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SAS shares plummet after analysts warn it risks going bankrupt

An analyst report predicting that SAS is on the brink of bankruptcy sent the Scandinavian airline's share plunging more than 25 percent.

a SAS flight
A Norwegian report suggested that SAS will have to undergo restructuring to avoid bankruptcy. Photo: Tony Webster/Flickr.com

The dramatic fall came after analysts at Norwegian bank DNB updated their sell recommendation, noting that the company’s debts of 40 billion kronor ($4.35 billion) are “unsustainable” and that “restructuring” is “needed to avoid bankruptcy”.

Since the start of the pandemic the airline has lost around 80 percent of its market value.

While many of the Covid-19 restrictions that have plagued the airline industry have now been lifted, SAS ran into new troubles in recent days when a baggage handler strike in Copenhagen caused delays and cancelled flights.

In 2020, the ailing airline cut 5,000 jobs – representing 40 percent of its workforce – and in May 2021 announced a credit line of three billion kronor ($350 million) from the Danish and Swedish governments, its main shareholders, to get through the crisis.

The company has received billions in financial support from the Swedish and Danish state, the two main owners.

In October last year, the airline said it was fighting to change the company “so that we have a future”.

The company is scheduled to publish on February 22nd its earnings for the three months ending in December.

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SAS

Scandinavian airline SAS passenger numbers ‘highest since pandemic’

The number of passengers who flew with Scandinavian airline SAS in April was far higher than during the same month in 2021.

Scandinavian airline SAS passenger numbers 'highest since pandemic'

Over 1.5 million flew with SAS last month, around four times as many as in April 2020 when Covid-19 restrictions were still in broad effect.

SAS still has some way to go to return to the number of passengers it registered before spring 2020, the “pre-pandemic” period for the hard-hit industry.

The airline was affected by a pilots’ strike in April 2019 which affected results for that month, but 2.5 million people flew with SAS in April 2018, demonstrating how the airline is still lagging behind earlier years despite the apparent recovery.

“We continue the ramp-up and see the highest number of passengers since March 2020,” president and CEO of SAS Anko van der Werff said in a press statement.

“Looking forward, sales and booking trends are positive for the summer period ahead,” he added.

SAS’ capacity in April was around two-thirds of its capacity in 2018.

“SAS is a bit more restrained in increasing its capacity than many of its competitors,” aviation sector analyst Jacob Pedersen of Sydbank told news wire Ritzau.

The company faces a challenge to make as much profit from its services as it did before the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Pedersen.

“The snapshot image of the trend in April is certainly encouraging but a closer analysis gives less cause for encouragement,” he said.

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