Lufthansa plans SAS acquisition: report

German airline Lufthansa could take over Scandinavian carrier SAS as early as the first half of 2011, with talks pending, according to Bloomberg News.

Lufthansa plans SAS acquisition: report

Talks are pending with the governments of Sweden, Denmark and Norway, which together own half of the airline’s stock, Bloomberg reports, citing a person with inside knowledge of the discussions.

Lufthansa would strengthen its central European dominance and cut flight times on some transatlantic routes, according to the source, although the plans have not been made public.

Lufthansa spokesperson Andreas Bartels declined to comments on the Bloomberg report.

Beleaguered Scandinavian airline SAS posted deep losses for the third quarter, with results weighed down by legal fees and a €70 million fine (629.42 million kronor, $96.38 million) for being part of a global cargo cartel.

The airline, which has been hard-hit by the rise of low-cost airline Norwegian and by plunging passenger traffic numbers in the wake of the global economic crisis, launched a major restructuring plan, Core SAS, last year, aimed at saving nearly 8 billion kronor ($1.17 billion), entailing more than 5,000 layoffs.

The renewed speculation surrounding Lufthansa interest in SAS, had a positive impact on the firm’s stock on Thursday morning, with a climb of 10 percent by 10.30am local time.

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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.