Swedish flights to Iraq still grounded after attack

Swedish flights to and from Iraq remain grounded a week after a Nordic Airways plane was reportedly targeted by a missile shortly after take-off from Iraq with 130 passengers on board, Sweden's Civil Aviation Authority said Thursday.

“We are still waiting for information … from the US military … about the security situation and threat scenario in the area, to make sure the airspace is safe,” Anders Lundblad, spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority, told AFP.

The agency grounded flights on August 10 a day after the pilots of a Nordic Airways MD-83 aircraft reported seeing flashes of light after taking off from Sulaimaniyah Airport in northern Iraq.

“We don’t expect to be able to review our decision until sometime next week,” Lundblad said.

Aviation officials from Iraq’s Kurdish region have dismissed reports that the airliner was targeted. But Lundblad said there was no doubt that the airliner had been fired upon.

“We can’t prove it, but we have three people in the cockpit who said they saw it. It is clear that it was some form of shelling. But we don’t know if they (the attackers) knew it was a Swedish plane,” he said.

He said the plane was at an altitude of 1,400 metres (4,500 feet) when the incident occurred.

Nordic Airways, which flies from Stockholm to Sulaimaniyah once a week, and Viking Airlines are the only Swedish carriers that fly to Iraq.

According to Lundblad, at least 3,000 passengers were stranded in Iraq as a result of the Civil Aviation Authority’s decision to ground flights indefinitely.


Struggling Scandinavian carrier SAS gets $700 mn loan

Ailing Scandinavian airline SAS, which filed for bankruptcy protection in the United States in early July, said Sunday it had secured a 700-million-dollar loan.

Struggling Scandinavian carrier SAS gets $700 mn loan

The move follows a crippling 15-day pilot strike, also in July, that cost the carrier between $9 and $12 million a day.

The pilots were protesting against salary cuts demanded by management as part of a restructuring plan aimed at ensuring the survival of the company.

READ ALSO: SAS strike affected 380,000 passengers in July

SAS said it has entered “into a debtor-in-possession (DIP) financing credit agreement for $700 million with funds managed by Apollo Global Management”.

SAS had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the United States and said the “DIP financing, along with cash generated from the company’s ongoing operations, enables SAS to continue meeting its obligations throughout the chapter 11 process”.

“With this financing, we will have a strong financial position to continue supporting our ongoing operations throughout our voluntary restructuring process in the US,” SAS board chairman Carsten Dilling said.

SAS management announced in February the savings plan to cut costs by 7.5 billion Swedish kronor ($700 million), dubbed “SAS Forward”, which was supplemented in June by a plan to increase capital by nearly one billion euros ($1.04 billion).

Denmark and Sweden are the biggest shareholders with 21.8 percent each.

“We can now focus entirely on accelerating the implementation our SAS FORWARD plan, and to continue our more than 75-year legacy of being the leading airline in Scandinavia.”

SAS employs around 7,000 people, mainly in Denmark, Norway and Sweden. It has suffered a string of losses since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020.