Skift Take

The list of pandemic airline bankruptcies keeps growing even as travel bounces back faster than anticipated. But hundreds-of-millions-of-dollars in government aid didn't save SAS, which became the latest victim Tuesday.

One of Europe’s largest airlines, SAS, filed for bankruptcy Tuesday, becoming the latest financial casualty in global aviation.

During the first few months following the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020, the industry experienced a rash of bankruptcies. In some cases, these bankruptcies resulted in restructurings and, in others, they led to complete shutdowns.

The list would have been a lot longer were it not for huge amounts of government aid. How huge? Trade group the International Air Transport Association (IATA) last fall estimated the figure at $243 billion, consisting of everything from wage subsidies to credit support to tax breaks. Some governments were more generous than others and in places where the generosity was lacking, like Latin America, airline bankruptcies were rife. 

The pace of bankruptcies have slowed this year. But they haven’t stopped, just look at Comair in South Africa. The SAS filing comes in the middle of the carrier’s peak summer season, which is unusual. But with pilots on strike, there was not much of an alternative. 

AirlineWhat HappenedDate
Flybe (UK)Files for BankruptcyMar 2020
Trans States (U.S.)Ceased OperationsApr 2020
Compass (U.S.)Ceased OperationsApr 2020
CityJet (Ireland)Files for BankruptcyApr 2020
Virgin AustrailaFiles for BankruptcyApr 2020
Air MauritiusFiles for BankruptcyApr 2020
Avianca (Colombia)Files for BankruptcyMay 2020
AeromexicoFiles for BankruptcyJun 2020
Thai AirwaysFiles for BankruptcySep 2020
TAME (Ecuador)LIquidationMay 2020
LATAM (Chile)Files for BankruptcyMay 2020
SunExpress DeustchlandAnnounces Ceasing OperationsJun 2020
One Airlines (Chile)Ceased OperationsJun 2020
NokScoot (Thaiand)Ceases OperationsJun 2020
LIAT (Antigua)Ceases Most OperationsJun 2020
Jet Time (Denmark)Files for BankruptcyJul 2020
Virgin Atlantic (UK)Files for BankruptcyAug 2020
AirAsia JapanCeases OperationsOct 2020
Cathay Dragon (Hong Kong)Ceases OperationsOct 2020
Ravn Air (U.S.)Files for BankruptcyOct 2020
Norwegian AirFiles for BankruptcyNov 2020
Czech AirlinesFiles for BankruptcyMar 2021
InterJet (Mexico)Files for BankruptcyApr 2021
Philippine AirlinesFiles for BankruptcySep 2021
Blue Panorama (Italy)Ceased OperationsOct 2021
Comair/Kulula (South Africa)Ceased OperationsJun 2022
SASFiles for BankruptcyJul 2022
November 16, 2022
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Tags: bankruptcy, sas

Photo credit: SAS wants to use its bankruptcy to speed the renewal of its fleet. Michael Kidmose / Copenhagen Airports