Scandinavian airline SAS aims to sell its ground handling unit in a move aimed at restoring profitability, a source familiar with the situation said on Friday.The airline, which has been burdened with high costs and intense competition from rivals Norwegian Air and Ryanair this week announced plans to slash costs and sell assets.SAS said asset sales would bring in around SEK3 billion kronor (USD$450 million) to help boost its balance sheet. But the airline gave no details of what would be sold.Ground Handling, with revenues of SEK1.3 billion kronor in 2011, was one unit widely expected to be sold, and a source with knowledge of the situation said SAS had already contacted potential buyers."They are looking at selling it, that is very concrete," said the source, who declined to be identified, noting that a so-called request for proposal (RFP) had been sent out to prospective buyers."No decisions have been taken yet," a SAS spokeswoman said, declining to comment further.SAS, which reports third-quarter results next Thursday, has previously looked at selling ground handling. In 2008, it decided to hold on to the unit until further notice.It has previously said it would also look at selling more of its property portfolio.SAS has already sold assets worth about SEK100 billion kronor in the last 12 years and has not made a full year profit since 2007. It has rarely been in the black over the last decade.A series of restructuring plans have seen it cut staff and sell non-core operations such as its hotel business and Jetpak logistics unit. But it still lost SEK1.6 billion kronor before tax last year.The latest plan aims to boost profits by SEK3 billion kronor and for asset sales of the same amount. Media reports have said SAS's Eurobonus mileage scheme was up for sale.The Eurobonus scheme had 2.8 million members at the end of 2011. SAS does not break out revenue or profit figures for the scheme.Pilots at its Norwegian unit Widerøe have offered to buy that business should it be put up for sale.Widerøe flew around 2.5 million passengers in 2011, generating revenues of SEK3.8 billion kronor and a profit before tax and non-recurring items of SEK430 million kronor.SAS as a whole made a SEK94 million kronor pre-tax profit before non-recurring items in the year. Source: Reuters
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