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Scandinavian Airline SAS Confirms it Will Join Skyteam Alliance On September 1

Scandinavian Airline SAS Confirms it Will Join Skyteam Alliance On September 1

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The Scandinavian airline SAS has confirmed that it will fully join the Skyteam alliance on September 1 and has promised a ‘seamless’ transition for its EuroBonus frequent flyer members who currently enjoy benefits through the carrier’s membership of the rival Star Alliance.

We already knew that SAS planned to exit Star Alliance on August 31 and then start offering some benefits through the Skyteam alliance to EuroBonus members, although even just a few weeks ago, the airline wasn’t able to confirm when it would become a fully-fledged member of the alliance.

On Monday, however, SAS said it had managed to strike deals with Skyteam’s 19 other member airlines to allow it to take full advantage of the alliance.

SAS is leaving Star Alliance in favour of Skyteam on the back of an equity investment from fellow Skyteam member, the Air France-KLM Group, which will allow the financially embattled carrier to exit Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the next few months.

The airline announced a financial transformation programme dubbed SAS FORWARD in February 2022, but when the Swedish state refused to pump additional equity to the tune of US $834 million into the beleaguered carrier, SAS decided to file for bankruptcy protection in the United States in June 2022.

More than a year later, in October 2023, SAS said it had struck a major equity investment with a consortium of companies, which will involve the Air France-KLM Group taking a 19.9% non-controlling stake in SAS at a cost of more than $144 million.

Other players in the consortium are the investment firm Castlelake, which took a 32% stake and the Danish government, which holds onto nearly 26% of SAS.

As part of the $1.17 billion rescue deal, SAS agreed to leave Star Alliance for Skyteam so as to be closer to the Air France-KLM Group.

SAS says its EuroBonus members will immediately be able to enjoy alliance-wide benefits once the transition takes place on September 1. EuroBonus Silver members will be recognised at the SkyTeam Elite level, while Gold and Diamond members will be recognised as Elite Plus members of Skyteam.

“We are very excited to now have reached this pivotal milestone in SAS’ alliance transition journey,” commented Anko van der Werff, the president and CEO of SAS.

“SAS customers will benefit from SkyTeam’s strong global presence in many of the world’s major aviation hubs and from its focus on strategic partnerships and innovative sustainability initiatives,” van der Werff continued.

Matt’s take

The investment offered by the Air France-KLM Group was a real lifesaver for SAS, and without it, it’s unclear how the airline could have continued, at least in its present form.

Air France-KLM chief executive Benjamin Smith has previously said the deal would ‘enhance’ the group’s position in the Nordics and that SAS had ‘tremendous potential’, so expect the Franco-Dutch airline group to get its teeth stuck into SAS once the airline leaves Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection around June 2024.

Leaving Star Alliance for Skyteam seemed like a pretty obvious requirement of the rescue deal, although some EuroBonus members might find that the benefits offered by Skyteam aren’t as good as Star Alliance.

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