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SAS shares jump as airline returns to profit

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SAS shares jump as airline returns to profit
13:55 CEST+02:00
Scandinavian airline SAS on Wednesday said it returned to profit in the second quarter as its passenger numbers increased, and maintained its outlook of full-year growth despite higher fuel prices.

Following the news of its best quarter results since 2008, the airline saw its share price soar 17.96 percent to 14.40 kronor in midday trading on the Stockholm stock exchange, which was down 1.42 percent.

For the April to June quarter, SAS posted a net profit of 551 million kronor ($86.7 million), up from a loss of 502 million kronor for the year-ago period, the company said in a statement.

Sales for the quarter meanwhile swelled 12.5 percent to 11.23 billion kronor largely thanks to an 18-percent hike in passenger numbers, meaning the airline transported 1.1 million passengers more than in the same quarter in 2010.

"The second quarter of 2011 was the strongest since 2008 and in recent months we have achieved record levels for the load factor, noted increased customer satisfaction and are once again Europe's most punctual airline," Rickard Gustafson, who took over as chief executive in February, said in the earnings statement.

SAS, in which Denmark, Norway and Sweden together own 50 percent, has been struggling for years to face growing competition from several new low-cost players in the market.

Gustafson said Wednesday the company's harsh cost-cutting measures since 2009, entailing nearly 5,000 layoffs, had paid off, pushing costs down 23 percent since 2008.

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