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More layoffs planned at ČSA

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According to Aktuálně.cz, the massive lay offs aimed at helping to save the Czech Airlines that are deep in loss is halfway through. Some 400 employees have been sacked.

“The laying off affects professions across the whole of the company. The first ones to leave were administrative and technical-operational workers,” airlines spokeswoman Hana Hejsková told Aktuálně.cz.

ČSA started the lay offs according to the rescue plan introduced by the company’s management led by its President Radomír Lašák. The plan proposes to lay off 860.

Lašák’s plan originally also included lowering of pilots’ salaries by 30%. He even offered to leave ČSA together with the whole management if pilots agree to the wage decrease.

Aktuálně.cz found out that the new supervisory board, currently putting together its own version of cuts plan wants to lower the pilots’ wages by 45%. This means a drop of CZK 90,000 per month for an average salary of CZK 200,000. The pilots led by Filip Gaspar, president of their union organisation, have already turned down the 30% drop offer from Lašák. Stewardesses should lose 25% and other employees 15%.

New head of the ČSA board Václav Novák indirectly confirmed the information on Monday evening. “We are holding talks with the unions and we do not want to discuss these matters through media. On the other hand., it is true that your numbers are close to reality,” he told Aktuálně.cz adding that further restructuring plans will be ready for board discussion next Tuesday.

According to the information available to Aktuálně.cz, the laying off has not yet touched the pilots. They are only leaving out of their own accord until the end of the year. In case the company decides to lay them off the first ones to leave will be those that have been the shortest time with the company in the particular position with the particular type of plane.

Some 30 pilots decided on voluntary resignation. They leave with a severance pay of 12 salaries.

Offer is on the table
In the meantime, another restructuring plan is being prepared by the new supervisory board chaired by the crisis manager Václav Novák from M.L. Moran.

The new plan should be discussed in the board next Tuesday. It should have taken place today but since both ministers of transport and finance are to attend and one of them was unable to, the meeting was postponed.

Novák does not object current laying off. “We do not hinder this process. Next board meeting will show whether the restructuring will take place, or a new owner will step in. We will calculate our own numbers when it comes to laying off and then it might transpire that it is necessary to lay off more people. That is why it is better not to wait but start immediately,” Novák commented on current laying off.

Further ČSA destiny now lies in the hands of the cabinet, which received a binding bid for purchase of the airlines last week.

Consortium Unimex Group and Travel Service is the last remaining bidder. The consortium offered CZK 1 billion in case the cabinet levels out the airlines assets at zero at least. Currently the assets are some hundreds of millions in the red.

Rescue through airport

Finance Minister Eduard Janota said he wants to decide upon the offer within 14 days.

Supervisory board led by Novák is still preparing its rescue plan in case the privatisation will fall through.

One of the options to shift ČSA into the black is to join some of its activities with another state-owned company – Prague Airport. As Aktuálně.cz reported, this could include handling of luggage for example. “I certainly know at this moment that it would be possible to somehow interconnect the handling. ČSA has its own and the airport too. There is space for cuts. We will discuss it with the airport,” said Novák. ČSA is also looking into other possibilities of cutting the costs.

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