Lufthansa confirms interest in SAS purchase

German airline Lufthansa has declared its interest in buying Scandinavian competitor SAS, with a spokesperson describing the firms as a "perfect couple."

Lufthansa confirms interest in SAS purchase

Lufthansa chairman Jürgen Weber has previously avoided directly answering questions regarding the possible purchase of SAS, but on Monday he clearly stated that the firm was an attractive proposition.

“We would happily integrate SAS,” Weber said at a press conference in Frankfurt, while expressing concern at the firm’s massive debts.

Lufthansa’s European communication head, Aasge Dünhaup, later confirmed Weber’s comments that SAS’ operations are of interest to the German giant.

“It is no secret that SAS and Lufthansa are a perfect couple in many areas,” Dünhaup told Norwegian news agency NTB.

Lufthansa have been one of the driving forces of the consolidation of the European airline industry in recent years. Following the purchase of Swiss International Air Lines in 2005, the firm has added Austrian Airlines and British Midland to its stable of companies.

Rumours of a interest in SAS have long been circulating and the firms already operate a significant number of code share services out of Scandinavian destinations.

Meanwhile, SAS, in which Norway, Denmark and Sweden together hold half the stock, has been hard-hit by the rise of low-cost airline Norwegian and by plunging passenger traffic numbers in the wake of the global economic crisis.

In the second quarter 2010, the airline narrowed its losses but remained in the red largely due to the hammering it took during the weeks of European flight chaos caused by a cloud of volcanic ash from Iceland.

Aside from SAS, Lufthansa is also reported to be interested in acquiring the Polish airline LOT as part of its strategy to build up capacity and take on global giants such as Emirates.

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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