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Sweden and Denmark plough billions into SAS rescue

Scandinavian airline SAS on Tuesday unveiled a plan to raise around 12 billion Swedish kronor ($1.3 billion or 1.1 billion euros) in new funds to deal with the impact of coronavirus.

Sweden and Denmark plough billions into SAS rescue
Flight technicians prepare the last of 25 SAS aircraft for long-term parking at Oslo Airport in Gardermoen, amid the new coronavirus pandemic. Photo: Håkon Mosvold Larsen/NTB Scanpix / AFP
The plan will see the Danish and Swedish state, two of the three largest shareholders, increase their ownership from about 14 percent to 20 percent, and will result in a 14.25 billion Swedish kronor boost to the airline's equity. 
   
In mid-June, SAS said it needed 12.5 billion in new funding as part of its recapitalisation plan, and the government of Sweden said it was ready to inject five billion kronor into the company. The Danish government also announced it was willing to support the ailing airline but did not give a figure.
 
Carsten Dilling, chair of the SAS Board of Directors, said in a press release that the plan was “a balanced way forward given the magnitude of the recapitalisation and the conditional burden sharing measures”. 
 
Along with planned cost-cutting, he said the funding would enable the company to “withstand this crisis and return as a profitable and sustainable Scandinavian infrastructure provider”.

 
SAS said it does not expect demand for travel to return to pre-coronavirus levels before 2022.
 
“We expect demand to remain low both in 2020 and 2021. It won't be before 2022 that it is back again,” the airline's chief executive Rickard Gustafson told Sweden's TT newswire. “That's why we need this money.” 
 
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Like many airlines, SAS has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic and announced in mid-March it was temporarily laying off 90 percent of its workforce.
   
Since then, the company has announced it will be cutting 1,900 full-time positions in Sweden, 1,300 in Norway, and 1,600 in Denmark, accounting for some 40 percent of the company's staff.
   
Shares in SAS were down more than 10 percent on the Stockholm stock exchange following the plan's unveiling.

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COVID-19

Did Sweden’s state epidemiologist really get a big job at the WHO?

For his supporters, it was well-deserved, for his detractors a case of failing upwards. But when Sweden's Public Health Agency announced this month that state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell was taking a job at the World Health Organisation, both sides assumed it was true.

Did Sweden's state epidemiologist really get a big job at the WHO?

Now, it seems, the job might not be there after all. 

At the start of this month, Sweden’s Public Health Agency announced that Anders Tegnell was resigning to take up a post coordinating vaccine work with the World Health Organisation in Geneva. 

“I’ve worked with vaccines for 30 years and have at the same time always been inspired by international issues,” Tegnell said in the release. “Now I will have the chance to contribute to this comprehensive international work.”

During the first and second waves of the Covid-19 pandemic, Tegnell shot immediately from obscurity into the spotlight, gaining such celebrity status in Sweden that one fan had his profile tattooed onto his arm.

Internationally he was hailed by lockdown sceptics for his reasoned arguments against overly restrictive measures to control the spread of the virus. 

His new WHO appointment was reported all over the world. 

But on Tuesday, the Svenska Daglabdet newspaper revealed that the job had not yet been awarded. A spokesperson for the WHO said at a press conference in Geneva that “there is some confusion”, and that “this is an internal question.” 

According to the newspaper, there is even “a certain level of irritation” behind the scenes at the WHO that Sweden acted too soon and dispatched Tegnell to a job that did not actually exist yet. 

“We have received an offer from Sweden, which is still under discussion,” the organisation’s press spokesperson, Fadela Chaib, told the newspaper. 

On Thursday, the Public Health Agency’s press chief Christer Janson conceded that there had been a mistake and that the negotiation had not been completed.  

“We believed it was done, but it wasn’t,” he told Expressen in an interview. “It’s been a much longer process to get this completed than we thought. There’s been a misunderstanding and we regret that.” 

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