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Airline SAS studies decrease loss, suspicious of Omicron uncertainty

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) planes are pictured at Arlanda Airport north of Stockholm, Sweden on April 9, 2020. Anders Wiklund / TT News Agency / via REUTERS / File Photo

By Anna Ringstrom

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – SAS's loss for the August-October quarter decreased year over year as air traffic increased, but the airline warned that the new Omicron coronavirus variant is adding to uncertainty.

The airline, which is owned by the governments of Sweden and Denmark, posted a pre-tax loss of 945 million Swedish kronor ($ 104 million) in the fourth quarter, compared to a loss of 3.25 billion a year earlier.

SAS said in a statement that ticket sales are increasing, but uncertainties continue to affect business start-up.

"We remain cautious because of the prevailing uncertainties, but see that the underlying demand for the lifting of restrictions on both business and leisure travel is healthy," it said.

"The short-term impact of recent developments has yet to be fully analyzed, but we remain optimistic about the peak times ahead."

CEO Anko van der Werff told Reuters that a spike in sales over the Black Friday weekend made it difficult to analyze data to determine if Omicron has started to impact demand.

"But nobody likes uncertainty, so that's the challenge," he said in an interview.

He said it was too early to say how Omicron would affect SAS and that the company is sticking to its plan to increase its operations to 80% of prepandemic 2019 this year.

"We have to stay agile, but our plan looks back on it for the summer."

The uncertainty about the new variant triggered alarms worldwide and overshadowed the economic recovery from the pandemic.

($ 1 = 9.0760 Swedish crowns)

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