SAS shares jump as airline returns to profit

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.

SAS shares jump as airline returns to profit

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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‘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.