SAS creeps into profit over newly-shortened fiscal year

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SAS Group has turned in a small pre-tax profit of SKr21 million ($3.1 million), before non-recurring items, for the last 12 months in its new fiscal calendar.

The Scandinavian company says it has changed its fiscal year-end to 31 October to bring its financial year into line with the "distinct" summer and winter period of its operations.

SAS Group posted a SKr23 million profit for the shortened 10-month period from 1 January-31 October 2012.

But chief executive Rickard Gustafson says that, while this positive underlying income is "somewhat better than expectations", the figure is "otherwise not satisfactory by any measure".

The group recorded an overall net loss of more than SKr3 billion for the 12 months, and SKr985 million for the 10-month period - the company turned in a net loss of more than SKr1 billion for October alone.

These heavy deficits were primarily attributable to costs of the company's new restructuring programme, 4XNG, under which it will sell assets including its ground-handling arm and Norwegian regional carrier Wideroe.

The group has already centralised its airline accounts and only Wideroe stands alone outside of the core Scandinavian Airlines balance sheet.

Its restructuring plan still depends on final parliamentary clearance of a new SKr3.5 billion credit facility which will run to the end of March 2015.

Gustafson says the 4XNG scheme will "significantly" reduce unit costs and the company expects a SKr1.5 billion earnings benefit for 2012-13.

While the company still expects a "negative trend" for yield and revenue per available seat-kilometre, Gustafson says the "potential exists" for a positive margin for earnings, before interest and tax, of more than 3% for the 2012-13 financial year - although the new first quarter, owing to seasonality, will be "extremely weak".