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.
Restrictions put pressure on demand
“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 scheduled traffic||Feb21||Change1||Nov20- Feb21||Change1|
|ASK (Mill.)||673||-79.7%||3 421||-75.7%|
|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|
|SAS charter traffic||Feb21||Change1||Nov20- Feb21||Change1|
|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%|
|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.
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.
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.