Facing a significant drop in orders, the Doppelmayr Garaventa Group has made the difficult decision to cut about six percent of its global workforce. Out of the nearly 200 positions eliminated, 95 are at the firm’s Austrian headquarters. Prior to the layoffs, Doppelmayr employed approximately 3,400 people at sites circling the globe, including at North American bases in Salt Lake City, Utah and Saint-Jérôme, Quebec.
Globally, around 50 percent of Doppelmayr’s business happens at ski resorts. When other leisure and tourism segments are included, that number grows to 80 percent. In the last complete year before Covid shutdowns, North American lift installations included places hit hard in the pandemic economy: theme parks, cruise ports and sports stadiums. Even urban gondolas, which offer the promise of socially-distanced transportation, depend on municipal and regional tax revenues to be built.
“Despite a few attractive individual projects, the order situation has decreased significantly in recent months, and an uncertain winter with few or postponed investments in cable cars is approaching us,” said Thomas Pichler, Managing Director of Doppelmayr Holding SE. “We now have to adapt our workforce to the changed order situation.”
In North America, the company saw all its orders from Alterra Mountain Company, Boyne Resorts and Vail Resorts postponed earlier this year. While the upcoming 2020-21 winter will hopefully be successful for many ski areas, Doppelmayr’s customers again face immense uncertainty at a time when 2021 capital projects need to be planned and financed. Doppelmayr is optimistic that a headcount reduction now will enable it to survive and thrive as travel recovers. “We assume that with this new workforce we will have a stable number of employees for the next few years,” noted Pichler.
Four people were injured when their chair fell approximately 30 feet from the upper section of the Stoos-Fronalpstock chairlift in central Switzerland last night. It is believed the chair came in contact with a snow cat’s winch cable before falling. Such cables are commonly used to assist with grooming steep slopes. The lift involved is a Garaventa detachable quad with bubbles.
The accident occurred around 10:00 pm when employees of the Lindt chocolate company were descending from an evening private event. Two of the four victims sustained life-threatening injuries. “We are in close contact with the medical team and family members and wish our employees to heal as quickly as possible,” said a spokesperson for the chocolatier. Six people in two other chairs were rescued uninjured. The lift will remain closed while an investigation and repairs are completed.
06.02.2020: Nach 22 Uhr wurden 4 Personen beim Absturz eines Sessels der oberen Sektion des Sesselliftes Stoos-Fronalpstock verletzt. Vier Rettungshelikopter, der Rettungsdienst Schwyz und die Fw Stoos im Einsatz. Ermittlungen zum Unfallhergang laufen. Mehr Infos folgen später.
No one was injured when a downbound cabin detached from a haul rope near the Swiss town of Schwyz this morning. The empty gondola fell some 60 feet into a pasture and was heavily damaged. Approximately 50 people in other carriers were brought into stations normally and the gondola was closed. It appears the incident happened at or near one of the lift’s 16 towers.
Kurz vor Sonntagmittag, 20. Okt. 2019, ist eine Gondel der Rotenfluebahn abgestürzt. Personen wurden nicht verletzt. Der Unfallhergang und die Unfallursache werden in Zusammenarbeit mit der Schweizerischen Unfalluntersuchungsstelle ermittelt. Mehr unter: https://t.co/XuGwoTFsdspic.twitter.com/LRgt5CODLq
The gondola is a 2014 Garaventa model with CWA Omega cabins and torsion grips. An investigation will be undertaken by the Swiss Transportation Safety Board. The company which operates the lift, Rotenfluebahn Mythenregion AG, says it will not reopen the system until it is cleared to do so and the rope is inspected for damage.
Update 10/21: The operator issued a statement blaming the accident on high wind. The affected cabin collided with the tower before falling. The installation was already in the process of being cleared of riders when the incident occurred, a process which takes 20 minutes. The gondola remains temporarily closed.
This is not a good week for tramways in Europe. An incident last night on the highest mountain in Germany severely damaged one of two Eibsee Cable Car cabins during a practice exercise. Apparently a rescue carrier broke loose due to a broken chain hoist and crashed into the 120 passenger tramway cabin below at high speed. Like with the fire at a French tram on Tuesday, the lift was free of passengers and luckily no one was injured. A Zugspitze spokesperson says the Garaventa-built tram will be out of service until further notice.
The lift became the pinnacle of ropeway technology when it opened last December, breaking world records for the tallest lattice tower (416 feet), longest ropeway span (10,541 feet) and highest vertical rise (6,381 feet), making this a truly stunning setback. When a cabin on the Alyeska, Alaska tram hit a tower in 2013, technicians were able to replace it with a counterweight in just a few weeks until a new cabin could be manufactured. We’ll have to wait and see whether CWA can repair the Zugspitze cabin or must fabricate a whole new one.
From Fjord to Sky in Five is the tagline for the Loen Skylift, a spectacular new sightseeing tramway and adventure destination in Norway that debuted this morning. Rising from the sea to 1,011-meter Mt. Hoven, the brand new Garaventa aerial tram becomes the steepest jig-back built in modern times and is already being hailed as one of the world’s great lifts. “The Loen Skylift is the quickest and easiest way to explore the best of what Norwegian mountains have to offer,” said Richard Grov, general manager of Loen Skylift. “The trip from the fjord to the mountain only takes a few minutes.”
An ascent from dock to dock is 3,248 feet over a slope length of 5,021 feet, yielding an insane average grade of 53 degrees. That’s much steeper than every lift in North America, the steepest of which averages only 34.3 degrees. At seven meters per second, a Skylift ride takes just five minutes and the machine can transport 460 passengers each hour in two 45-passenger CWA Kronos cabins. As the Doppelmayr annual brochure notes, “[The Skylift] features one strongly-overhanging tower standing on two feet and anchored back with a tie bar. The tramway has two sets of track ropes and no track rope brake.”