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Fewer aircraft, fewer personnel: Helvetic reduces the fleet and seats per aircraft

The wet lease provider is feeling the decline in demand from its main customer Swiss. However, Helvetic Airways is even experiencing increasing demand in one area.

Even major airlines are struggling with coronavirus fears and increasing entry restrictions due to declining bookings. The Lufthansa Group cuts the offer by 70 percent and has to save. A small Swiss regional airline also feels this: Helvetic Airways. It generates a large part of its sales from wet lease contracts – i.e. the rental of aircraft and crews to other airlines.

The biggest customer: Lufthansa subsidiary Swiss. A large part of Helvetic’s fleet is actually on the way for the Swiss Lufthansa subsidiary. Actually. You can feel the decrease in Swiss flights “clearly”, said a spokesman for the airline. However, no Helvetic jets are currently parked. The small airline is trying to compensate for the lower demand through fleet planning. Because it is in the middle of a renewal of the aircraft fleet with Embraer E190-E2.

Fewer planes in summer

The Swiss have ordered twelve planes from Brazil in Brazil. Numbers four to seven should actually arrive in Zurich this spring. Helvetic Airways wants to spread this out over a longer period because of the corona crisis. One is therefore in talks with Embraer, said the spokesman.

At the same time, an Embraer E190, the return of which was planned anyway, will be floated out a little earlier. With this, Helvetic wants to make it possible that instead of 15 to 16 as previously planned, only 13 planes will be in operation this summer. But that is still two more than a year ago.

Terminations too

The airline will also reduce the number of seats that can be booked to 100 on the flights that are still being carried out. This makes it possible to get by with two instead of three flight attendants in the cabin. So you can “continue to offer competitive prices,” said the Helvetic spokesman. He was convinced that the wet lease business area would continue to be successful in the coming months.

Nevertheless, there is currently “massive overcapacity in flying personnel”. Therefore, Helvetic has imposed a hiring freeze. Basic courses for new cabin crew were suspended from May. “Unfortunately, we also had to make layoffs in the cockpit,” said the Helvetic spokesman. Around ten employees affected by the decision.

More inquiries for charter flights

One effect that Helvetic is experiencing because of its business model is also positive: Short-term inquiries for charter flights have increased. “These are primarily groups and business travelers who no longer come back home,” said the spokesman. This week, a group of 35 people were flown from Palermo to Zurich. “We are convinced that this type of order will increase in the coming weeks.”

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