SAS signed (03-Oct-2013) a final agreement with Airbus for the order of four A330-300 and eight A350-900 aircraft, plus six A350-900 options. The agreement, worth USD3.3 billion at list prices, will be financed by export credit financing and sale and leaseback agreements. The A330-300s will be delivered in 2015 and 2016, with the A350s to be delivered from 2018. [more - original PR] [more - original PR - Swedish]
SAS firms A330 and A350 order
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After improving its underlying profit in FY2015 and narrowing its losses in the seasonally weak 1Q2016, SAS suffered a widening of losses in 2Q2016. This was the first year-on-year deterioration in its underlying result for six quarters. It benefited from lower fuel prices and from its own cost savings programme, but experienced plummeting unit revenue.
This reflects the ongoing growth of LCC competition in short haul markets, but is also the result of its own capacity increase. SAS' growth is led by rapid expansion on long haul, where Norwegian is also providing LCC competition. SAS is investing in its network and product and growing its revenue from higher-yielding loyalty scheme members, but these measures do not appear to be giving sufficient support to unit revenue.
These trends are unlikely to dissipate any time soon, and there is now the real prospect that its FY2015 result represented a cyclical peak for SAS. The company recognises the need for further change in order to improve its competitiveness. Strategies to seek labour cost reform can be expected, in spite of a strike call by Swedish pilots.
Oslo Gardermoen Airport seeks Asian flights to leverage tourism to Norway; perhaps the new Iceland
Oslo Gardermoen Airport has sat out the recent boom in Asian growth. This is not just in comparison to neighbouring Helsinki's rapid Asian growth in tandem with Finnair, but even more broadly. Norway is the largest Western European country without a flight to China, and is the smallest of Western European countries with flights to Asia. Its only destination is Bangkok.
This is a juxtaposition to Norway's strong credentials: maritime and gas businesses, a wealthy population (much more so than Finland's) for outbound travel, and untapped year-round tourism opportunity – not just for Oslo but for all of Norway, from fjords in the summer to northern lights in the winter.
New management at Oslo airport wants to regain the initiative in Asia. Norway has the credentials to follow Iceland's sudden rise in tourism, especially from China. Management is considering foreign airlines, since SAS is in low-growth mode and has historically favoured Copenhagen, and Norwegian Air Shuttle lacks US approval for the NAI license it seeks – but perhaps more importantly is unable to access Russian overflight rights.