SAS back in profit after restructuring

Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) said on Thursday that it had returned to profit in 2005 as targeted in an ambitious multi-year restructuring plan.

Full-year profit came in at 255 million kronor against a loss of 1.76 billion in 2004.

Pretax profit for the full year was 573 million kronor.

For the fourth quarter alone, net profit was 198 million kronor, compared with a loss of 627 million in the final three months of 2004.

“After five years of sweeping changes, the SAS Group posts positive earnings,” said chairman Jörgen Lindegård in a statement.

“‘Turnaround 2005’ comprising savings of SEK 14 billion was completed as planned,” he said, referring to the troubled airline’s recovery plan which has targeted improved competitiveness.

But despite “powerful measures”, the company was not yet out of the woods and had to cut costs further to find another 2 billion kronor, Lindegaard said.

“Further cost savings must be made to ensure long-term competitiveness in several of the Group’s units,” he said.

Investors welcomed the airline’s return to positive earnings, and the price of SAS shares rose by six percent on the Stockholm stock exchange to 106.50 kronor.



‘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.