SAS lambasted for late safety checks

Swedish aviation authorities on Sunday harshly criticized Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) for not carrying out safety checks on its planes on time.

“We are critical,” Gunnar Billinger, the head of the Swedish Civil Aviation Authority, told AFP, adding that SAS’ late safety checks were considered “serious”.

“All airlines… must carry out controls at set times,” he insisted.

Five SAS planes last year and three in 2005 did not undergo the required safety inspections on time, Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter reported.

The aircraft in question were Airbus A330 and A340, which are used for longhaul flights to the United States and to Asia, according to the paper.

In one case last year, a plane flew 225 hours, the equivalent of 30 longhaul flights, without first being found airworthy, Dagens Nyheter reported.

For a plane to be considered airworthy, safety checks must be carried out at specific dates and the aircraft must be found to conform with guidelines set by the country where it was made, which in the case of the Airbus planes is France.

Aircraft that are not certified airworthy are banned from flying. Any flights they carry out are considered illegal, another aviation authority official told Dagens Nyheter.

Billinger meanwhile said SAS “remains a safe company”, pointing out that the Scandinavian airline had itself notified the authorities to the safety lapses.


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