SAS recovery continues

Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) said on Tuesday that it was on target for a return to profit in 2005 as net earnings for the third quarter confirmed the company's turnaround.

SAS third-quarter net profit rose fourfold to 529 million kronor (55 million euros, 64 million dollars) against 133 million a year earlier.

“Third-quarter earnings were, as anticipated, positive and in line with the profitability plan for the SAS group,” chief executive Jörgen Lindegård said in a statement.

Financial market analysts, polled by SME Direkt, had been looking for a net profit figure of 595 million kronor.

For the first nine months of the year, SAS posted a net profit of 57 million kronor against a loss of 1.09 billion kronor in the same period last year.

SAS said its restructuring plan “Turnaround 2005”, launched in 2002, had been almost completed, and it was looking only for another 500 million kronor in savings to achieve its 14 billion overall cost reduction aim.

The airline’s markets continued to be dogged by massive over-capacity and price pressures, Lindegaard said, adding however that pressures had abated during the autumn.

“Continued uncertainty regarding development in the airline industry gives reason to be cautious, but provided there are no significant changes in the business environment, adopted business plans indicate positive earnings for 2005,” he said.


‘We agree to disagree’: Still no progress in marathon SAS strike talks

By lunchtime on Friday, talks between the Scandinavian airline SAS and unions representing striking pilots were still stuck on "difficult issues".

'We agree to disagree': Still no progress in marathon SAS strike talks

“We agree that we disagree,” Roger Klokset, from the Norwegian pilots’ union, said at lunchtime outside the headquarters of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise in Stockholm, where talks are taking place. “We are still working to find a solution, and so long as there is still some point in continuing negotiations, we will do that.” 

Mats Ruland, a mediator for the Norwegian government, said that there were “still several difficult issues which need to be solved”. 

At 1pm on Friday, the two sides took a short break from the talks for lunch, after starting at 9am. On Thursday, they negotiated for 15 hours, breaking off at 1am on Friday morning. 

READ ALSO: What’s the latest on the SAS plane strike?

Marianne Hernæs, SAS’s negotiator on Friday told journalists she was tired after sitting at the negotiating table long into the night. 

“We need to find a model where we can meet in the middle and which can ensure that we pull in the income that we are dependent on,” she said. 

Klokset said that there was “a good atmosphere” in the talks, and that the unions were sticking together to represent their members.

“I think we’ve been extremely flexible so far. It’s ‘out of this world’,’ said Henrik Thyregod, with the Danish pilots’ union. 

“This could have been solved back in December if SAS had not made unreasonable demands on the pilots,” Klokset added. 

The strike, which is now in its 12th day, has cost SAS up to 130m kronor a day, with 2,550 flights cancelled by Thursday, affecting 270,000 passengers.