SAS sheds airlines to stay aloft

SWEDISH-BASED Scandinavian Airlines System Group (SAS) is to focus its business solely on the Nordic region by selling off its other airlines. These airlines are: airBaltic, Air Greenland, BMI, Estonian Air, Skyways, Spanair and Spirit.

SAS has also announced recently that it will sell Cubic Air Cargo, which it acquired from Maersk in October 2005. Cubic Air Cargo is a general sales agent for Scandinavia, Finland and the Baltics.

The move comes after SAS posted a loss of SEK4 billion (US$470 million) for 2008. The group has started a cost-cutting programme it calls Core SAS.

Some of the sales have already been started or completed.

It has already sold it’s 47.2 per cent holding of airBaltic to the management of that airline.

The sale of Spanair to a consortium – made up of the north Spanish region of Catalonia, the city of Barcelona and several private companies – for EUR1 is almost complete. SAS is to retain a minority stake of 19.9 per cent in the airline, which will have its headquarters moved from Palma in Mallorca to Barcelona Airport. SAS will continue to lease its aircraft to Spanair.

There are unsubstantiated rumours that SAS may be bought by Air France or Lufthansa.

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