SAS CEO to step down

Mats Jansson, President and CEO of troubled Scandinavian airline SAS, has announced that he plans to leave his position in the autumn.

SAS CEO to step down

“Next year, I turn 60 and that is also when my contract expires. I believe that I have done my share for SAS,” Jansson wrote in a company press release on Tuesday.

The board has begun the search for a suitable replacement for Jansson, who has held the position since January 2007.

SAS has faced significant financial challenges for a number of years in the face of competition from low cost carriers such as Norwegian and Ryanair as well as the impact of the global economic slowdown and Icelandic ash cloud. Massive savings and austerity programmes have been carried out and new billions have been attained from owner rights issues on a number of occasions.

“My decision to leave the company was not easy. It has been four exciting and demanding years to run a company in such a dynamic sector, where no two days are the same. I have received strong support from the Board, the 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,” said Mats Jansson.

Chairman Fritz Schur will lead the work to identify a successor.

“During the past four years, Mats has worked exhaustively day and night to lead SAS through a difficult period. His efforts have been tremendous, both quantitatively and qualitatively. However, during recent weeks I have understood that he has been contemplating whether or not it would be the right decision for himself, as well as the company, to remain onboard while SAS enters the next phase.”

In April the firm announced a loss of 972 million kronor ($135 million) for the first quarter 2010, slightly lower than the 979 million kronor the firm posted in the corresponding period of 2009.

SAS is majority owned by the governments of Sweden, Denmark and Norway although the Swedish government announced in February its intention to prepare the sale of its 21.4 percent stake. Jansson said in March that the airline would be better off sold or merged with another airline.

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‘We agree to disagree’: Still no progress in marathon SAS strike talks

By lunchtime on Friday, talks between the Scandinavian airline SAS and unions representing striking pilots were still stuck on "difficult issues".

'We agree to disagree': Still no progress in marathon SAS strike talks

“We agree that we disagree,” Roger Klokset, from the Norwegian pilots’ union, said at lunchtime outside the headquarters of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise in Stockholm, where talks are taking place. “We are still working to find a solution, and so long as there is still some point in continuing negotiations, we will do that.” 

Mats Ruland, a mediator for the Norwegian government, said that there were “still several difficult issues which need to be solved”. 

At 1pm on Friday, the two sides took a short break from the talks for lunch, after starting at 9am. On Thursday, they negotiated for 15 hours, breaking off at 1am on Friday morning. 

READ ALSO: What’s the latest on the SAS plane strike?

Marianne Hernæs, SAS’s negotiator on Friday told journalists she was tired after sitting at the negotiating table long into the night. 

“We need to find a model where we can meet in the middle and which can ensure that we pull in the income that we are dependent on,” she said. 

Klokset said that there was “a good atmosphere” in the talks, and that the unions were sticking together to represent their members.

“I think we’ve been extremely flexible so far. It’s ‘out of this world’,’ said Henrik Thyregod, with the Danish pilots’ union. 

“This could have been solved back in December if SAS had not made unreasonable demands on the pilots,” Klokset added. 

The strike, which is now in its 12th day, has cost SAS up to 130m kronor a day, with 2,550 flights cancelled by Thursday, affecting 270,000 passengers.