SAS February Traffic Figures Down Double Digits From January

Even though there is a faint glimmer of a recovery in the number of people flying now that COVID-19 vaccines are being rolled out, Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) traffic figures are down double digits from January. During February, SAS carried 225,000 passengers, a decrease of 20% compared to a month earlier and down 89% yearly.

SAS Airbus A350
SAS sees passenger numbers decline in February. Photo: SAS
Meanwhile, the Nordic airline continued to adapt to capacity (ASK) due to decreased demand. Compared to the previous month, ASK declined 16%, a number almost 81% lower than the same period in 2020.

Restrictions put pressure on demand

When speaking about February’s passenger numbers in a statement released yesterday that was seen by Simple Flying, SAS CEO Rickard Gustafson said:

“The travel restrictions continue to put pressure on demand, which has resulted in further adjustment of offered destinations and departures in February. Strong demand for cargo services has enabled SAS to maintain parts of its intercontinental production, though this has resulted in a low overall passenger load factor of 26%. However, the load factor for our Scandinavian and European operations has stabilized at around 40% and even increased 4 percentage points for the month compared with January.”

SAS CEO Rickard Gustafson
SAS CEO Rickard Gustafson. Photo: SAS

The figures

SAS scheduled traffic Feb21 Change1 Nov20- Feb21 Change1
ASK (Mill.) 673 -79.7% 3 421 -75.7%
RPK (Mill.) 173 -91.9% 978 -89.7%
Passenger load factor 25.8% -39.3 p u 28.6% -39.1 p u
No. of passengers (000) 225 -88.7% 1 223 -84.9%
Geographical development, schedule Feb21           vs.          Feb20 Nov20- Feb21   vs.   Nov19-Feb20
Intercontinental -97.6% -72.7% -96.6% -78.9%
Europe/Intrascandinavia -95.2% -91.4% -91.8% -85.2%
Domestic -77.1% -65.2% -71.2% -47.7%
SAS charter traffic Feb21 Change1 Nov20- Feb21 Change1
ASK (Mill.) 6 -97.0% 26 -96.2%
RPK (Mill.) 2 -98.7% 10 -98.4%
Load factor 38.5% -52.9 p u 38.2% -53.9 p u
No. of passengers (000) 1 -99.1% 3 -98.7%
SAS total traffic (scheduled and charter) Feb21 Change1 Nov20- Feb21 Change1
ASK (Mill.) 678 -80.6% 3 447 -76.6%
RPK (Mill.) 176 -92.4% 988 -90.3%
Load factor 25.9% -40.6 p u 28,7% -40.1 p u
No. of passengers (000) 225 -89.0% 1 226 -85.3%

1 Change compared to the same period last year. p u = percentage units

COVID-19 mutations are the new worry

Currently, the worry surrounding COVID-19 is a growing concern about new mutations of the coronavirus that is causing governments worldwide to implement stricter travel restrictions than we saw in the spring of 2020. Because of the ever-changing situation, SAS is forced to adapt capacity to meet a weak demand.

SAS engine
SAS is hoping that COVID-19 vaccinations will get people flying again. Photo: SAS

On a brighter note, SAS feels that moving forward, there is a pent-up need to travel and as more people get vaccinated, it should be easier for governments to ease restrictions. With this in mind, SAS plans to restart 180 routes for summer 2021, mainly within Scandanavia, and Europe provided that travel restrictions are lifted.

SAS is flexible with ticket rules

To gain public confidence during these uncertain times, SAS has introduced flexible ticketing rules that include rebooking alternatives. In a statement published on February 25 that was seen by Simple Flying, the Solna, Sweden-headquartered airline says there no restrictions apply for rebooking or canceling Plus tickets. In addition to this, tickets for international travel can be rebooked free of charge up to three days before departure.

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Like every other airline worldwide, SAS hopes that vaccinations will be the key to getting people to fly again. If proof of being vaccinated is all you will need to fly, we could see a bumper summer in air travel.

What do you think about SAS’ February numbers, and do you think they will improve as the year progresses? Please tell us what you think in the comments.