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The COVID-19 outbreak has removed most of the demand for air travel. Currently, SAS is only operating a very limited domestic network in Norway and Sweden. Given the current restrictions, SAS expects limited activity in the important summer season. In addition, it will most likely take some years before demand returns to the levels seen before COVID-19.
The employees at SAS have contractual notice periods averaging six months. The uncertainty regarding demand and the time it takes to adapt the organisation means that SAS must act proactively, and plans have been made to lay off as many as 5,000 people.
The potential reduction of the workforce by up to 5,000 full-time positions will be split with approximately 1,900 full-time positions in Sweden, 1,300 in Norway and 1,700 in Denmark. The processes will be implemented in accordance with the labour law practices in each respective country. During this process, SAS will actively engage with its unions and other stakeholders to seek solutions to reduce the number of actual layoffs across the Group, as well as other productivity enhancements.
COVID-19 has forced SAS to face a new and unprecedented reality that will reverberate not only in the coming months, but also during the coming years. Our ambition is to continue to be the leading airline in Scandinavia and to have a leading role in the Scandinavian infrastructure as a guarantor of national and international connectivity. In order to continue this important societal function, we need to adapt our cost base to the prevailing circumstances. Regretfully, we are forced to adapt our workforce to lower passenger demand. Not least in view of the company’s successful journey in recent years, which has been made possible by the great work done by SAS’s competent and dedicated employees. We will now work intensively together with trade union representatives and others to identify solutions so that as few people as possible are affected. Furthermore, we remain ready to quickly ramp-up operations and reduce the number of affected positions if demand recovers more quickly.
Rickard Gustafson, CEO SAS
The recent announcement that BA is considering 12,000 job cuts was terrible news, but the scale of the redundancies SAS is discussing is proportionately even starker. It’s now very clear that even in the event of a relatively rapid recovery from the public health crisis, the short and medium term future of the aviation industry is extremely bleak.