SABENA CHAIRMAN and chief executive, Pierre Godfroid has resigned, to be replaced by Swissair executive Paul Reutlinger. Godfroid ran into a bitter dogfight between the management and the airline unions over a controversial restructuring plan involving a pay freeze and longer working hours. Two other senior Sabena managers have been told to quit.

Godfroid's attempt to push through the controversial 1995-2000 business plan and the continuing impasse between the two sides after a series of damaging strikes, in spite of the intervention of the Belgian authorities, has finally forced his resignation.

The unions blamed the inflexible approach of the Sabena boss in trying to bulldoze through the more-work-for-less-pay plan.

Reutlinger now Swissair executive vice-president marketing and ground services, hopes for a renewed impetus in the stalled talks with the unions. He has already made clear that the business plan remains in force.

Other management changes agreed at the 26 February board meeting, include the appointment of Jan Huyghebaert as chairman, he now heads Belgian holding company Almanijm. Chief operating officer, Gery Daeninck and Raymond Aelvoet, executive vice-president flight operations, have each lost their jobs. Reutlinger's place on the Sabena board, is being taken by Swissair's chief operating officer, Philippe Brugisser.

Sabena, 49.5% owned by Swissair, did better than expected in 1995, posting a consolidated deficit of BFr530 million ($17.5m) in 1995, compared to BFr1.22 billion, in 1994.

The result includes an operating profit of BFr3 million, in spite of 29 days of industrial action by Sabena staff, firemen and air traffic controllers at Brussels Airport.

Consolidated results, for the Sabena Group, show a loss of BFr1.62 billion with the airline suffering a loss, after provisions of BFr1.98 billion.

Source: Flight International