Austrian spies fresh 'leadership culture' with new managers

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Austrian Airlines is restructuring its management as it moves all flight operations to its regional subsidiary Tyrolean Airways by 1 July.

The ailing Vienna-based carrier states that it wants to "establish a new leadership culture" as part of its €220 million ($293 million) cost-cutting and revenue improvement plan to return to profitability.

Former Swiss International Air Lines chief operations officer Gaudenz Ambühl has been named to succeed Christian Fitz as Tyrolean's managing director, effective 1 June. He will also become chief pilot of the combined fleets.

Fitz "decided to resign from his management function", the airline says. Austrian's current chief pilot, Fritz Strahammer, will also resign.

It is not yet clear whether Fitz and Strahammer will merely reliquish their managerial responsibilties or if they will leave the company altogether, an Austrian spokesman tells Flightglobal Pro. Both are active pilots in the current Austrian fleet, and they must decide by the end of May whether to accept the new terms at Tyrolean.

The number of Austrian pilots moving to Tyrolean will be revealed after 4 June, the spokesman adds.

Rolf Brand has been appointed to succeed Harald Lazar as Tyrolean's flight operations director on 1 July. Brand, a BAE Systems 146/Avro RJ captain, previously managed the flight operations of Swiss European Air Lines.

Lazar will continue to be chief pilot of Tyrolean's existing fleet of Bombardier Dash 8/Q400 and Fokker 70 and 100 aircraft, but will also take over "additional management functions", according to Austrian.

Michael Ruplitsch, currently Austrian's vice-president corporate project and IT services, will become the new head of human resources, where he will be responsible for the joint collective bargaining agreement for flight and cabin crew.

He succeeds Richard Piller, who is leaving the company in "best mutual agreement", according to the carrier.

Ruplitsch's former IT post will be filled by Andreas Zerlauth, who is currently deputy vice-president HR and organisation.

As part of the restructuring, Austrian has decided to merge its ground operations and hub management division to "bundle all interfaces" with Vienna airport. Markus Christl, currently head of hub management, will become vice-president of the combined department, while the current head of ground operations, Thomas Suritsch, will leave the company "at his own wish and in best mutual agreement".