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Photo: SAS

Four Nordic airlines’ contrasting fortunes

SAS had the lowest passenger growth of the four big Nordic airlines in 2018, but it is arguably in a better place.

The four largest airlines in the Nordic region have presented their varying traffic figures for the month of December, and so also the total figures for the calendar year, reports.

In relation to passenger growth, Norwegian and Finnair have been at the forefront, as both companies have implemented significant capacity increases.

At Norwegian there was a 12.6% rise in passenger numbers to 37,344,134 for the year, while Finnair managed an increase of 11.6% to 13,281,500.

Icelandair experienced a more modest incline in passenger numbers of 1.3%, to 4,402,153, while SAS saw passenger growth of 1.2% to 30,098,529 in 2018, which was 363,331 more than the year before.

Better shape
But despite its modest growth, SAS stresses that it is in a better financial shape in 2018 than several of its Nordic competitors.

Very tight capacity and price discipline ensured that SAS went for profitable growth instead of plunging into a price war it would be in danger of losing, with only the consumers being the winners.

Earnings capacity at SAS has already been documented in the financial statements that ended October 31. There, SAS emerged with a profit of the equivalent of around €207 million before tax and one-off items, while Finnair is expected to deliver a profit of around €170 million.

Norwegian and Icelandair, however, have both been fighting tough battles lately in a market where competition and high fuel prices are seriously hurting.

Both companies have the prospect of coming out of 2018 in the red, and they are working hard to secure a satisfactory capital base so that current loan conditions can be maintained.

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