Hello aims for December restart

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Insolvent Swiss airline Hello plans to restart operations in December if negotiations with a potential new investor can be concluded by 30 November.

The Basle-based charter and wet-lease carrier suspended all flights on 21 October after declaring bankruptcy due to the loss of several large contracts, rising fuel costs, the high value of the Swiss franc and "serious book keeping errors" in the airline's accounts.

Chief executive Robert Somers says that the carrier is negotiating with a potential investor. But any rescue agreement needs to be finalised by 30 November or otherwise the airline will be wound up.

If the investor will supply fresh capital, operations are to be begin by mid-December.

Hello wants to deploy two Airbus A320s during the winter schedule and add a third aircraft for the summer, after it previously operated four A320s.

The number of staff will be reduced by up to 75 from currently 155 employees, says Somers.

He continues to see a future for the airline even though the economic environment has not changed since operations were suspended. With European carriers such as Iberia and SAS restructuring their businesses, Somer says that Hello will be able to fill some of the vacated capacity.

It is early to say whether or not the investor negotiations are heading toward a likely agreement, he adds. But if the talks fail, there is no alternative plan to restart the airline.