SAS Group saw earnings decline in the first quarter, falling to an "unsatisfactorily negative" pre-tax loss of SKr1.1 billion ($163 million), against a loss of Skr558 million in the same period a year earlier, as higher jet fuel prices and the "uncertain economic climate" took their toll.
Revenue rose to Skr9.5 billion in the period to 31 March, up on SKr9.3 billion in the first quarter of 2011, the carrier says in a statement.
Based on the uncertain economic outlook the carrier has declined to issue a profit forecast for 2012, describing the year as "difficult to assess".
Its jet fuel costs rose by SKr350 in the first quarter alone, partly due to the reduced effects of fuel hedging, with the carrier noting that "with the prevailing market situation it is difficult to fully offset this cost increase".
Faced with the substantial market headwinds, in February it accelerated the implementation of its "4Excellence" cost-saving programme which it anticipates will generate savings of SKr2 billion this year, the majority in the second half. It hopes to realise a total of SKr5 billion in cost savings in the 2012-13 period.
New routes have also been launched, with Copenhagen-Shanghai commencing in March, and a total of 27 due to go live this year.
Its fleet modernisation plan is continuing, it says, with the carrier recently signing an agreement to a take a further three Airbus A320s. "Within two years all [Boeing] MD-80 and 737 Classic aircraft will have been phased out and replaced by modern A320/737 aircraft," it says.
SAS Group is no longer reporting the performance of Finnish subsidiary Blue1 as a separate entity, instead consolidating its finances into Scandinavian Airlines.
Here, passenger revenue stood at SKr6.3 billion, against SKr6 billion a year earlier, and EBIT before non-recurring items showing a loss of SKr791 million, compared with a negative EBIT of SKr368 in the first quarter off 2011.
Meanwhile, at Widerøe, its Norwegian regional subsidiary, passenger revenue was SKr712 million, generating EBIT of SKr63 million, compared with 2011 figures of SKr636 million and SKr67 million respectively.
It says that under a newly-tendered regional air services agreement the carrier has retained all its previous routes and gained the Florø-Bergen/Oslo route previously operated by Danish Air Transport.