SAS is reopening 180 direct routes, but customers are waiting to order

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Few have suffered more than the airlines during the corona crisis, and SAS is no exception. The money has run out, around 95 per cent of the income is gone, and around 40 per cent of the employees have had to leave.

Now the company has launched promotional prices and expanded opportunities for cancellation, in the hope of speeding up the orders and more kroner into the coffers. So far to no avail, writes the Swedish newspaper Dagens Industri.

– Because there is uncertainty about restrictions and the spread of infection in general, many choose to wait. It has become increasingly important to offer customers flexibility, says SAS’s Swedish press manager, Freja Annamatz to Dagens Industri.

In the most recent quarterly report, the airline wrote that they expect a halving of the normal number of passengers this summer.

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– We are still not out of the pandemic, and we will probably have to wait until 2022 before we see a normal level of demand, Annamatz says.

SAS now plans to reopen 180 direct routes to locations around Europe this summer, provided that restrictions on destinations have eased by then.

Among the destinations that have already begun to welcome tourists on a smaller scale, we find the Spanish cities of Alicante and Malaga.

Norwegian has also been hit hard, but the airline did not want to comment on the development on Monday.

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Catastrophic

The corona year was a real catastrophic year for the airline SAS, and things have not looked much brighter in the beginning of 2021. For a period, it seemed to go towards full reopening, but in the new year, the infection has flourished around Europe, which has led more comprehensive measures, including travel bans in some places.

In the period from November last year to January this year, turnover ended at 2.3 billion Swedish kroner, down from 9.7 billion Swedish kroner in the same period the year before. Profit before tax was minus SEK 1.9 billion, compared with a loss of SEK 1.1 billion in the same period last year.

After the report from the first quarter, SAS CEO Rickard Gustafson told DN that he looked darker at the state of affairs.

– Everywhere, including in Norway, it has been tightened, and it has reduced demand to a minimum. It’s worse than I thought four to six months ago. On the other hand, we see that the vaccination is well underway, so I may have more hopes towards the summer for progress – that the countries dare to ease restrictions and allow us to travel, Gustafson said.

Before he added:

– I’m not naive, and do not think it will be a normal summer. But that in July and early August we may be up to half of what is normal in the summer.

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Airlines are born

While SAS and Norwegian have been in a stable side position through the pandemic and waiting for government financial support, a number of new airlines have been established.

Among them is Erik Braathens Flyr, which was listed on the Euronext Growth marketplace earlier this year. In connection with the listing, the company raised around NOK 600 million in a share issue, in which several well-known faces participated as cornerstone investors, including Øystein Stray Spetalen and Jan Petter Sissener.

– I think this is just the right timing. You have 5.5 million Norwegians who dream of being allowed to travel again and the others are completely down for counting, Sissener said in connection with the capital raising.

Bjørn Tore Larsen also recently launched a new airline called Norse Atlantic Airways. With him on the team, he has got the Norwegian founders Bjørn Kjos and Bjørn Kise. Together, they want to establish an airline that offers travel across the Atlantic at low prices – as Bjørn Kjos in his time dreamed of doing with Norwegian. The company has already signed a leasing agreement for nine Boeing aircraft, but it is also facing opposition in the US Congress.

At the same time as the new airlines are flying up, SAS will probably suffer from a pilot shortage that may affect an entire industry. According to a report from Oliver Wyman, which Dagens Industri refers to, there will be a global deficit of 34,000 pilots – a number that could increase to 50,000, if the reopening goes faster than first thought.

When asked by DI whether SAS can meet the demand, Annamatz answers the following:

– We get to follow how the development progresses. As soon as we have demand and a need, we will try to fly as much as possible, she says. (Terms)Copyright Dagens Næringsliv AS and / or our suppliers. We would like you to share our cases using a link, which leads directly to our pages. Copying or other form of use of all or part of the content, can only take place with written permission or as permitted by law. For further terms see here.

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