SAS, hit by strikes and Chapter 11, prepares to recruit staff for summer 2023

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SAS is preparing to take on substantially more staff for summer 2023, expecting an increase in demand.  

Many airlines in Europe and around the world have struggled to rehire staff fast enough to meet the resurgence in travel demand following the COVID-19 pandemic. SAS is one of those airlines which cut flights over the summer, reducing its summer program by 4,000 of a total of 75,000 flights. 

“Looking ahead to the next summer season we are preparing for substantial recruitments and rehirings [sic] that will be initiated in order to meet the expected increased future demand,” it said in a third quarter results statement published on August 26, 2022. 

First, the carrier has to continue with its Chapter 11 restructuring process and get through winter 2022/23, which he said it remained more cautious on, especially in light of traffic restrictions in Asia, which are important long-haul markets for the European airline.  

“We are soon entering the winter season, and we remain cautious due to the prevailing uncertainties around the world. Traffic to and from Asia remains affected by COVID-19 restrictions as well as by the geopolitical situation,” SAS said.  

How much profit did SAS make in Q3? 

For the three months to July 31, 2022, revenue at SAS more than doubled from the year-ago period to SEK8.58 billion ($809 million), thanks to the pick-up in demand.  

It said passenger numbers increased 30% in comparison with the second quarter and load factors, how full its planes are, increased 11 percentage points to 78%. SAS carried the highest number of passengers since the start of the pandemic, it added.  

However, it made a loss before tax of SEK1.99 billion ($188 million), higher than last year’s loss of SEK1.33 billion ($125 million), mainly due to a 15-day pilot strike, which forced the cancelation of 4,000 flights.     

“Ticket sales ahead of the important summer season were strong but leveled off as we approached the potential start of the strike which eventually was initiated in July,” SAS commented in the Q3 statement. “The strike impacted on the overall level of tickets sold during the summer. We will now continue to work hard on rebuilding confidence in SAS and to provide our customers with the service they expect.” 

The third quarter also saw SAS file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the United States in a bid to speed up restructuring. Under the process, SAS is aiming to restructure its debt, reconfigure its fleet and raise fresh funds. The airline said it hopes to raise equity in the first half of 2023 and exit the court-supervised process within 9-12 months from July 2022.   

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