STOCKHOLM (Reuters) -SAS’s loss for the August-October quarter narrowed from a year earlier as air travel picked up but the carrier warned the new Omicron coronavirus variant added uncertainty.
The airline, part-owned by the governments of Sweden and Denmark, reported a fourth-quarter loss before tax of 945 million Swedish crowns ($104 million) versus a year-earlier loss of 3.25 billion.
SAS said in a statement ticket sales were increasing but that uncertainties continued to affect the ramp-up of business.
“We remain cautious due to prevailing uncertainties, but see that underlying demand is healthy once restrictions are lifted, both for business and leisure travel,” it said.
“The short-term effect of recent developments needs yet to be fully analysed, however we remain optimistic for the peak periods ahead of us.”
CEO Anko van der Werff told Reuters a rise in sales over the Black Friday weekend made it difficult to analyse data to tell whether Omicron had begun to have an effect on demand.
“But, no-one likes uncertainty, so that’s the challenge,” he said in an interview.
He said it was too early to tell how Omicron would affect SAS and that the company was sticking to its plan to ramp up its operations this year to 80% of pre-pandemic 2019.
“We have to remain agile but our plan is going back to that for the summer.”
The uncertainty about the new variant has triggered global alarm, casting a shadow over the economic recovery from the pandemic.
($1 = 9.0760 Swedish crowns)
(Reporting by Anna Ringstrom; editing by Niklas Pollard and Jason Neely)