DALLAS — As some airlines face capacity shortages in the face of ever-increasing demand, SAS (SK) has dispatched its first Airbus A350 to long-term storage. The fact that the airline has decided to mothball one of the most efficient long-haul aircraft today points to a much deeper issue at the Scandinavian carrier.
According to flight tracking data, A350-951 (SE-RSC) was ferried from Stockholm Arlanda (ARN) to Tarbes (LDE) for storage on November 29. On the same day, sister ship SE-RSB was positioned empty from Copenhagen (CPH) to ARN, pending what is likely to be end-of-service modifications before eventual storage.
Following a previous report that indicated that ten aircraft are likely to leave the SAS fleet in the near future, the airline’s latest investor relations release suggests that negotiations with a total of 13 lessors representing a total of 46 aircraft are underway.
These negotiations, according to the airline, “represent another important step in reconfiguring the fleet and achieving the SEK 7.5 billion in annual cost savings under the SAS FORWARD plan.” It is expected that not all 46 aircraft will be removed from the fleet and that SK will seek revised leasing terms instead.
Chapter 11 Protection
SAS FORWARD is the airline’s “comprehensive business transformation plan” in the wake of its voluntary filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the USA. According to court documents, the Chapter 11 filing is for “SAS AB and its debtor subsidiaries,” which total 14 entities, one of which appears to be incorporated in the USA.
Anko van der Werff, CEO of SK, is no stranger to the Chapter 11 process, having served as CEO of Avianca (AV) when the airline was placed in Chapter 11 as it struggled in the fallout of the pandemic.
The Chapter 11 process provides SK with a period of protection from creditors, allowing restructuring to take place while the airline continues to operate normally. According to court documents, creditors have until January 10, 2023, to submit a ‘proof of claim’ against the airline.
SAS has hinted that it expects to exit Chapter 11 protection around a year after it was implemented in July 2022.
Featured Image: The airline initially had plans to operate a total of six examples of the type. Photo: Mateo Skinner/Airways