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Enterprise minister says no to airline bailout

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Enterprise minister says no to airline bailout
07:49 CEST+02:00
Embattled airlines can not count on financial support from the Swedish state to compensate for the flight chaos of the past week, enterprise minister Maud Olofsson has said.

"We want to avoid state support, we want to resist," Olofsson told the Västerbottens-Kuriren daily after taking the first plane from Umeå to Stockholm-Arlanda Airport on Monday.

Olofsson later told news agency TT however that she could amend her position on state support on the condition that such provision was made in cooperation with other European partners.

The closure of a large part of European airspace has meant substantial losses for Scandinavian airline SAS and other carriers. But despite the losses the government intends to take as tough a line as it did with the automotive industry and decline to stump up financial support.

"The risk when states go in with their own support is that it creates unhealthy competition. This can be tough on small states such as Sweden," Maud Olofsson said, adding that the issue should be addressed at EU level.

"I do not want a state support race. The car industry crisis taught us that we have to work together," she told news agency TT.

The airspace shutdown meant that Olofsson was forced to take a car for the 700 kilometre journey home to Robertsfors on Friday. After the opening of Swedish airspace north of Stockholm on Monday, she was able to return to the capital by plane as scheduled.

The Local reported in February that the Swedish, Norwegian and Danish governments had agreed to back a new €510 million ($690 million) rights issue to bolster the firm's ailing finances after persistent losses.

The Swedish government has also declared its intention to reduce its stake in SAS from a current 21.4 percent. Denmark and Norway own 14.3 percent each.

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