SAS chief seeks expansion: Developing links with Swiss and Austrian carriers tops list

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The Independent Online
STOCKHOLM (Reuter) - Jan Stenberg, chief executive-designate of Scandinavian Airlines System, said he would keep the company focused on its core activities and was in favour of pursuing new or expanded alliances.

Mr Stenberg, a Swede, said the group comprising SAS, Swissair and Austrian Airlines - the European Quality Alliance - was a good starting point.

An alliance could come in various forms, he said. 'As a matter of fact one partnership already in existence is the EQA . . . I think we should take all necessary measures to see whether that should be expanded and deepened.'

He said there were no plans at present to make any new acquisitions.

Mr Stenberg is currently deputy managing director of the Swedish telecoms group Ericsson and will take over on 1 April from SAS's interim chief executive, Jan Reinaas.

Mr Stenberg, who has a reputation in Swedish business circles as a cost-cutter, said he did not know if this was the reason why he had been chosen for the post. But he chose to detail how he had shaped reforms. In the early 1980s, for example, he restructured Ericsson's cable business. 'It resulted in the closedown of factories, concentration and a substantial increase in productivity and profitability.'

When Mr Reinaas took over last September he began a wide-ranging cost-cutting plan. SAS has already closed several routes, reduced staff numbers, sold aircraft and brought in a pilot productivity programme.