SAS May Traffic Up, International Routes Improving

June 7, 2010

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Scandinavian airline SAS posted a 4 percent rise in May traffic from a year earlier, as travel picked up in its home market and some international routes began showing signs of improvement.

SAS said on Monday there were signs of recovery on routes to Asia and some destinations in the United States and Europe, though the market remained unpredictable and yield development uncertain.

Its passenger load factor rose 4.1 percentage points year-on-year to 75.6 percent in the month.

"A bit better than I had expected... it's fairly good news," said Jacob Pederson, an analyst at Sydbank. "I think its positive that SAS is even better in their load factors, improving them quite significantly."

SAS's comments came as the International Air Transport Association said it now expects global airlines to report a USD$2.5 billion profit this year, an improvement of more than USD$5 billion from its forecast of a loss just three months ago.

SAS, under pressure to streamline its business in the wake of a rights issue last year, saw traffic plummet in April as the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud halted air travel around Europe for nearly a week.

Partly due to lingering effects from the disruptions in April, SAS's key yield measure fell 6.6 percent in May, suggesting it still needs to improve the profitability of each seat compared with its cost in fuel and maintenance.

(Reuters)