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Aviation

Scandinavian SAS Group cuts jobs to survive

SAS Group, which operates the troubled carrier Scandinavian Airlines, has announced massive job cuts and other cost-saving measures. The company says it's a final attempt to escape bankruptcy.

Loss-making European aviation group SAS on Monday said it was planning massive job cuts as part of a large restructuring offensive to save the company from going bust.

The group, which is the operator of troubled carrier Scandinavian Airlines, has not made a full-year profit since 2007 as it struggles to survive in the fight against discount carriers such as Ryanair and Norwegian.

SAS announced 800 jobs would be cut, with the sale of regional airline Wideroe and the group's ground handling unit reducing overall staff to around 9,000 from 15,000 at the moment.

"This truly is our final call, if there is to be a SAS in the future," Chief Executive Rickard Gustafson said in a statement. "We have been given this final chance to make a fresh start and to carry on these fundamental changes."

Drastic pay cuts

Gustafson was referring to an agreement on credit facilities of 3.5 billion kronor (407 million euros, $518 million) with a consortium of banks and its main owners, including the governments of Denmark, Norway and Sweden. But the loans hinge on new collective agreements and parliamentary approval

SAS said staff would have to take pay cuts of up to 17 percent, depending on what part of the firm they worked in, with cabin crew members facing a12-percent decrease in wages. CEO Rickard Gustafson added he would take a 20-percent reduction.

"I know we're asking a lot of our employees, but there's no other way, and I hope all are willing to fight for the survival of SAS," Gustafson commented. He said the company needed to get a deal with unions in place within a week.

hg/kms (Reuters, dpa, dapd)