Ian Sheppard/OSLO

Braathens SAFE has entered into a co-operation agreement with Northwest Airlines, strengthening its alliance with KLM and allowing it to link its Scandinavian routes to the US carrier's Detroit and Minneapolis hubs through Amsterdam's Schiphol and London Gatwick.

Anders Fougli, Braathens director of planning, says that the airline will probably operate some of KLM's existing routes to Scandinavia, with the Oslo and Amsterdam frequencies likely to increase from four to "six or seven" flights a day.

He adds that prospects with other KLM-partner airlines, such as Air UK and Kenya Airways, are "exciting". Northwest Airlines is also looking at direct flights to Oslo's new Gardermoen Airport when it opens in October 1998.

Meanwhile, Braathens, which has 51% of the Norwegian domestic market, faces new threats following the SAS acquisition of a 29% stake in local rival Wideroe from Fred Olsen. It has an option to purchase his remaining 34.2% share. The SAS move was sparked by concern that Braathens, which has an 18% stake in Wider¿e, would move to acquire a controlling share in the carrier.

The Norwegian Government is considering a new environmental tax on airline seats into the country from 1 April, 1998. The proposal would cost NKr142 ($20) for every seat operated into Norway, even if empty, and NKr71 for domestic seats. Gardermoen's traffic-development manager, Knut Stabaek, says that starting on a new route with the typical 30-35% load factor would prove "dramatically expensive-forcing airlines to use smaller aircraft".

Source: Flight International