Nordic governments back SAS for now

The Norwegian and Danish Governments told the news agency Reuters at the weekend they would financially support the cash-strapped carrier but wanted to eventually privatize it.

Nordic governments back SAS for now

This followed on the heels of an announcement by Sweden that it hoped to reduce its ownership in SAS at a suitable point in time. Enterprise Minister Maud Olofsson said a sale was not imminent, but in the long term the government saw no value in owning an airline.

SAS has been hit harder than many other carriers in the global recession because of high operational costs and competition. Industry analysts have long speculated a sale to Lufthansa or Air France KLM.

The three governments said they would support the $684 million rights issue to bolster the red-inked SAS balance sheet. Sweden has a 21.4% stake in SAS, while Denmark and Norway own 14.3% respectively. The remainder is privately held by Wallenberg family interests in Sweden, which has also agreed to subscribe to the rights issue.

The governments formed SAS in 1946 to consolidate the Scandinavian markets.

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‘We agree to disagree’: Still no progress in marathon SAS strike talks

By lunchtime on Friday, talks between the Scandinavian airline SAS and unions representing striking pilots were still stuck on "difficult issues".

'We agree to disagree': Still no progress in marathon SAS strike talks

“We agree that we disagree,” Roger Klokset, from the Norwegian pilots’ union, said at lunchtime outside the headquarters of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise in Stockholm, where talks are taking place. “We are still working to find a solution, and so long as there is still some point in continuing negotiations, we will do that.” 

Mats Ruland, a mediator for the Norwegian government, said that there were “still several difficult issues which need to be solved”. 

At 1pm on Friday, the two sides took a short break from the talks for lunch, after starting at 9am. On Thursday, they negotiated for 15 hours, breaking off at 1am on Friday morning. 

READ ALSO: What’s the latest on the SAS plane strike?

Marianne Hernæs, SAS’s negotiator on Friday told journalists she was tired after sitting at the negotiating table long into the night. 

“We need to find a model where we can meet in the middle and which can ensure that we pull in the income that we are dependent on,” she said. 

Klokset said that there was “a good atmosphere” in the talks, and that the unions were sticking together to represent their members.

“I think we’ve been extremely flexible so far. It’s ‘out of this world’,’ said Henrik Thyregod, with the Danish pilots’ union. 

“This could have been solved back in December if SAS had not made unreasonable demands on the pilots,” Klokset added. 

The strike, which is now in its 12th day, has cost SAS up to 130m kronor a day, with 2,550 flights cancelled by Thursday, affecting 270,000 passengers.