SAS earnings hit by Spanair bankruptcy

SAS earnings hit by Spanair bankruptcy
Scandinavian airline SAS said Wednesday it improved its operating profit last year but that it was dragged into loss as its former subsidiary Spanair filed for bankruptcy.

The airline, struggling to cut costs to remain competitive, said even despite the exceptional items it trimmed its losses last year to 1.69 billion kronor ($253 million) from 2.22 billion kronor in 2010.

Operating profit before exceptional items, such as the 1.7 billion kronor charge for the stake it still had in Spanair, came in at 94 million kronor, compared to an operating loss of 444 million kronor in 2010.

In the fourth quarter alone, during which the Spanair charge was booked, the airline suffered a loss of 2.2 billion kronor.

Sales increased 0.8 percent in 2011 to 41 billion kronor.

Excluding the effects of Spanair “we delivered marginally positive earnings,” CEO Rickard Gustafson said in a statement.

He said that despite increasing competition and weakening economic trends, SAS managed healthy growth and record cabin loads during the peak summer months while scoring its highest customer ratings in over a decade.

Gustafson said that given the current economic weakness plus uncertainty over fuel prices, SAS would accelerate its cost-cutting programme and was seeking five billion kronor in savings and new revenue in 2012.

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