Cost cuts cushion quarterly loss for airline SAS

Airline SAS' Q2 loss shrinks as pandemic pains linger
Airline SAS' Q2 loss shrinks as pandemic pains linger   -   Copyright  (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2021. Click For Restrictions -   -  
By Reuters

<div> <p>By Anna Ringstrom</p> <p><span class="caps">STOCKHOLM</span> -Airline <span class="caps">SAS</span> reported on Thursday yet another deep quarterly loss due to the <span class="caps">COVID</span>-19 pandemic but said vaccinations provided some hope for looser travel restrictions and higher demand heading into the summer season. </p> <p>The pandemic has seen air travel collapse, plunging the industry into crisis. <span class="caps">SAS</span>, whose biggest owners are the states of Sweden and Denmark, in 2020 agreed a 14 billion Swedish crown ($1.7 billion) recapitalisation plan to help keep it going.</p> <p><span class="caps">SAS</span>’ fiscal second-quarter loss before tax was 2.36 billion crowns ($284 million) against a year-earlier 3.72 billion loss. Costs were 54% lower than a year ago, limiting the loss as sales tumbled to 1.93 billion crowns from 5.26 billion. </p> <p>“Infection, delayed vaccinations and continued stringent travel restrictions have led to a slower than hoped for recovery,” acting Chief Executive Karl Sandlund said in a statement.</p> <p>“However, <span class="caps">SAS</span> is ready to welcome our customers back on board as travel restrictions ease ahead of the important summer season.”</p> <p><span class="caps">SAS</span> said that for the summer it was opening 180 direct routes and increasing capacity on domestic routes in Scandinavia. </p> <p>“The uncertainty around the pandemic means many customers book their tickets with shorter notice, which makes it a bit harder for us to predict the summer. But we do see higher forward bookings than we did earlier in the spring,” Sandlund told Reuters. </p> <p>The company on Wednesday said it had secured loan guarantees totalling 3 billion crowns from Sweden and Denmark as a liquidity buffer complementing ongoing activities to lower costs and strengthen liquidity.</p> <p>Sandlund said in an interview that <span class="caps">SAS</span> has enough liquidity and that the new guarantees constituted extra security ahead of potential further waves of the pandemic. </p> <p><span class="caps">SAS</span> has appointed Anko Van der Werff as new chief executive from July after its previous <span class="caps">CEO</span> resigned in January. Van der Werff leaves the top job at Colombia’s struggling Avianca Holdings.</p> <p>Shares in <span class="caps">SAS</span> were up 1.5% at 0740 <span class="caps">GMT</span>, taking a year-to-date rise to 6%. ($1 = 8.3048 Swedish crowns)</p> </div>