Andrew Doyle/MUNICH

Crossair is being forced to look at trimming back its aircraft fleet after a majority of its pilots rejected new contract terms negotiated between the airline and unions over the past several months. It is also suffering the effects of high fuel prices and the strong dollar.

The negative result of the pilot ballot is likely to lead to a delay in Crossair's selection of the Airbus A320 or Boeing 737 family to replace its Boeing MD-80 fleet.

The Swissair regional subsidiary is considering closing loss-making routes which would enable it to sell up to 10 Saab 2000s and MD-80s, and retire its Saab 340 fleet earlier than previously planned. "In addition, the temporary suspension of operations by the MD-80 fleet is also under consideration. It adds that deliveries of Embraer regional jets may also be delayed.

Crossair is in the midst of receiving a substantial fleet of Embraer ERJ-145s and is the launch customer for the larger ERJ-170 and ERJ-190-200 models.

As part of the cost-cutting drive the regional says the future of its operating base at Lugano "will be assessed".

All of the steps combined are likely to lead to 200-300 job losses. "These measures are to ensure the economic future of the company," says Crossair.

The airline says any improvement to its latest offer to pilots is "out of the question". - Crossair head of marketing Richard Heideker has resigned and will leave the carrier at the end of the year.

Source: Flight International