Airline SAS' losses deepen, warns bankruptcy protection will drag out

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 Airline SAS' losses deepen, warns bankruptcy protection will drag out
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STOCKHOLM, Nov 30 (Reuters) - Crisis-hit Scandinavian airline SAS on Wednesday reported a much deeper loss in its August-October quarter than last year and said it will take slightly longer than previously expected to complete its bankruptcy protection process.

The long struggling carrier, which sought bankruptcy protection in July in the United States as it tries to slash costs and debt, said the pretax loss in its fiscal fourth quarter grew to 1.70 billion Swedish crowns ($161 million) from 945 million last year.

SAS, whose biggest owners are the Swedish and Danish governments, said in a statement it aimed to complete its bankruptcy protection process during the second half of 2023. It had said earlier it aimed to conclude it within 12 months of its July launch.

"The implementation ... is likely to entail additional legal proceedings in other jurisdictions than the U.S. As a result, there is no assurance that there will be any recovery for the shareholders of SAS AB," it said on Wednesday, without providing more detail.

Chief Executive Anko van der Werff told Reuters he aimed to end the process relatively early in the second half of the year.

SAS hopes to cut costs by 7.5 billion crowns, raise at least 9.5 billion in new equity and convert more than 20 billion of debt into equity as part of its rescue plan. It has renegotiated contracts with many aircraft lessors and lowered pilot salaries as part of efficiency efforts.

SAS, which formerly earned a large share of its profits from business travel, is refocusing towards leisure.

Its full-year pretax loss adjusted for items affecting comparability widened to 7.94 bllion despite full-year sales doubling to 31.8 billion crowns, in line with guidance given in September.

SAS' shares, which are down 51% this year, were broadly flat in morning trade. (Reporting by Anna Ringstrom, editing by Terje Solsvik, Stine Jacobsen and Conor Humphries)

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