Air Transport World

A national regional: Luxembourg's flag carrier fights back to profit amid turbulence, uncertainty.(Profile)(Company Profile)

For Christian Heinzmann, these are uneasy times. "The most difficult year Luxair has ever experienced" was 2003, the CEO of Luxembourg's national carrier told ATW recently and although he expected the parent company to show a positive operating result for 2004, with the airline breaking even, he recognizes that much remains to be accomplished.

On a more delicate note, Heinzmann, who joined Luxair from VLM Airlines in January 2001, has been inculpated in the Nov. 6, 2002, fatal crash of a Luxair F50 at Luxembourg's Findel Airport in which 20 were killed. Depending on the outcome of the preliminary investigation, he may face a lengthy public trial to determine whether as chief executive he bears personal responsibility for training and operational shortcomings that were identified by the examining magistrate as having contributed to the accident.

It is an unusual--perhaps unprecedented--situation in European aviation, particularly in light of the fact that the accident investigation determined that the crash occurred because the pilot selected "ground idle" mode for the propellers while the aircraft was still aloft, in violation of Luxair's flight training and operations manual. …

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