SAS remains in the red as pandemic squeezes airlines
Scandinavian airline SAS reported Thursday a wider quarterly loss, driven by the Covid-19 pandemic, but said it hoped things would improve in the summer as vaccines roll out.
Published: 25 February 2021 13:47 CET
An SAS plane at Oslo's Gardermoen airport in December. Photo: Stian Lysberg Solum/NTB/TT
For its first quarter — November to January — SAS booked a net loss of 2.05 billion Swedish kronor ($249 million, 204 million euros), compared to a loss of 861 million Swedish kronor a year earlier, the company said.
Revenue, reflecting the drop in traffic, plunged 77 percent year-on-year to 2.28 billion Swedish kronor.
The number of passengers fell to just under one million, over five million less than the same period a year before and a drop of 900,000 compared to the preceding quarter.
The carrier has already laid off 5,000 staff — 40 percent of its workforce — having in March furloughed 90 percent.
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.