The airline admits that it overestimated demand for the season, and it has also suffered from contractor crew shortages.
SAS has revealed that it will cut about 1,500 flights from its winter schedules, admitting it overestimated demand for the season.
Nearly one fifth of the eliminated flights are to and from Malaga, according to the Swedish daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter.
These 270 cancelled operations had been due to be flown by the carrier’s Irish subsidiary SAS Ireland. It was crew shortages there and at the subcontractor City Jet that forced SAS to cancel some 700 flights over a three-month period earlier this year.
Other routes that have been dropped for the winter season include Stockholm to Lisbon and Copenhagen to Riga, The Local reports.
“It’s often the case that as you get closer to a season the picture becomes clearer in regards to demand, and then you adjust the programme accordingly,” SAS media relations chief in Sweden Freja Annamatz tells Dagens Nyheter.
But even with the cancellation of 1,500 flights, the airline still plans to operate 120,000 scheduled flights for the coming winter season – more than it offered last winter.
An analyst at the Danish bank Sydbank, Jacob Pedersen, tells Dagens Nyheter that he thinks SAS made the right decision in announcing the axed flights now, ahead of time.
“It’s a good thing to not have too many disappointed customers. There have really been a lot of disruptions to SAS services in recent months so it’s very important that the airline takes control of the situation now,” he said.
As the airline prepares to release a new quarterly report later this week, Pedersen says that its use of the Irish subsidiary and low-cost subcontractors have made financial sense.
“SAS has made a profit over the past three years and they will do so again this year and probably for the next two to three years. This is an essential element of SAS’s success, but of course it also comes with downsides and SAS definitely needs to address them.