Norway to sell remaining SAS airline stake

Norway said Tuesday it would sell its remaining stake of close to 10 percent in Scandinavian airline SAS, also co-owned by Sweden and Denmark.

Norway to sell remaining SAS airline stake
A SAS aircraft displaying the flags of Denmark, Sweden and Norway. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

The trade ministry said in a statement it would sell 37.8 million shares, which correspond to around 9.88 percent of the airline's capital, to “institutional investors”.

“The Norwegian state is not a long-term owner of SAS,” it added.

The sale will earn the Norwegian state around 652 million Swedish kronor (around 450 million Danish kroner), Ritzau reports.

Both Norway and Sweden have previously stated their intentions to sell off their shares in the airline, but Tuesday’s shares sales mark the end of a decades-long collaboration between the Norwegian, Swedish and Danish governments over the majority ownership of the airline.

SAS noted in a press statement Tuesday that Norway had signalled its intention to leave the company some time ago, but declined to comment further on the sale, Ritzau writes.

Sweden has previously said it also planned to sell its remaining 14.8 percent stake in the company.

Denmark currently owns 14.2 percent of the shares in SAS.

“The government has made it clear that the state did not want to continue part-ownership of SAS in the long term,” Norwegian minister for trade and industry Torbjørn Røe Isaksen told NTB.

“Parliament has given the government dispensation to sell the shares on a number of occasions. We now want to make use of that,” Isaksen added.

Danish finance minister Kristian Jensen said that Copenhagen had no intention of selling its part of SAS following the Norwegian announcement.

“Norway’s exit marks the beginning of a new epoch in the company’s history. But that does not change the Danish state’s position on ownership of SAS. There is still political support for state ownership of SAS,” Jensen told Ritzau.

READ ALSO: SAS moves Hong Kong route from Stockholm to Copenhagen


‘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.