Arizona Federal is closing four branches, including three in the East Valley, the credit union said Friday.

In a message to members, Arizona Federal Chief Executive Ronald L. Westad said the closures are needed to deal with a decline in demand for financial services across the branch network.

“While we regret having to take this action, we do so as an appropriate step to ensure the long-term success of your credit union,” he said in the message. “The operating costs to maintain a 29-branch network in this economic environment are no longer prudent, given the reduced demand.”

The branches to be closed effective April 4 are:

• Greenfield Branch, southeast corner of Greenfield and Broadway roads, 4403 E. Broadway Road, Mesa;

• Fiesta Mall Branch, near Alma School Road and Southern Avenue, 1457 W. Southern Ave., Mesa;

• 48th Street In-Store Branch (Inside Fry’s), northeast corner of 48th Street and Baseline Road, 2700 W. Baseline, Tempe; and

• South Mountain Branch, northeast corner of Central Avenue and Baseline Road, 7227 S. Central Ave., Suite 1010, Phoenix.

Westad said the Phoenix-based financial institution plans to transfer all of the 49 employees at the four branches to other branches.

The credit union will have 25 branches remaining.

East Valley customers will still be served by two branches in Mesa, one in Apache Junction and one in Gilbert, he said.

Although the branch closings will reduce costs, Westad said the credit union will not be able to return to profitability until more borrowers are able to make loan repayments. And that will be a function of an economic turnaround, he said.

“We expect further losses in 2009,” he said. “We hope to see some improvement in the second half of the year.”

The credit union reported a loss of $115 million for 2008. At year end, the institution had $170 million in capital and reserves to cover loan losses, Westad said.

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