“It's a sad day in SAS's history. Today we have had to say goodbye to a large number of loyal, esteemed and talented employees,” the airline's press officer Sille Beck-Hansen said in a written comment.
“The corona crisis has hit SAS with such force that we are now fighting for our survival.”
The airline on Monday emailed dismissal letters to 700 of its 1,200 cabin crew in Denmark, giving them between one and six month's notice, Christa Ceré, chair of the CAU air union, said.
“It's a lot of people and my members are in a bad situation. The whole industry is also affected, which is why you can't just apply for another job,” she said.
“Some have been more prepared than others, but you can't really prepare for such a message.”
SAS announced in April that it planned to 1,700 of its staff in Denmark, and the final number, which includes voluntary redundancies, is slightly fewer than feared.
Ceré said that employees had been given the option of converting the termination into a voluntary leave period of 24 months, which will keep them officially employed by SAS but without pay.
Ceré said that deciding to take leave rather than redundancy was a gamble for her members.
“We are confident that it [demand for flights] will come up again. The question is just how long it will take,” she said. “It's still a tough decision. If you choose to accept the possibility of leave, you are without pay from the first [of July].”
The Danish shipping and logistics company DFDS also announced on Monday that it would lay off some 200 people.