Swedish-Danish airline SAS said that it expects demand to return to more normalised levels next year after it recorded a larger first quarter loss than in the prior year due to the hit on air travel from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The spread of COVID-19 and related restrictions have seen air travel collapse over the past year, plunging the global airline industry into crisis and leaving carriers scrambling to secure funds to weather the slump.
SAS completed a capital raise in late 2020 after a year of deep losses and hopes that the roll-out of vaccines will provide some relief later this year.
Get a FREE Digital Subscription!Enjoy full access to Hospitality Ireland, our weekly email news digest, all website and app content, and every digital issue.
"The development of vaccines and vaccination programs provide hope that restrictions will ease and that we will see an increase in travel toward summer 2021," SAS said in a statement.
SAS said that demand will most likely remain "highly limited" before reaching more normalised levels in 2022.
"SAS is monitoring global vaccination developments closely in order to be ready to quickly increase capacity when conditions permit," SAS chief executive Rickard Gustafson said.
The company, which is seeking a new CEO after Gustafson announced his resignation in January to take the helm at bearings maker SKF, said that it plans to open 180 direct routes for the summer, mainly within Scandinavia and Europe, provided that restrictions allowed for travel.
Pre-tax losses in the November-January quarter deepened to 1.94 billion crowns ($235 million) from a year-earlier 1.09 billion loss as sales slumped to 2.28 billion from 9.71 billion.
The company is bracing for a post-pandemic scenario with less business travel than before.
"Greater Requirements On Flexibility And Seasonal Departures"
"The passenger mix will have an increased share of leisure travellers in the future, which places even greater requirements on flexibility and seasonal adaptations to our operations," SAS said.
News by Reuters, edited by Hospitality Ireland. Click subscribe to sign up for the Hospitality Ireland print edition.