Pilots’ strike contributes to heavy losses for SAS

Ailing Scandinavian carrier SAS, which filed for bankruptcy protection in the United States in July, widened its losses in the third quarter after a pilot strike, the company said Friday.

Stock photo of parked SAS planes.
SAS said that a pilots' strike contributed to heavy losses for the firm. File photo: SAS planes are pictured at Arlanda airport, north of Stockholm. Photo by Jonathan Nackstrand/ AFP.

The airline posted a net loss of 1.84 billion kronor ($170 million) for the May-July period, compared to a loss of 1.33 billion kronor a year earlier.

Earnings were “severely affected” by the 15-day pilot strike between July 4-19, which led to the cancellation of some 4,000 flights affecting more than 380,000 passengers, the company said in a statement.

However, “overall underlying demand for travel was healthy during the summer quarter” and SAS registered an increasing number of passengers as Covid restrictions were lifted across the globe.

Revenue more than doubled during the quarter, to 8.58 billion kronor from 3.98 billion kronor a year earlier.

The company said it was “cautious” in its outlook for the coming quarter “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”, it said.

READ ALSO: Airline Norwegian gets post-Covid boost to profits and passenger numbers

SAS management announced a savings plan in February aimed at ensuring the survival of the company, including cost-cutting of 7.5 billion kronor and dubbed “SAS Forward”.

The pilot strike, which cost the carrier between $9 million and $12 million a day, was a protest against salary cuts demanded by management as part of the restructuring plan.

SAS Forward was supplemented in June by a plan to increase capital by nearly one billion euros ($1.04 billion).

Earlier this month, SAS said it had secured a $700 million loan, entering into a debtor-in-possession (DIP) financing credit agreement with funds managed by Apollo Global Management.

Denmark and Sweden are SAS’ biggest shareholders with 21.8-percent stakes each.

SAS employs around 7,000 people, mainly in Denmark, Norway and Sweden. It has suffered a string of losses since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020.

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UK warns arrivals from Europe to ‘expect delays’ due to border force strike

The UK government has warned that people arriving into the country from Europe over Christmas should expect delays and disruption as border guards go on strike from Friday.

UK warns arrivals from Europe to 'expect delays' due to border force strike

The UK Border Force begins a strike on Friday, December 23rd, that is expected to cause major delays and disruption at airports and some ports.

Travellers were warned in a statement: “While the government is taking action to minimise disruption, travellers due to arrive in the UK over the Christmas period are warned to expect delays and disruption over the strike action affecting border control.

“Passengers should be prepared for longer wait times and should check with their travel agents, tour operators and airlines/carriers about possible disruptions to their journey prior to travelling.

“Our eGates will continue to function as per normal and we encourage all those eligible to use them to do so, as the quickest and most efficient way to pass through border control.”

The Public and Commercial Services Union, which represents the majority of border staff at airports, has called a strike between December 23rd and 31st, not including December 27th.

READ ALSO Do UK border strikes affect ferries, trains and the Channel Tunnel?

It is part of a wave of strikes hitting the UK as workers including nurses, paramedics, postal staff and rail workers strike for pay rises to help them cope with the soaring cost of living.

The disruption is expected to be concentrated at airports, although the ferry port of Newhaven is also affected, and is likely to lead to extremely long queues at passport control – some are predicting waits of up to 10 hours.

Affected sites are; Birmingham Airport, Cardiff Airport, Gatwick Airport, Glasgow Airport, Heathrow Airport – Terminals 2,3,4,5, Manchester Airport and Port of Newhaven.

It could also cause some flight cancellations and delays if passengers are not able to disembark at UK airports – travellers are advised to check with their airline before going to the airport.

The UK government has drafted in some members of the military to help run passport control, but this is likely to be a very limited service. 

Those travelling to the UK should also be aware of significant disruption on the railways, also due to strike action. 

You can find full details of travel between France and the UK HERE, or head to Local sites in Germany, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Austria and Denmark for the latest on travel.