The SAS group is to undergo a further restructuring that will see another 4,000 job cuts, greater pilot productivity and more autonomy for its bases in Copenhagen, Stockholm and Oslo.

SAS says the measures will save SKr6-8 billion ($700-940 million) on top of the expected SKr12.5 billion in savings by 2005 that are expected to result from two previous restructuring efforts agreed since last year which saw 6,200 job losses. SAS estimates that this will enable it to reach its goal of a 30% reduction in costs as it faces a growing threat from low-cost carriers such as Ryanair. Agreement has been reached with 35 of its 39 unions, but cabin crews are proving resistant.

Agreement has also been reached with pilots that will see their annual number of "block hours" in the air increased from 490 to 700. Copenhagen, Stockholm and Oslo airports will all be given greater operational independence, and SAS hopes to cut down on overnight stays for crews by returning aircraft to base at night.

The moves by SAS come just weeks after fellow Scandinavian carrier Finnair said it expected to make an operational loss in 2003 and started negotiations with unions over a restructuring that will see 1,200 job losses.

Source: Airline Business