The news was quite sudden and for many, including myself, unforeseen. SAS, Scandinavian Airlines, has announced that amidst the company restructuring that is ongoing it will be leaving its current airline alliance, Star Alliance, to move over to SkyTeam. Here’s why and how it’ll change the current balance in European aviation.
- The State Of Affairs at Scandinavian
- Why Will Scandinavian Airlines Leave Star Alliance?
- Scandinavian Airlines Replacing ITA Airways?
The State Of Affairs at SAS?
SAS has been in difficult situation financially since covid hit. The financial issues became even bigger once Russia closed its airspace to all European carriers. This last event severely hindered the airline’s stream of revenue on flights from and to the far east. Suddenly they were no longer competitive and they have since struggled to recover.
To make matters worse, the Swedish government, part owner of the airline, decided against injecting new funds and announced its plan to divest. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Following this event SAS has entered Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection in the US and is undergoing massive company restructuring.
The airline had to return part of its wide body planes to lessors and sell off others to make ends meet.
Why Will SAS Scandinavian Airlines Leave Star Alliance?
So why did the airline suddenly announce that it’ll be leaving Star Alliance to move over to SkyTeam? The reason is not all that complicated at all. Scandinavian Airlines, SAS, has finally found new investors that will inject fresh cash into the business and hopefully help it return to profitability.
The Air France-KLM group along with other 2 investment firms will be investing in SAS. Air France and KLM are two of the founding members of the SkyTeam airline alliance. Therefore it is only logical that if they invest in an airline they will expect it to enter their “sphere of influence”.
Clearly this is not something that will happen overnight. It will take some time to get approval and become reality. The interesting aspect is that SAS is, or better will be, making the opposite switch to another European airline. A switch that rebalances somehow the landscape and balance of power of European aviation. More on this below.
Scandinavian Airlines Replacing ITA Airways in SkyTeam?
The other airline that in the coming months and years will be changing alliance, if all goes to plan, is ITA Airways. Currently the Italian flag carrier is a SkyTeam member, however that will probably change soon.
The Italian carrier, similarly to SAS, has found a new investor: Lufthansa. So just as SAS is moving to SkyTeam in order to align with its new investor Air France-KLM, ITA is doing the same.
Effectively Scandinavian Airlines will be filling the member void left by the departure of the Italian airline and balancing the forces between Air France-KLM and the Lufthansa Group.