airazurxtror wrote:That newspaper is "L'Echo", a specialized newspaper which is usually kept very well informed by its financial and economic sources.
And their aviation journalist Patrick Anspach, who wrote the last article, is one of he most knowlegeable people about aviation in Belgium. I meet him at every press conference on aviation.
That may all be very true, but that doesn't mean all they write is always right, is it?
Let's look at some basic facts:
Firstly, L'echo is still referring to last years result of SN as an 'expected loss of xx million', whereas the exact figure is readily deductible from the LH annual report published more than a month ago. It may not differ substantially nor matter all that much to you, but especially for a financial newspaper I'd expect them to be far more professional and use exact figures as soon as they are available. They are, but they seem to be unknown to them more than one month after publication: to me it shows they are thus lagging behind on facts a bit....
Secondly, it seems l'echo and its journalist have only now discovered that SN are not only going to simplify their medium haul fleet, but are also going to seriously reduce its total size. As pointed out already, this reduction in medium haul planes is something which has been ongoing throughout the year already and is more than half completed by now, with 8 of the 14 RJ85s and 4 of the 8 737s already gone and replaced by a smaller number of A319/A320! Once again, something like this just shows they are indeed lagging behind on facts.
Thirdly, the rest of the article is based on talk with anonymous 'experts' and 'analysts' which are clearly pushing their own personal solution, rather than inform us on that of SN, which -I hope you agree- ultimately is the only one that really matters.
I agree that one possible solution is to simply cut all loss making routes and sack almost 1,000 people as a direct consequence: this is most definitely the quickest way to restore immediate profitability at SN even. Something like this is also the only possible solution when there is real urgency involved as you don't have the luxury to bother about any long term strategy any longer. However, this is not the plan of SN, as was reconfirmed by the CEO very recently (after the article appeared and with a clear reference to it even).
SN has opted not to just shrink the airline back to profitability (as Anspach clearly advocates), but rather has decided to strategically reorientate towards flying much more long haul routes (FINALLY!) as an alternative way to improve both its financial results as well as being of much more use to its partners than under Anspach's plan: the first phase of this plan is now fully underway with the insourcing of the DLA/NSI flights from LX, the increase in non-stops on FIH and the launch of JFK, with a similar further expansion on long haul planned for next year too.
Obviously, such a strategic reorientation takes much more time to implement than a simple 'one big cut-to-profitability plan' and it is only possible if you have sufficient cash to bridge the 2 year period needed for it to take effect, something which SN luckily has, contrary to what you can often read here and so they have decided on this alternative approach already in December last year and have confirmed sticking to it very recently. One may always be sceptical about such reassurances, but frankly everything we see so far, seems to confirm this indeed.
During the implementation period and as part of the plan, some leisure routes are indeed going to be closed as they are loss making (during winter) and of no strategic importance and this will happen when the remainder of the RJs and 737s still around today are phased out, yet as you can see in the topic about the winter 2012 routes already loaded in the GDS, the cut is nowhere near what was written in l'echo.
This winter there will indeed be a surplus of staff (albeit much smaller than what Anspach guessed because far less routes are going to be closed than he suggested), yet this surplus is not going to exist for very long due to the subsequent expansions planned on long haul: sacking hundreds of trained and qualified people only to rehire most of them a couple of months later doesn't make much sense, especially not in Belgium, so other solutions will have to be found to bridge this period.
FWIW, SN had a proposal in place until our government felt the need to unilaterally turn upside down the entire carreer perspective of flight crews during their recent pension reform (hence the public frustration), yet it seems Di Rupo is about ready to announce somewhat of a U turn on this matter: if confirmed, that would be a very good thing as this reopens relatively smooth ways to bridge the gap and to proceed with turn around of SN into an airline focussed much more on long haul than it is today, although much of the details obviously need to be ironed out still, but none of it then comes close to what is mentioned in the article.
Let's just say the article reflects the personal ideas and beliefs of the author, much more than it reflects any real knowledge of what is being implemented.