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Norway ready to reclaim stake in Scandinavian airline SAS

Norway said on Tuesday it was willing to once again become an owner in the struggling Scandinavian airline, co-owned by Sweden and Denmark, four years after pulling out.

a SAS flight
Photo: Tony Webster/Flickr.com

“Given the situation of the company … we can, on certain terms, accept to convert outstanding debt into shares if we consider this necessary,” Norwegian Trade and Industry Minister Jan Christian Vestre said in a statement.

Norway sold off its stake in the airline between 2016 and 2018.

But it issued a guarantee of 1.5 billion Norwegian kroner ($154 million) to SAS during the pandemic to ensure the airline’s liquidity when it was hit hard by travel restrictions.

“The Norwegian state will not contribute new capital and will not be a long-term owner of SAS,” Vestre insisted.

SAS is also co-owned by Sweden and Denmark which each hold stakes of 21.8 percent.

The Danish government said on June 10 it was prepared to increase its stake in SAS to up to 30 percent and write off debts of 3.5 billion Danish kroner ($500 million).

The Swedish government has said it would not inject more capital into SAS, but would propose to parliament that SAS be authorised to convert the debt it owes to the state into equity capital.

SAS posted a net loss of 1.5 billion Swedish kronor ($150 million) in the second quarter, compared to a net loss of 2.4 billion kronor a year earlier.

Stressing that the company’s survival was at stake, SAS management in February announced a savings plan dubbed “SAS Forward”. In early June, it announced further plans to raise 9.5 billion Swedish kronor ($968 million) in new capital.

It also aims to convert debt worth around $2 billion into shares SAS said the Norwegian government’s announcement “is appreciated and an important step towards the success of SAS Forward”.

After cutting thousands of jobs due to the pandemic, SAS’ almost 900 pilots are now threatening to go on strike on June 29 over job security and wage issues.

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SAS

Scandinavian airline SAS plans to launch electric planes in 2028 

Despite a number of economic challenges, airline SAS has announced an agreement with a Swedish company that will enable it to purchase electric aircraft and add them to its fleet. 

Scandinavian airline SAS plans to launch electric planes in 2028 

SAS has signed an agreement with Swedish company Heart Aerospace that could see it operating electric planes from 2028, the airline said in a press statement.

The model of plane that SAS would purchase from Heart Aerospace seats 30 passengers and has a range of 200 kilometers, SAS wrote.

“Along with the entire industry, we are responsible for making air travel more sustainable,” CEO of SAS Anko van der Werff said in the statement.

“SAS is dedicated to transforming air travel so future generations can continue to connect the world and enjoy the benefits of travel – but with a more sustainable footprint,” he said.

The aircraft will be installed with a hybrid system enabling them to double their range, SAS wrote.

“This has the potential to be a significant step on SAS’ sustainability journey, enabling zero-emission flights on routes within Scandinavia,” the press release stated. 

SAS has previously been involved in the development of another electric aircraft, the ES-30, which it partnered with Heart Aerospace on in 2019.

“The electric airplane will be a good supplement to our existing fleet, serving shorter routes in Denmark, Norway and Sweden in a more sustainable way,” van der Werff said.

READ MORE: SAS cancels 1,700 flights in September and October 

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