SAS To Suspend Most Operations & Temporarily Lay Off 90% Of Its Staff

Scandinavian Airlines, also known as SAS, said this evening that it will temporarily halt most of its traffic starting tomorrow – Monday, March 16th. The suspension of the majority of its flights will be accompanied by temporary lay-offs for many of its staff.

SAS airbus getty images
SAS mainly serves Norway, Denmark and Sweden. Photo: Getty Images

90% of employees facing temporary lay-offs

According to Reuters, a source familiar with the issue said the flight suspensions would run “until there are yet again conditions to conduct commercial aviation”. The cuts in service could see as many as 10,000 employees temporarily laid-off. In fact, this would be 90% of the airline’s total workforce.

City AM also reports that the airline made the following statement:

“To support our customers, we will in the next few days do our utmost to uphold a certain level of operation to enable travellers to return from their destinations”. -SAS

SAS, Airbus A350 delivery
SAS only recently took delivery of its first Airbus A350. Photo: Airbus

Joining other airlines

Sadly SAS is joining an ever-growing list of airlines making significant cuts to their operations and their workforce. Just in the last 72 hours or so, these airlines have made announcements similar to Scandinavian Airlines:

  • Earlier today we heard that American Airlines will ground the majority of its widebody fleet as it cuts 75% of its international routes. New flight suspensions to destinations in Oceania, Asia, Europe, and South America are effective from tomorrow (16th March).
  • Today we also heard that airBaltic will suspend all flights from March 17th until at least the middle of April.
  • On March 14th, LOT Polish Airlines announced it would be suspending all flights from both Poland and Hungary as of today for a period of 10 days.
  • On the same day we heard that the country of Saudi Arabia has decided to suspend all international flights for two weeks.
  • Also on March 14th, El Al said it would it will stop flying most of its routes starting today, with a small list of exceptions.
  • March 13th saw Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian announce that his company will ground 300 of its aircraft and cut 40 percent of its flights.
  • On March 13th, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines CEO, Pieter Elbers, announce that 1,500 to 2,000 jobs would be cut along with the suspension of 30-40% of flights.
  • Finally, it was on March 12th that the country of Kuwait announced that all commercial flights would be suspended as of March 13th.
SAS To Suspend Most Operations & Temporarily Lay Off 90% Of Its Staff
KLM’s CEO delivered news of the cuts in a video to employees. Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying


Sadly, we anticipate that this situation will only get worse in the short-term as countries close off their borders in a concerted effort to contain the coronavirus pandemic and prevent their respective health care systems from being completely overrun.

As China seems to be regaining control over the spread of the disease, attention turns to Europe as Italy and Spain’s infection counts skyrocket. Seeing this, the United States is desperate to prevent a similar fate and has put up new travel restrictions as a reslt. However, this has caused unintended chaos at its airports. American travelers (citizens and permanent residents) are coming in from all over the world, avoiding the possibility of being shut out of the country as airlines suspend their services one by one.