SAS chief bails out

SAS managing director Jörgen Lindegaard is to quit the troubled airline in the autumn. No successor has yet been identified, wrote the company in a press statement.

Lindegaard has been running SAS since May 2001.

“I feel that the time is right for a new CEO to take over. For my part, I would like to take on a further challenge,” said Lindegaard.

He has a notice period of six months and the board has already begun the hunt for a replacement.

Lindegaard’s time has head of SAS has been characterised by billion kronor losses followed by cutbacks. The September 11th attacks happened shortly after he took on the role as managing director, heralding a crisis in the airline industry. At the same time, budget airlines have made great strides in the market.

SAS has still not fully pulled itself out of this turbulent era, returning a loss after financial items of 1.4 billion kronor for the first quarter of the year – a result comparable to the same period last year.

Improved performance was negatively affected by massive costs following strikes as well as rising fuel prices.

The SAS board said it regrets Lindegaard’s decision to leave the company.

“Jörgen has made an outstanding contribution to our company. It is no exaggeration to say that he has had one of the most difficult CEO positions in Scandinavia,” said Egil Myklebust, chairman of the SAS Group.

SAS shares climbed by around 1% following the announcement, against a background of a largely unchanged Stockholm stock market.


SAS announces reduced loss and pins hopes on summer flights

Scandinavian airline SAS narrowed its losses in the second quarter, the company said Thursday, as it set its hopes on an easing of coronavirus restrictions this summer.

SAS announces reduced loss and pins hopes on summer flights
A SAS aircraft taking off in Paris. Photo: Charles Platiau/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix

The earnings report came a day after the governments of Sweden and Denmark announced another round of aid to the ailing carrier.

From February to April, SAS booked a net loss of 2.43 billion Swedish kronor ($292 million, 240 million euros) — 30 percent smaller than in the second quarter last year.

The company also reported an improved operating profit “for the first time since the pandemic’s outbreak, both year-on-year and compared with the previous quarter,” pointing to its cost cutting efforts.

However, the number of passengers in the period declined by 140,000 compared to the first quarter, to 857,000.

This caused revenue to fall to 1.93 billion kronor, a 15 percent drop from the preceding quarter and 63 percent from a year earlier.

“The increase in vaccination rates provides some hope for the relaxation of restrictions, and an increase in demand ahead of the important summer season,” chief executive Karl Sandlund said in a statement.

However, the CEO also noted that “many customers are now increasingly choosing to book their tickets much closer to their travel dates, which makes it difficult to predict demand during the summer.”

SAS also said it expected claims from passengers of up to 150 million kronor after a European court ruled in March that customers should be compensated over disruptions due to a pilots’ strike in 2019.

After cutting 5,000 jobs last year — representing 40 percent of its workforce — SAS announced Wednesday an additional credit line of three billion kronor from the Danish and Swedish governments, its main shareholders, to get through the crisis.

The airline received a similar loan and a capital increase last year.

READ ALSO: Virus-stricken airline SAS secures new public loan from Denmark and Sweden