Scandinavian Airlines puts 90% of workforce on temporary paid leave; suspends most flights

Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) has announced that it will put 90% of its workforce into temporary, paid leave as it struggles to maintain operations amid the coronavirus outbreak. The carrier has also said that it will be suspending the majority of its network after demand for international flights becomes ‘essentially non-existent,’ SAS says in a press release.

A SAS Boeing 737-800 landing in Malaga, Spain. Photo by Jero Vida | AeroNewsX

Scandinavian Airlines will be placing 10,000 employees into paid, temporary leave, equivalent to 90% of its entire workforce. The remaining 10% will work to continue select operations, to ‘to enable return flights from different destinations.’

The carrier will indeed be halting the majority of its service, which affects both short, medium and long-haul flights.

SAS’ CEO, Rickard Gustafson said: “An airline with no revenue does not stand up for very long, but we have good liquidity in the company. Exactly how long we will manage is difficult to say.”

Gustafson continued: “The demand for tickets to fly has basically ceased. A majority of our aircraft will not take off tomorrow and later this week.”

Scandinavian Airlines has been hit hard by the coronavirus. US President Donald Trump announced that travel restrictions would be placed onto all flights arriving from the 26 countries in the Schengen Area as well as the UK and Ireland. Therefore, flights from, Croatia, Cyprus, Turkey and Ukraine are not affected by the changes. The travel restrictions apply to anyone that isn’t a permanent American resident. Also exempted from the restrictions include spouses, parents or siblings of American citizens or permanent residents, members of the U.S. military and their spouses and children.

SAS' newly delivered Airbus A350-900s are a common sight in the United States. Photo by Matt Lino | AeroNewsX

This announcement has had a severe impact on SAS, which operates a significant number of flights to the United States. The carrier previously operated regular flights to Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco and Washington D.C. The Copenhagen to San Francisco route will be suspended on 17 March, while the Copenhagen to Chicago and New York and Stockholm to New York services will continue to operate under a reduced schedule. All other US-bound flights have been suspended as of 14 March until 28 March.

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