VIENNA – Skoda Auto a.s. says it will operate on only four days per week in various parts of its Mlada Boleslav, Kvasiny and Vrchlabi, Czech Republic, plants in the coming months.

Following the return of Skoda workers Jan. 12 from an extended Christmas break imposed by management as a result of the deteriorating new-car market, the assembly lines of Skoda Fabia, Octavia and Octavia Tour models, as well as work in other areas, will be shut down on Fridays.

In the case of the Roomster MPV model, there will be no Monday production.

Workers will be paid 75% of their usual wage on the work-free days.

The Skoda Superb and the Yeti, Skoda’s new small cross/utility vehicle scheduled for Job One launch in late May, are not affected by the measures.

Skoda says the 4-day week is expected to remain in force until mid-2009, but the auto maker could return to a full schedule sooner than that if the market situation improves, Chairman Reinhard Jung tells German magazine Auto Motor und Sport.

Some 2,500 employees, mainly foreign contract workers, are to leave their jobs at Skoda by the end of January. About 1,500 already were laid off last year. Roughly 900 permanent staffers are to be transferred to jobs that had been filled by contract labor.

At the beginning of last year, Skoda forecast 2008 production at more than 700,000 cars worldwide, including output in China. Although final data has not been released, the auto maker likely missed that target due to the global economic crisis.