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Pandemic pushes airline SAS to $235.8 million loss in May-July

Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) Airbus A320 planes are parked at the Copenhagen Airport in Kaastrup, Denmark, on March 15, 2020.
Johan Nilsson | AFP | Getty Images

Airline SAS swung to deep loss in its fiscal third quarter, it reported on Tuesday, as cost cuts did not make up for the collapse in air travel caused by the COVID-19 pandemic from which the industry is now slowly emerging.

The airline, part-owned by the governments of Sweden and Denmark, said losses before tax in the May-July period amounted to 2.07 billion Swedish crowns ($235.8 million), compared with a profit of 1.49 billion a year earlier.

Sales tumbled to 2.51 billion crowns from 13.4 billion.

"Demand continues to return slowly and in line with the estimated ramp-up plan we presented in the second quarter," CEO Rickard Gustafson said in a statement. 

"During the fourth quarter, we will continue to ramp-up production and we expect to reach 30%-40% of prior year available seat kilometers by the end of Q4," he said.

In June, the airline unveiled a 14 billion Swedish crown recapitalisation plan to recover from the effects of the pandemic on business and keep it flying.

But it has yet to shore up enough debtholder support for a key part of the plan -- debt conversions upon which main owners Sweden and Denmark have conditioned their pledges to inject fresh cash.