SAS Airline announces shake-up after multi-billion kroner loss

Lena Hunter
February 23rd, 2022

This article is more than 1 year old.

The Danish-owned flight company promised a “complete transformation”, slashing costs, selling shares and inventing a whole new type of aviation fuel. Are they overstretching?

On Tuesday morning, the airline SAS – in which the Swedish and Danish states own 14.82 and 14.24 percent respective stakes – announced a 1.7 billion kroner loss for the period from November 2021 to January 2022.

The company has presented an ambitious plan dubbed ‘SAS Forward’ to reverse the trend.

A “complete transformation”
“If no fundamental changes are made, SAS will quickly deplete its financial reserves. Therefore, we will proactively implement a complete business transformation of our network, fleet, agreements and other cost structures,” read the airline’s public statement.

SAS has pledged to cut annual expenditure by 5.2 billion kroner, while raising new capital. That means converting company debt into shares, according to Simon Pauck Hansen, the head of SAS Denmark.

‘SAS Forward’ aims to position SAS as a “leader in sustainable aviation”, Hansen elaborated. So, together with fuel giants Vattenfall and Shell, along with Swedish carbon-recycling company LanzaTech, the airline will “investigate the production of the world’s first synthetic aviation fuel”.

… or a scrambling recovery
Like most airlines, SAS saw its profits tank during the pandemic. With its slew of routes between business hubs in the Nordics, wider Europe and America, the decrease in business travellers caused more financial harm than the fall in tourist numbers.

Compounding SAS’s woes have been the multitude of strikes and internal employee conflicts, as well as the eyewatering price of aviation fuel, which has skyrocketed by 174 percent.

A final bad omen: the ‘SAS Forward’ announcement comes a week after equity experts at Norwegian investment bank DNB Markets voiced concerns that SAS could face bankruptcy without a company-wide restructure.


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