SAS to Leave Star Alliance, Join SkyTeam

Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) will leave Star Alliance and join SkyTeam after the Air France-KLM Group bought a major stake in the airline.

New investors

The shock news was confirmed by both SAS and the Air France-KLM Group in press statements.

As SAS was undergoing a reorganisation process in the United States under Chapter 11 bankruptcy regulations, the airline was looking for new investors.

The Air France-KLM Group, together with some investment companies and the Danish state, were the winning consortium during the exit financing solicitation process.

Air France-KLM will take up to a maximum 19.9% non-controlling stake in the share capital of a fully reorganised SAS.

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SAS Boeing 737-700 at Longyearbyen Airport. ©Paliparan

Move to SkyTeam

The news will also mean that SAS Scandinavian Airlines, which was one of the five founding members of Star Alliance together with Air Canada, Lufthansa, Thai Airways and United, will soon leave the alliance and join the rival SkyTeam alliance.

For SkyTeam, which has Delta Air Lines, Aeroméxico, Air France and Korean Air as its founding members, the addition of SAS to the alliance will be a much-welcomed strengthening of its network.

It will mean a big overhaul of European commercial aviation, given that Italy’s ITA Airways will likely exit SkyTeam and join Star Alliance after Lufthansa required a major stake in the airline.

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Views from a SAS Scandinavian Airlines aeroplane upon departure from Oslo. ©Paliparan


As the bankruptcy reorganisation plans of SAS have yet to be finalised and still require various approvals, including those from the European Commission as well as Swedish and US courts, it is not yet known when SAS will formally leave Star Alliance and join SkyTeam.

According to the SAS press statement, the airline is “intended to eventually join the SkyTeam alliance” subject to “relevant approvals and emergence from the chapter 11 process” but could not yet give a firm timeline.

SAS President and CEO Anko van der Werff said: “The agreed investment is a key milestone in our SAS FORWARD plan, and it shows that our new investors believe in SAS and our potential to remain at the forefront of the airline industry for years to come.

“Further, our move towards a partnership with SkyTeam determines a clear path forward for the company.

“Through the completion of this process and the opportunities presented by being part of SkyTeam, we will be able to further enhance SAS’ offerings for the benefit of our colleagues, customers and communities.”

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A SAS Scandinavian Airlines Boeing 737-700 at Stavanger airport, Norway. ©Paliparan

Air France-KLM stake

Air France-KLM plans to spend a total of 144.5 million USD in their investment in SAS.

The airline group will put 109.5 million USD into common shares and provide 35 million USD as secured convertible bonds to complete the investment.

Air France-KLM CEO Benjamin Smith said: “Air France/KLM looks forward to establishing strong commercial ties with SAS.

“With its well-established position in Scandinavia and strong brand, SAS offers tremendous potential to Air France-KLM.

This cooperation will allow Air France-KLM to enhance its position in the Nordics and improve connectivity for Scandinavian and European travellers.”

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SAS will soon join the likes of Air France, Delta and KLM in the SkyTeam Alliance. ©Paliparan


Air France-KLM has bought a stake in SAS, which will eventually lead to the departure of the Scandinavian airline from Star Alliance and its inclusion into SkyTeam.

As the reorganisation plans of SAS still require approval of the relevant authorities and the courts, it is not yet known when exactly SAS will leave Star Alliance and join SkyTeam.

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Koen works as a freelance journalist covering south-eastern Europe and is the founding father and editor-in-chief of Paliparan. As a contributor to some major Fleet Street newspapers and some lesser known publications in the Balkans, he travels thousands of miles each year for work as well as on his personal holidays. Whether it is horse riding in Kyrgyzstan’s Tian Shan mountains, exploring the backstreets of Bogotá, or sipping a glass of moschofilero in a Greek beachside taverna, Koen loves to immerse himself into the local culture, explore new places and eat and drink himself around the world.

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