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SAS grounds Dash Q-400 planes for good

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SAS grounds Dash Q-400 planes for good
22:24 CET+01:00
SAS has said it is permanently grounding its fleet of Dash Q-400 planes, after a series of accidents.

The Scandinavian airline made the announcement after it was forced once again to cancel flights following an accident involving landing gear on a Dash Q-400, made by Canadian company Bombardier.

"We need to get rid of these planes. They are damaging SAS and its brand," said the company's president Mats Jansson. The decision to axe the planes was taken at an extra board meeting.

The company owns 27 Dash Q-400 aircraft, of which 16 are operated by SAS Denmark. Analysts said SAS was making the right decision, despite the impact it would have on the company's share price.

"It's a real solution. They can't live with planes crashing as often as they have," said Finn Bjarke Petersen, analyst at the Danish branch of credit rating company Standard & Poors.

The decision was made following an accident on Saturday at Copenhagen Kastrup Airport in which the plane's landing gear gave way. The SAS Dash Q-400 fleet has previously been grounded after a series of accidents starting in September.

SAS has already demanded 500 million kronor compensation from manufacturer Bombardier for the previous periods during which its fleet was grounded. It is now demanding more money, which it says it plans to gain through negotiation with Bombardier.

Bombardier said in a statement on Sunday that it was disappointed by SAS's decision and insisted that the Q-400 was a reliable plane.

SAS said it would attempt to rent, lease or buy aircraft to replace the grounded fleet. It said it would do so as soon as possible. The airline said that passengers inconvenienced in the meantime would be offered refunds or rebooking.

Civil aviation authorities in Denmark and Sweden have banned the planes from flying until further information is available.

Nils Gunnar Billinger, director general of the Swedish Civil Aviation Authority said his organization was more cautious than Bombardier, but added:

"On the other hand it is the manufacturer who knows most about the plane. We will find out on what basis they recommend that it be allowed to continue flying."

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