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SAS set to leave Star Alliance for SkyTeam after Air France-KLM deal

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A Scandinavian Airlines Boeing 737-883(WL), with registry LN-RRL, sports the Star Alliance livery at Oslo Airport in 2013. (Photo by aeroprints.com, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) is poised for a major alliance shift, preparing to depart the Star Alliance and join the SkyTeam group after Air France-KLM acquires a significant stake in the airline.

The move comes as part of SAS’s restructuring efforts following its filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in July 2022.

In October 2023, Air France-KLM announced plans to invest in SAS, initially taking a 19.9% stake alongside other investors including Castlelake, Lind, and the Danish state. However, negotiations are now underway for Air France-KLM to increase its ownership beyond the initial investment.

“Air France-KLM is pushing through negotiations to take a majority stake in Scandinavian airline SAS,” reports Helwing Villamizar of Airways Magazine.

SAS is expected to emerge from bankruptcy by the end of Q2 2024, around June.

Upon exiting bankruptcy, SAS will leave the Star Alliance that it helped found and instead join the rival SkyTeam alliance anchored by Air France-KLM and Delta Air Lines.

“According to One Mile at a Time’s Ben Schlappig, SAS is scheduled to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection by the end of Q2 2024, estimated around June,” writes Villamizar. “In addition, AF-KLM CEO Ben Smith has indicated that SK may switch from airline alliance Star Alliance to SkyTeam.”

The alliance shift is a major consequence of the Air France-KLM investment, aiming to better integrate SAS into the SkyTeam network and joint ventures like the transatlantic partnership with Delta and Virgin Atlantic.

As noted by BNN Breaking, “SAS’s anticipated participation in the transatlantic joint venture…underscores the strategic importance of this partnership. It not only expands SkyTeam’s footprint but also enhances its competitiveness in the transatlantic market.”

Network integration is already underway, with SAS launching a new route from Copenhagen to Delta’s Atlanta hub this summer. However, authorities may require slot concessions at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport to approve the deal due to overlap between SAS and KLM.

The acquisition marks a setback for Star Alliance, which loses a major European carrier, while boosting SkyTeam’s presence across Scandinavia.

As aviation analysts observe, the deal signals evolving global alliance dynamics as airlines pursue new partnerships to expand networks and improve efficiency in an intensely competitive market.

Written by
Dirk Andrei Salcedo

An aviation enthusiast turned creator of the top aviation news portal in the Philippines, Dirk has a deep passion for everything that flies. When he's not keeping his finger on the pulse of the industry, he also volunteers with a major humanitarian organization, impacting people on the ground and in the sky.

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