After cutting staff by 40 percent as part of a coronavirus rescue plan Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) Thursday posted a big loss but pinned hopes on better things by 2022.
The carrier unveiled a net loss of almost 9.3 billion Swedish kronor (900 million euros, $1 billion) for its fiscal year that closed at the end of October, compared with a 621 million kronor profit for the previous year.
Sales slumped by more than half to 20.5 billion kronor.
"Since the beginning of 2020, the coronavirus has changed the fundamentals for the aviation industry through globally imposed travel restrictions and general travel concerns among the broader population," said the carrier.
"Naturally, SAS is no exception, and our quarterly and fiscal year earnings were severely impacted by the ongoing pandemic," the airline added in its annual report, noting global travel demand remains uncertain.
"Our view continues to be that the ramp-up phase for the airline industry will last until 2022 before demand can reach more normalised levels, with a return to pre Covid-19 levels a few years thereafter."
For August-October, SAS saw net losses top 2.5 billion kronor compared with an 861 million profit last year while sales fell by a factor of ten to three billion.
The carrier has already laid off 5,000 staff -- 40 percent of the workforce -- having in March furloughed 90 percent of its staff.
Sweden and Denmark, SAS' two largest shareholders, have already stepped in to help the airline.
At the beginning of May they agreed to provide a 90 percent guarantee for a revolving credit facility of 3.3 billion kronor so the airline would have more access to cash.
The two countries ramped up their share in the carrier to 21.8 percent each from 14.8 and 14.2 before the health crisis.
European governments have come to the help of a number of major carriers whose business has been devastated by the pandemic, with Paris and Berlin notably announcing multibillion aid for Air France and Lufthansa.
Sector analysts do not espect air traffic to recover to pre-virus levels until 2024.