Accession to the SkyTeam alliance will provide Scandinavian operator SAS with greater network reach in various ways, chief executive Anko van der Werff believes.

Speaking during a first-quarter briefing, he said SAS had enjoyed a good relationship with Star Alliance, of which it was a founder member.

“We equally have to be honest,” he says. “With Star, we’ve never been able to negotiate our way into what is, de facto, the new form [of alliances] where you can drive value as airlines – and that is in joint ventures.”

He says alliances have evolved from being “broad” tie-ups between carriers, to become “far more integrated” with “deeper relationships”, either through joint ventures, or joint ventures with equity involvement.

SAS A330-c-SAS

Source: SAS

SAS will withdraw from Star, and join SkyTeam, following equity investment from Air France-KLM

Switching from Star to SkyTeam, as a result of Air France-KLM’s participation in the recapitalisation of SAS, will provide the network reach previously absent, van der Werff argues.

“That will unlock, hopefully in multiple jurisdictions worldwide, something that SAS – and also SAS customers – have never been really used to,” he says.

“Alliances are great to connect. But you cannot have schedule alignment, capacity alignment, with your partners.

“So we’ll have, for instance, throughout the day, multiple frequencies at various times.”

He says corporate contracts will be included, and the SAS loyalty scheme EuroBonus will be “far more closely aligned with a future set-up”.

“So that’s really big,” he adds.

While regulatory approval for joint-venture involvement is likely to take time, van der Werff says SAS is already negotiating an expanded codeshare agreement which could emerge this summer.

“Not all the network, not all price points on that network, not all destinations in that network, were being served to SAS,” he says.

“Through negotiations we’re currently having with Air France-KLM and some of its partners, we do believe we’ll have access to a broader set of the world.”