Distressed carrier Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) is leaving Star Alliance, the global airline alliance it helped found more than two decades ago in favor of the SkyTeam alliance.
SAS, which is the biggest carrier in Scandinavia, made the announcement after agreeing to a new restructuring deal that will see Air France-KLM, which is a member of SkyTeam, take a major stake in the airline along with U.S. investment firm Castlelake and the Danish state. The move will happen once the deal is approved by regulatory bodies and finalized.
Other members of SkyTeam, one of three major airline alliances, include Delta Air Lines, Korean Air, Virgin Atlantic, and more.
In a message to partners, SAS President and CEO Anko van der Werff confirmed the news, writing that the investment will “provide us with the financial resources to be an even stronger airline for our customers and communities across Scandinavia and other markets.”
“In connection with this milestone, we intend to eventually join the airline alliance SkyTeam, at which time we will exit the Star Alliance. While we are proud to have been a founding member of the Star Alliance, we are confident joining SkyTeam will further strengthen our customer offerings,” van der Werff said.
While van der Werff added that nothing in the short-term future will change at SAS, Air France-KLM said that it expects to tie SAS flights into its own operations out of its European hubs and to use the investment to grow its footprint in the Nordics. The expectation is still that SAS will remain its own separate brand for the time being.
“This cooperation will allow Air France-KLM to enhance its position in the Nordics and improve connectivity for Scandinavian and European travelers. We look forward to being a part of this new chapter in SAS’ history and thank the board of SAS for their trust,” Benjamin Smith, CEO of Air France-KLM said.
SAS had been in serious financial trouble for a while now. In 2022, the carrier filed for bankruptcy in the U.S. and launched its SAS Forward plan, which called for 7.5 billion Swedish kroner ($675 million) in cost cuts and new equity that would help keep the airline in business.