Finally an upswing for SAS

SAS may have hit bottom because for the first time since December 2002, the Scandinavian company can enjoy an increase in the number of passengers.

According to numbers SAS presented Monday, the passenger traffic increased with 1.2 percent in August compared with the same period last year.

For the first time since December 2002, the SAS group presents positive numbers in regard to passengers for both this spring and summer, which generally have been affected by a stale market.

“This is pleasant. We see an increase on the European routes as a result of the focus on Snowflake, which offers low price tickets. Besides that, we have seen positive numbers from both Braathens and Spanair,” said Sture Stølen, general manager for capital market relations at SAS, to TV 2 Nettavisen.

SAS is not only be pleased by the increased number of passengers, but also the passenger load factor has increased and is now at 69.9 percent.

However, SAS is less fortunate with the pay back. The average price per passenger (yield) is still declining.

“While the number of passengers and the passenger load factor indicated that we have hit bottom, we can still see that there is pressure on the yield. The reason for this is that prices on plane tickets have been on their way down across the board and people expect to pay less when they fly than they did before. This is something which we expect will continue in the future,” Stølen said.

The yield fell 14 percent in July compared to the same month last year for Scandinavian Airlines alone, while in the period January to July fell with 12 percent compared with the same time period last year.

SAS group carried 2.8 million passengers in August 2003. The number is 200,000 lower than in the same period last year, but this is due to cutting of routes and changes in the traffic system in general, according to SAS.

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