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SAS plans to recall a mothballed long-range aircraft in
response to a boom in demand for intercontinental flights, the airline
announced on Wednesday. The Scandinavian carrier said it would reintroduce the
extra aircraft at an unspecified date to boost frequencies to North America and
Asia after experiencing record load factors on its long-haul services.
Earlier this month, British Airways reported it would
restore a Boeing 747 to its fleet, responding to a consistent trend on both
sides of the Atlantic for a much faster resurgence in demand for long-haul
travel than for short-haul journeys.
A report from Bloomberg last week, citing the aviation
consultancy Ascent Worldwide, said 200 aircraft were recalled from storage in
June—although this included freight as well as passenger aircraft. The report
added that June was the first month since January 2009 in which more aircraft
were retrieved from storage than were mothballed. SAS's long-haul fleet is comprised
of Airbus 330 and 340 models.
SAS highlighted the return of the aircraft while revealing
its results for the first half of 2010. It reported a surge in demand for
business class and its premium economy product Economy Extra. The trend appears
to have continued in July. SAS said it experienced a 30 percent increase in
business class traffic last month despite only a 1.1 percent increase in
revenue passenger kilometers. The figures imply dramatic upgrading by existing
customers who continued to fly during the recession.
However, the positive indicators for the airline are not
necessarily leading to higher fares. President and CEO Mats Jansson, who will
retire this autumn, said yield is proving exceptionally inconsistent and hard
to predict. "We are experiencing intense competition, which entails
constant pressure on yields," he said.
Most of the pricing pressure on SAS is in its regional
Scandinavian market, especially from low-cost carriers. Despite this, the
airline announced it also is boosting frequencies between its three home
capitals: Stockholm, Oslo and Copenhagen.
SAS took a loss of SKr236 million, or €25 million, for the
period from April through June, but said it would have made a profit of SKr464
million, or €49 million, had it not been for the ash cloud crisis.