Benjamin Smith, CEO of Air France-KLM, believes that Star Alliance has been a disservice to SAS. Now he reveals one of the strongest cards behind the winning bid.
– From our point of view, SAS had a disadvantage compared to many other companies, in that it was in an alliance, but it was not part of an alliance. joint projectjoint projectCollaboration/company, where costs and income are shared “In the most important market in the world, which is the transatlantic market,” said Benjamin Smith, CEO of Air France-KLM. CNN last week.
Last week, it became known that Franco-Dutch-KLM Airlines is moving as major owner of SAS.
In cooperation with two financial investors, Air France-KLM was preferred over US asset manager Apollo Global.
The deal also means that SAS will leave Star Alliance, and become part of the alliance led by Air France-KLM and Skyteam.
This was also highlighted by the SAS CEO when the new owners were introduced.
– The move towards a partnership with Skyteam shows a clear future direction for the company. By completing this process and the opportunities that result from being part of Skyteam, we will be able to improve the SAS offer even further for the benefit of our employees, our customers and our local communities, says CEO Anko van der Werff.
But it’s not just alliances that are taken into consideration when you have to move between Europe and America.
Within the three main alliances, Star Alliance, SkyTeam and Oneworld, many airlines have organized themselves into joint ventures with closer cooperation, so-called joint ventures.
This cooperation often involves shared departures (code sharing), adapting departure and travel times to subsequent connections as well as the distribution of income and costs.
- In the Star Alliance he has Lufthansa-Set such collaborations with United and Air Canada.
- In one world he has British AirwaysAmerican Airlines, Finnair, Iberia, Aer Lingus and a similar agreement level.
- On Team Sky cooperate Air France, KLM, Delta and Virgin Atlantic likewise.
SAS flies from Scandinavia to several U.S. cities, but is not part of a joint venture.
The head of Air France-KLM intends to change that.
– Together with our partner Delta, we have plans to include SAS in our joint venture, says Smith.
This includes regulatory approvals, which may take some time, he adds.
Its weight is heavy
When Virgin Atlantic entered into the Air France-KLM and Delta partnership in 2020, advertiser Companies that account for 23 percent of transatlantic freight and passenger traffic.
In total, they estimated the collaboration’s annual sales at about $13 billion.
Such a collaboration must have had a significant impact on the SAS camp in searching for new owners, according to Smith.
“One of the most important things for the stakeholder(s) of SAS was to partner with a group that was interested in, or wanted to invite SAS into a joint project, and that was not the situation for SAS today with Star Alliance,” says the senior flight official.
Press contact Tonje Sund at SAS says the company has a very positive outlook on the many opportunities that lie in the new ownership structure and as a future member of Skyteam.
Meanwhile, it is tight-lipped about what a joint venture with Air France-KLM could mean for customers and SAS.
– Operational details and any future joint ventures, if any, we will return to later in the process. Beyond that, we have no comments at this time, Sund tells E24.
– Not at first
If the US Bankruptcy Court approves SAS’s rescue plan and the winning bid, Air France-KLM will obtain a 19.9 percent stake in the new SAS.
However, interest from Air France-KLM was not clear, according to the CEO.
– We looked at SAS a while ago, and it’s nothing new. It wasn’t first on our list, but when we looked at it more, we decided to go ahead, Smith tells CNN.
– Four axes
He points out that Air France-KLM already has an important position in Scandinavia.
On the other hand, SAS can still develop and give the company a stronger position in Europe, he believes.
“We believe that having four global centers is important,” says Smith.
Flytoppen doesn’t think it will be difficult Three government partners and ownersThree government partners and ownersThe Danish state will own about 25.8 percent in the new SAS company. The French state and the Dutch state respectively own 28.6 and 9.3 percent of Air France-KLM.Denmark, France and the Netherlands upon completion of the agreement.
– What we want to do with SAS will bring many benefits to countries that depend on the air traffic contributed by SAS. He says it is positive if we can improve the SAS situation, as we did in Amsterdam and Paris.
– Market insurance
The shareholders’ agreement between the new owners of Air France-KLM allows it to increase its shareholding after two years.
– We have an opportunity within two years to obtain a larger share. “We feel that 19 percent is a great way to secure the market, bring SAS into Skyteam, and begin a plan that can develop SAS to its full potential,” says Smith.
The Danish state, which before the bidding process secured the right to own about 25 percent of the new SAS, intends to acquire 25.8 percent.
SAS Chairman Carsten Dilling predicted that only Air France-KLM and the Danish state would be owners of SAS in the long term.
– But we are probably talking about a process that could last four to seven years in the future before everything is implemented, Dilling tells the Danish newspaper. Berlingsky.
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