SAS pays price for pilot strikes with worst results in five years

SAS pays price for pilot strikes with worst results in five years
SAS said the poor results would necessitate cuts. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix
Scandinavian airline SAS has posted a significant downturn in its latest results, following a major pilots' strike earlier this year.

The company's turnover for financial year 2018/19 is 794 million Swedish kronor, 1.3 billion kronor lower than last year, Swedish news agency TT reports.

“There will be a lot of challenges to deal with in the future,” SAS CEO Rickard Gustafson told TT.

The figures come from results published on Thursday by the airline, which describes them as unsatisfactory.

“We are satisfied with the fourth quarter, but for the whole year we can be dissatisfied,” SAS Denmark director Simon Pauck Hansen told Ritzau.

The Danish news agency notes that the results are the worst for the company for five years.

“(The results are) due to the weak Swedish krona, high oil prices and strikes. That has affected our results negatively,” Hansen added.

SAS pilots went on strike for seven days in April and May, costing the company an estimated 635 million kronor (450 million Danish kroner).

The strikes, a result of disagreement between pilots and SAS over wages and working hours, caused 4,000 cancellations. A total of 370,000 passengers chose to travel with other airlines or not at all.

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SAS confirmed on Thursday that the poor results would necessitate the company to make savings.

That could mean reductions to administrative staff, although SAS said any decision is yet to be made in this regard.

“We are an industry which must make ongoing adjustments to improve efficiency to keep up with competitors,” Hansen said.

“We will continue to do this in the future,” he added.

Although 2020 is expected to be challenging, the company is bullish about its prospects.

“We expect the saturation we've seen signs of in 2019 to continue,” Hansen said.

“It's a more uncertain market and we're unsure how great demand from passengers will be.

“We don't expect a reduction in passengers, but growth won't be so big,” he added.

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