AUA works council infuriated by board enlargement

Austrian Airlines (AUA) staff representatives have criticised the decision to increase the number of co-chiefs of the airline.The company’s supervisory board announced yesterday (Weds) that Thierry Antinori will take over as new head next April. The Frenchman will take over the marketing agendas from Andreas Bierwirth who currently cooperates with fellow board member Peter Malanik in managing AUA.Alfred Junghans, head of the aviation firm’s ground personnel works council, showed little understanding for the assignment of Antinori. He said today: “We are facing cuts, while AUA can afford to hire another board member.”The airline’s ground staff staged a demonstration at Vienna International Airport (VIA) this morning to express their disagreement with the board’s decision not to consider the inflation rate in their earnings. AUA staff of various departments already accepted wage cuts after the struggling airline was taken over by German competitor Lufthansa in September 2009.Meanwhile, business newspapers are speculating over the background of the decision to nominate Antinori as third co-chief of AUA. Outgoing Lufthansa CEO Wolfgang Mayrhuber said only in October that a two-member board was “adequate” for an airline of the size of AUA.Antinori, who was formerly active for French aviation company Air France, is tipped to introduce an even stricter efficiency course at the former Austrian flagship carrier founded in 1957.Mayrhuber, who will be succeeded by German businessman Christoph Franz at the beginning of January, announced recently that he expected AUA to have restored its finances as early as 2011.The Vienna-based airline managed to reduce its losses from 164.6 million Euros in the first nine months of 2009 to 44.4 million Euros in the same period of this year.It registered 1.1 million passengers in September 2010, up by 11.2 per cent year on year.Many cost-conscious travellers may, however, turn their backs on Austrian airports from April of next year when a controversial ticket tax comes into force.AUA and rivals like FlyNiki hit out at the Social Democrats (SPÖ) and the People’s Party (ÖVP) over their decision to charge tickets for flights departing from Austria with a tax of between eight and 35 Euros depending on the destination.