Unpleasant surprise for SAS Scandinavian Airlines, as the Danish Transport Authority reported the carrier to the police for withholding customer refunds.
On January 19, 2021, The Danish Transport, Construction and Housing Authority announced that it had reported SAS to the police for not complying with its order to provide refunds for unused airline tickets. The agency already made similar reports against other carriers, including Aegean Airlines (32A), Air France, Brussels Airlines, easyJet, KLM, Norwegian, Ryanair, TAP Portugal, Thai Airways and Vueling in December 2020.
SAS claims it was surprised by such action as it had refunded 99.8% of canceled flights. According to the carrier, more than 5 billion Swedish crowns ($601 million) were refunded to more than 2.2 million customers.
“SAS of course respects the Danish authorities’ decision, even though we are surprised,” said a spokeswoman from SAS. “We regret that we did not reach the goal in full and thus have not been able to meet the deadline from the authority.”
On December 1, 2020, SAS was fined NOK 1 million ($118,000) by the Norwegian Civil Aviation Authority (NRK) for failing to fully reimburse its customers.
“We are aware that the airlines are in a demanding situation, both financially and in other ways, but we are also concerned that customers will get their money back,” said Aviation Director Lars Kobberstad to NRK in December 2020.
In December 2020, SAS reported a SEK10.2 billion ($1.2 billion) loss before tax for the financial year from November 2019 to October 2020. In comparison, the company reported a profit of around SEK800 million ($95 million) the year before. It said that the COVID-19 measures were the most significant contributor to the deficit.
In October 2020, Denmark and Sweden, currently the largest owners of SAS, secured the rescue plan to restore the company’s equity by $1.5 billion (SEK14.2 billion).