SAS posts first full-year profit since 2007

Scandinavian airline SAS reported its first full-year profit (closing in October) since 2007 on Thursday, thanks to lower costs and despite the increasing pressure on flight ticket prices.

The net profit of 178 million kronor (20 million euros, $27 million) contrasts with 3.01 billion in losses one year earlier and revenue fell by 0.5 percent to 42.182 billion kronor.

"As a result of the vigorous measures implemented under the change programme, the weaker income trend could be partially offset by lower costs," the company said in a statement.

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SAS launched a drastic cost-cutting programme in the beginning of the fiscal year including asset sales and salary reductions.

"We are glad to announce that SAS is now delivering on the promises of a positive result for the full fiscal year," the company said on Twitter.

The airline highlighted its positive fourth quarter results -- a 352 million kronor profit compared to the 574 million kronor losses a year eariler -- despite "a weak economic trend and intensified competition".

The revenue for the period was almost unchanged at 11.059 billion kronor.

The short-term outlook remains challenging for the company.

"The weaker conditions are expected to continue and, as usual, due to seasonality, the first quarter of 2013/2014 (November-January), will be extremely weak," SAS said.

The asset sales behind the company's profit could hardly be repeated in the future and the airline now believes that "the financial targets expected to be reached in 2014/2015 will not now be reached until 2015/2016".

The group sold 80 percent of Norwegian regional airline Wideroee to Norwegian investors for two million kroner (230 million euros, $311 million) in September, and in November sold 10 percent of its ground handling to Swiss specialist Swissport for an undisclosed figure.

In 2014, the airline expects to open 43 new routes.

50 percent of SAS is owned by the Swedish, Norwegian and Danish states, which have expressed their interest in selling their share if a good opportunity arises.

Last September, Germany's Lufthansa chief executive Christoph Franz said that he "could consider" a possible SAS buyout.



by Richard INGHAM © 2013 AFP

Source: AFP
Date: Dec 19, 2013