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SAS To Return To profit By Fourth Quarter

Troubled Scandinavian carrier says that it will turn a full year loss for 2002...

Scandinavian Airlines System, the Nordic region's largest carrier, says that it expects to return to profit in the fourth quarter of this year, as cost cuts take hold and passenger demand recovers.

?We do not expect we will go back to profitability in a couple of quarters, but the fourth quarter should be a profit,? SAS Chief Executive Officer Joergen Lindegaard said in an interview in Bangkok. SAS will post a loss in full year of 2002, while it will have a profit in 2003, Lindegaard said.

Sales are seen rising to 70 billion kronor ($6.8 billion) this year from 51.4 billion kronor in 2001, mostly because of the inclusion of 74 percent owned Spanair, Spain's second-largest airline, and purchases of other subsidiaries, Lindegaard said.

SAS, Europe's ninth biggest airline, and its rivals are suffering as a global economic slump pushes budget conscious corporate travelers to fly economy class. SAS had a fourth-quarter loss of 997 million kronor, while the loss in all of 2001 was 1.06 billion kronor.