Austrian regional division to axe CRJ fleet and cut 400 jobs

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Austrian Airlines Group is to axe its entire Bombardier CRJ200 fleet early next year as part of a restructuring that will cut 14 aircraft from the 55 in its Austrian Arrows division.

Around 400 jobs are likely to be lost as a result, although these will be among the 1,000 being shed under the reorganisation plans disclosed previously.

The 50-seat aircraft, which have long been under review by the carrier, are to be replaced with larger types already in the fleet to lower unit costs and improve the efficiency of its regional operation.

"Collapse in the high-price business travel market no longer allows us to operate aircraft with 50 seats profitably," says the carrier, which adds that it will take out the capacity from its Vienna-based fleet.

Its CRJs will be removed from service at the beginning of summer 2010 and Austrian will also reduce its Bombardier Q300 fleet, switching partly to Q400s instead. Larger aircraft now used on charter services will also be brought into the scheduled timetable.

Austrian Arrows' regional flights are operated by Tyrolean Airways, and the airline's managing director Manfred Helldoppler says: "We anticipate that demand for the high-price business travel segment will remain weak in the coming years. We must adjust our fleet structure to this development."