever-changing framework conditions are very drastic for us.
How is the Swiss in the next two years?
We are currently in crisis management. The other part is about training for the future, where we look at the years 2023 and 2024. It is clear that the market will look different after Corona, and this is where we need to think.
1,000 jobs must be reduced in Switzerland, of which 500 have already been reduced. How should this dismantling be imagined?
The reduction occurred through voluntary measures, for example, through early retirement or failure to replace employees leaving the company.
This year they plan to fly 50 percent of the previous year’s capacity. Could it be that significantly more employees will have to be laid off in the next period?
We are glad that the instrument of short-term work exists. The structural adjustment of the Swiss, also in terms of employees, is the issue of 2022 and 2023, that is, in the medium and long term. Therefore, it is difficult to use the 2021 capacity for these calculations.
The short-term work will last until mid-August. What does this mean for long-term planning in terms of staff?
We will see what the new market conditions mean to us. What does less demand mean? What does less business travel mean? Chances are there will be a reduction in staffing bodies.
Keyword Vaccination Pass: Will only vaccinated people be allowed to fly with you from the summer?
For us it is not a vaccination pass, but a health pass. In this health passport, vaccination, but also the test results should be visible. Ideally, this passport should be uniform worldwide.
Interview conducted by Dennis Hoffmeyer.