Pilots’ strike contributes to heavy losses for SAS

Ailing Scandinavian carrier SAS, which filed for bankruptcy protection in the United States in July, widened its losses in the third quarter after a pilot strike, the company said Friday.

Stock photo of parked SAS planes.
SAS said that a pilots' strike contributed to heavy losses for the firm. File photo: SAS planes are pictured at Arlanda airport, north of Stockholm. Photo by Jonathan Nackstrand/ AFP.

The airline posted a net loss of 1.84 billion kronor ($170 million) for the May-July period, compared to a loss of 1.33 billion kronor a year earlier.

Earnings were “severely affected” by the 15-day pilot strike between July 4-19, which led to the cancellation of some 4,000 flights affecting more than 380,000 passengers, the company said in a statement.

However, “overall underlying demand for travel was healthy during the summer quarter” and SAS registered an increasing number of passengers as Covid restrictions were lifted across the globe.

Revenue more than doubled during the quarter, to 8.58 billion kronor from 3.98 billion kronor a year earlier.

The company said it was “cautious” in its outlook for the coming quarter “due to the prevailing uncertainties around the world”.

“Traffic to and from Asia remains affected by Covid-19 restrictions as well as by the geopolitical situation”, it said.

READ ALSO: Airline Norwegian gets post-Covid boost to profits and passenger numbers

SAS management announced a savings plan in February aimed at ensuring the survival of the company, including cost-cutting of 7.5 billion kronor and dubbed “SAS Forward”.

The pilot strike, which cost the carrier between $9 million and $12 million a day, was a protest against salary cuts demanded by management as part of the restructuring plan.

SAS Forward was supplemented in June by a plan to increase capital by nearly one billion euros ($1.04 billion).

Earlier this month, SAS said it had secured a $700 million loan, entering into a debtor-in-possession (DIP) financing credit agreement with funds managed by Apollo Global Management.

Denmark and Sweden are SAS’ biggest shareholders with 21.8-percent stakes each.

SAS employs around 7,000 people, mainly in Denmark, Norway and Sweden. It has suffered a string of losses since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020.

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Scandinavian airline SAS plans to launch electric planes in 2028 

Despite a number of economic challenges, airline SAS has announced an agreement with a Swedish company that will enable it to purchase electric aircraft and add them to its fleet. 

Scandinavian airline SAS plans to launch electric planes in 2028 

SAS has signed an agreement with Swedish company Heart Aerospace that could see it operating electric planes from 2028, the airline said in a press statement.

The model of plane that SAS would purchase from Heart Aerospace seats 30 passengers and has a range of 200 kilometers, SAS wrote.

“Along with the entire industry, we are responsible for making air travel more sustainable,” CEO of SAS Anko van der Werff said in the statement.

“SAS is dedicated to transforming air travel so future generations can continue to connect the world and enjoy the benefits of travel – but with a more sustainable footprint,” he said.

The aircraft will be installed with a hybrid system enabling them to double their range, SAS wrote.

“This has the potential to be a significant step on SAS’ sustainability journey, enabling zero-emission flights on routes within Scandinavia,” the press release stated. 

SAS has previously been involved in the development of another electric aircraft, the ES-30, which it partnered with Heart Aerospace on in 2019.

“The electric airplane will be a good supplement to our existing fleet, serving shorter routes in Denmark, Norway and Sweden in a more sustainable way,” van der Werff said.

READ MORE: SAS cancels 1,700 flights in September and October