SAS chief bails out

SAS managing director Jörgen Lindegaard is to quit the troubled airline in the autumn. No successor has yet been identified, wrote the company in a press statement.

Lindegaard has been running SAS since May 2001.

“I feel that the time is right for a new CEO to take over. For my part, I would like to take on a further challenge,” said Lindegaard.

He has a notice period of six months and the board has already begun the hunt for a replacement.

Lindegaard’s time has head of SAS has been characterised by billion kronor losses followed by cutbacks. The September 11th attacks happened shortly after he took on the role as managing director, heralding a crisis in the airline industry. At the same time, budget airlines have made great strides in the market.

SAS has still not fully pulled itself out of this turbulent era, returning a loss after financial items of 1.4 billion kronor for the first quarter of the year – a result comparable to the same period last year.

Improved performance was negatively affected by massive costs following strikes as well as rising fuel prices.

The SAS board said it regrets Lindegaard’s decision to leave the company.

“Jörgen has made an outstanding contribution to our company. It is no exaggeration to say that he has had one of the most difficult CEO positions in Scandinavia,” said Egil Myklebust, chairman of the SAS Group.

SAS shares climbed by around 1% following the announcement, against a background of a largely unchanged Stockholm stock market.