The Norwegian government declined last year to take a new ownership stake in Scandinavian Airlines (SAS), but now a new Labour-led government is open to making a comeback. The goal, according to Labour’s spokesperson on transport issues, is to make sure the airline survives the Corona crisis.
“I think the (recently defeated) government has been very passive at a time when SAS and its Swedish and Danish owners were very interested in getting Norway back on the ownership side last year,” Labour’s Sverre Myrli told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) earlier this week. Norway sold off its stake in SAS in 2018 after a long process launched by the earlier Labour government.
Now Myrli thinks state ownership in the troubled carrier is important again. “I absolutely think the Norwegian state should talk with Sweden and Denmark about whether Norway should have a stronger engagement in SAS,” he told DN. “The most important thing is to have a strong SAS.”
The airline recently reported another huge loss and it’s also been trying to reduce its numbers of pilots and cabin crew in line with flight demand. Norway’s outgoing conservative government was skeptical to state ownership, also refusing to invest in Norwegian Air but offering it huge loan guarantees also.
SAS catered to business travelers who no longer are flying nearly as much as before the Corona virus hit. The leisure market also remains sluggish. When SAS reported another billion-kroner loss recently it also had to confirm that most of its capital has once again been wiped out. Analysts have predicted that SAS will need fresh capital before Christmas.