Air-Glaciers faces job cuts

Mon, 11. May. 2020

The board of directors of Air-Glaciers AG announced informed its employees about the necessity of urgent measures for the financial stabilization of the company. The measures include mass dismissal proceedings. The worst-case scenario could potentially affect 60 of the company's 146 employees.

According to a media release, the coronavirus crisis has exacerbated the tense financial situation at Air-Glaciers AG. The company is suffering from structural financial losses in the airline business. A loss of over CHF 1.5m is expected for 2019. Without the announced measures to stabilise the company's finances and in view of the coronavirus situation, the losses for the 2020 financial year could jeopardise the company's existence.

Trade union support
In order to support the employees during this time of crisis, the Christian Trade Union of Valais (SCIV) was informed in advance and offered to accompany the employees during this process. As provided for in the mass dismissal procedures, the work force and their representatives have time until the evening of 20 May 2020 to submit their proposals. This is intended to reduce the number of possible dismissals or to reduce their consequences for the staff.

These proposals will be examined by the board of directors. The measures to be taken will then be defined before the end of May 2020, taking into account the proposals and compromise solutions resulting from the consultation procedure. As things stand at present, the most pessimistic scenario could involve 60 redundancies or job cuts. These could affect all bases and current business activities. Today, the company has a work force of 146 employees.

Rescue and transport services guaranteed
According to the press release, rescue and transport services are still operational and secure. Persons in need, with or without a rescue card, can continue to count on the services of Air-Glaciers without restrictions. For commercial flights, however, the current health and international situation makes it impossible to set a timetable for the resumption of activities.

Restricted operations during the lockdown
According to an SRF report, the majority of helicopters are currently on the ground. Since the lockdown, there have been no more tourist flights, rescue flights have dropped by 90 percent and commercial flights by 70 percent. According to flight operations manager Patrick Fauchère, the crew must nevertheless be present as a public service. "In the event of a landslide, avalanche, or forest fire, the crew must be ready, and we have done that." However, according to chairman Philipp Perren in the same report, the ratio of employees to total sales is very high, also in comparison to the industry, so the planned job cuts are necessary.

Future of the Gstaad-Saanenland base
The impact of the mass dismissal on the seven different Air-Glaciers sites has not yet been clarified. The extent to which the Gstaad-Saanenland base will be affected is not yet clear. However, Perren told the media that the board of directors did not intend to abandon the bases in the Oberland.

Seven full-time employees work at the Gstaad-Saanenland base, which was founded in 1989, according to information on the company's homepage. Transport flights are offered from Saanen airport to places which are difficult to access, such as construction sites, forest areas, agriculture and mountain huts. Normally, taxi, sightseeing and training flights take place. A second helicopter is reserved exclusively for rescue flights during the day.

Based on AvS/Sonja Wolf

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