Virus-stricken airline SAS secures new public loan from Denmark and Sweden

Sweden and Denmark will issue a new loan of almost 300 million euros ($366 million) to Scandinavian airline SAS to keep it afloat through the coronavirus crisis, the company said Wednesday.

Virus-stricken airline SAS secures new public loan from Denmark and Sweden
SAS aircraft on the ground in Stockholm. Photo: Tt News Agency/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix

If approved by EU competition authorities, the cash infusion from its biggest shareholders will “create a liquidity buffer… a complement to other ongoing activities at SAS to reduce costs and strengthen liquidity,” the carrier said in a statement.

Expected to reveal further losses when it publishes results for its February-April quarter on Thursday, SAS has already slashed 5,000 jobs — or 40 percent of its workforce.

The new loan of 3.0 billion Swedish kronor follows a slightly larger credit of 3.3 billion in May last year, while a recapitalisation scheme launched in August saw Copenhagen and Stockholm expand their shareholdings.

Sweden and Denmark now each own 21.8 percent of SAS, up from 14.8 percent and 14.2 percent before the pandemic.

READ ALSO: Sweden and Denmark dig deeper to save SAS

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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.