Airline SAS set to lose key Norway direction

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10:20 CEST+02:00
The management group of Scandinavian Airlines, or SAS, is on course to lose Norwegian representation on its board when its commercial director steps down in six months' time.

Despite earning half of its business from its Norwegian operation, four Swedes and two Danes will oversee Scandinavia’s largest carrier from March 2012 onward if a suitable Norwegian isn’t found. The company’s Norwegian organized labour leader said he wasn’t amused that Robin Kamark, SAS commercial director, was deciding to step down.

“There’s a symbolic effect for the public, for staff and maybe for society as a whole that Norwegians (run the consortium) too,” said company trade union leader, Asbjørn Wikestad to broadcaster NRK.

SAS shares rose nearly four percent on the news, although at least one analyst said it was “strange” that no other Norwegian was in the SAS top rung. Norwegians are otherwise well represented in the Group’s other ranks, although the carrier’s main hub is Copenhagen’s Kastrup airport.

Newly installed group chief executive, Rickard Gustafson, has reportedly said he had “an ambition” to fill a leadership position with a Norwegian. Gustafson was brought from the finance and insurance world in January 2011 to restore company morale, cut costs, quell rebellions in key staff ranks, stem desertions to flyer Norwegian and lift company stock.

The group reported a first-quarter loss of 500 million Swedish kronor ($75 million).

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Europe's ninth-largest airline, SAS flies 25 million passengers a year out of Oslo Airport Gardermoen, head office Stockholm Arlanda Airport and Copenhagen. The consortium charter started in 1946 when Norwegian, Swedish and Danish interests in transatlantic travel were combined.

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