SAS saw the highest number of passengers since the pandemic during the latest quarter but will cut around 4,000 flights this summer as the airline and wider travel industry struggles to meet surging demand.

The Scandinavian carrier said it was in the process of ramping up services but warned about difficulties in “rebuilding operations” after two years that have been heavily impacted by Covid.

Transformation plan

SAS added that it was pushing ahead with its transformation plan, titled SAS FORWARD, which is designed to secure the airline’s long-term competitiveness and involves reducing annual costs by SEK 7.5 billion.

“The aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic has led to most of the airline industry experiencing difficulty in rebuilding operations,” the carrier said in a statement.

“This has led to SAS reducing its summer programme by 4,000 of a total of 75,000 flights.”

Improving load factors

SAS said air travel demand improved as restrictions were eased over the period from February to April this year.

Passengers flying with SAS increased 28 per cent compared to the previous quarter and the flown load factor reached approximately 67 per cent, up 11 percentage points compared with the earlier quarter. SAS’ capacity was increased by 3 per cent compared to the first quarter.

80% capacity vs 2019

The airline statement added: “The transformation of SAS has to continue to adapt to the new market conditions in order to be able to remain flexible, competitive and financially strong for the long-term future.

“Earnings before tax ended at negative SEK 1.6 billion, an improvement of SEK 1.0 billion compared with last quarter, or a SEK 0.7 billion improvement year-on-year.

“Ticket sales continue to increase ahead of the summer period and SAS is targeting 80 per cent capacity deployment compared to summer 2019.”

Subscribe to the FINN weekly newsletter