Debt-laden Swissair Group is studying the possible sell-off of its leasing arm Flightlease, as it faces even more turmoil amid a collapsing share price.

The Swissair parent company, formerly SAirGroup, aims to "find a solution this Autumn" to Flight-lease, and to its IT outsourcing division Atraxis, once its French and Belgian airline assets are dealt with. Swissair Group says that it is examining various options for Flightlease, and that any decision could have an impact on the leasing company's orders and their delivery schedule.

Flightlease has nine A340-600s on order for its airline sister company Swissair, along with 40 aircraft through its joint venture with US leasing company GATX. Its orders comprise A320 family aircraft, A330/A340s and Boeing 737s. Flightlease holds options on a further 10 A340-600s, while Swissair has separately agreed to lease two more of the type from International Lease Finance.

The leasing firm seems likely to adopt an earlier study to revamp the Swissair A340 order, which would see deliveries delayed from the current schedule beginning in 2003 and switched to a mix of -600s and smaller -300s (Flight International, 3-9 April, P8).

The airline is battling to control costs after announcing record losses this year, and it intends to free itself of all non-core business. Its position became even more unstable last week when its share price fell 12% following a gloomy report from ABN Amro bank about the value of the company, based on the sum of its components.

Chairman Mario Corti recently launched Change 2001, a cost-cutting drive to abolish hierarchy within the group and which may lead to lay-offs. The need for a leasing division would be reduced if the group were to be slimmed down further and selling it would alleviate the cashflow situation of the group.

Source: Flight International