Airline SAS summons unions for talks on cost cuts, paper reports

A Scandanavian Airlines, known as SAS, Airbus A320-200 airplane takes off from the airport in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, July 29, 2018. REUTERS/Paul Hanna

COPENHAGEN, Oct 25 (Reuters) - Scandinavian carrier SAS (SAS.ST) has summoned its workers' largest unions to negotiations as part of the airline's efforts to cut costs and increase flexibility in its pandemic-hit business, Danish daily Jyllands-Posten reported on Monday.

"The biggest problem for SAS is costs, so that's where we have to start," SAS Chief Executive Anko van der Werff told the paper. "Other airlines have cut costs and can fly more flexibly and efficiently. We need to be able to do that, too."

The negotiations could last three months, Jyllands-Posten reported.

Shares in SAS were down 8.9% in early trade on Monday.

Nordnet analyst Per Hansen said the negotiations could be tough.

"After the strike in 2019, the pilots were able to negotiate large wage increases for which SAS had no finances at all," he said in a note.

The airline, part-owned by the governments of Sweden and Denmark, has noted a gradual increase in demand from leisure travellers during the summer but business travel has yet to bounce back from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We are not going to make money in 2022 and we will also have challenges with 2023," Van der Werff told Jyllands-Posten. "The pandemic will have an effect for at least three to four years, and that underlines the importance of us changing."

Reporting by Nikolaj Skydsgaard Editing by David Goodman

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.