Scandinavian Airlines: slow return to travel despite vaccine

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STOCKHOLM (AP) — Scandinavian Airlines says the outlook for travel in 2021 remains bleak and a recovery in flight traffic from the pandemic will be slow, even if the upcoming roll-out of coronavirus vaccines provides hope.

The airline, which is known as SAS and is partially owned by the governments of Sweden and Denmark, reported Thursday a net loss of 2.6 billion kronor ($307 million) for the August-October quarter. Sales declined by nearly 80% to 3.0 billion kronor.

SAS didn’t provide financial targets or forecasts for the coming year but expected uncertain demand “even though we’re encouraged by the recent progress related to the development and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.”

“However, we expect weak operating cash flow in the first quarter of 2021 due to low demand during the winter season combined with accelerated refunds (to customers),” CEO Rickard Gustafson said in a statement.

Like many major airlines, SAS has been in financial distress during the pandemic. Earlier this year, the company’s shareholders agreed on an aid package worth 14.25 billion kronor ($1.7 billion), securing the carrier’s survival.

SAS said Thursday that it was expecting the recovery for the airline industry to last until 2022, with “a return to pre-COVID-19 levels a few years thereafter.”

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April 29 2021 07:00 pm