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Eastern Europe may be SAS's lifeboat

Jørgen Lindegaard, SAS’s group CEO, has turned his eyes towards Eastern Europe in hope of saving the weathered Scandinavian airline. Several smaller airlines may be interesting takeover candidates, confirmed Lindegaard.

SAS takes aim at being the main connection between Northern and Eastern Europe, and the new markets in the east may just be the SAS’s lifeboat.

“SAS do not want to give in. We have a place on the European market,” said Lindegaard to the Swedish financial paper Dagens Indstri.

KLM and Air France
SAS’s new strategy to increase the market share was introduced shortly after the merger of KLM and Air France was improved. SAS’s new focus on the Eastern Europe is Lindegaard’s recipe for survival next to the new European giant. Several experts have predicted that SAS may be acquired by Lufthansa as a part of the larger consolidation process which is currently taking place on the European market.

According to Lindegaard, it is particularly the Baltic region that is interesting, and SAS bought 49 percent of Estonian Air two weeks ago.

In addition, SAS has signalled that it wants to continue to negotiate with Russian authorities regarding landing permissions. Furthermore, both the Polish airline LOT and Air Lithuania have been for sale for some time, and Lindegaard stated that both companies are interesting under the “right circumstances.”

May reach 100 million
Lindegaard estimates that SAS has the opportunity to reach a market consisting of approximately 100 million people, and that these are travellers who do not appear to frequent the large airlines’ priority lists.

Lindegaard admits that SAS is facing challengers, but at the same time he claims that the company has reached rock bottom and is on the way up. However, he added that the market is improving very slowly indeed.

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