SAS boss leaves amidst losses

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Long-troubled Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) needs to look for another new boss, after its tough-talking chief executive Mats Jansson announced on Tuesday that he would leave the company this fall.

Mats Jansson is leaving the helm of SAS. PHOTO: Star Alliance

Jansson took over the helm at SAS four years ago and has been known as a no-nonsense boss who faced off against SAS’ myriad unions and government owners when the airline was at its most turbulent.

It since has seemed to enter a period of relative calm and recently was hailed as one of the most on-time airlines in Europe. Jansson managed to push through major cost cutting programs and also raised new capital, not least from three of its major shareholders, the governments of Norway, Sweden and Denmark.

The airline continues to suffer financial losses, though, and still faces tough competition from start-up airlines that aren’t burdened by SAS’ labour contracts and overhead expenses. Analysts noted that Jansson had not managed to restore SAS to profitability.

Jansson said in a statement that he now thinks ‘the time feels right” for a new president and chief executive to take over.

“Next year I turn 60 and that is also when my contract expires,” Jansson said. “I believe I have done my share for SAS. There are still great challenges to come for SAS, but the platform is in place.”

He said his decision to leave “was not easy” and claimed he had received “strong support” from SAS’ board, its management team and “in particular, from all the SAS employees, who do a fantastic job and who have truly given their all to SAS during this highly critical and financially difficult situation.”

SAS Chairman Fritz Schur said Jansson had worked “exhaustively day and night” to lead SAS through a difficult period. Schur said the board already had begun efforts to recruit a new president and CEO.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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