Airline SAS has recorded a quarterly loss.
SAS has recorded yet another deep quarterly loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but said that vaccinations provide some hope for looser travel restrictions and higher demand heading into the summer season.
The pandemic has seen air travel collapse, plunging the industry into crisis. In 2020, SAS, the biggest owners of which are the states of Sweden and Denmark, agreed a 14 billion Swedish crown plan to help keep it going.
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SAS's fiscal second quarter loss before tax was 2.36 billion crowns 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.
"Infection, delayed vaccinations and continued stringent travel restrictions have led to a slower than hoped for recovery," SAS acting chief executive Karl Sandlund said in a statement. "However, SAS is ready to welcome our customers back on board as travel restrictions ease ahead of the important summer season."
SAS said that for the summer it is opening 180 direct routes and increasing capacity on domestic routes in Scandinavia.
"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.
The company said that it has secured loan guarantees totalling three billion crowns from Sweden and Denmark as a liquidity buffer complementing ongoing activities to lower costs and strengthen liquidity.
Sandlund said in an interview that SAS has enough liquidity and that the new guarantees constitute extra security ahead of potential further waves of the pandemic.
SAS has appointed Anko Van der Werff as new chief executive from July after its previous CEO resigned in January. Van der Werff leaves the top job at Colombia's struggling Avianca Holdings.
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