SAS Group has agreed to sell a majority of Spanish operation Spanair to a group of Catalonian investors, and its minority stake in Air Baltic to the Latvian carrier's management.

Details of both agreements have been released today by the Scandinavian company. It plans to remain a core shareholder of Spanair, but is completely divesting its 47.2% Air Baltic share.

SAS Group, which is aiming to finalise the Spanair deal by 31 January, identifies the buyers as Consorci de Turisme de Barcelona and Catalana d'Iniciatives.

It says: "In the proposed transaction structure, SAS will remain as a core shareholder in Spanair, and act as its industrial partner to assist in the implementation of the strategic plan and further strengthen Spanair's position in Spain and its position as leading carrier in Barcelona."

SAS and the would-be buyers have agreed to remain silent on the terms and conditions of the tentative deal until it has been concluded.

Spanair had been the subject of a previous divestment attempt by SAS Group, which failed after a lack of interest from buyers. Spanair is a member of Star Alliance, like SAS Group's main division Scandinavian Airlines.

SAS Group has also been trying to sell its Air Baltic stake after being unable to obtain a majority share in the Riga-based regional operator.

It has today signed an agreement to transfer the stake to the airline's management team for Ls14 million ($28 million). SAS expects to receive the payment by 31 January 2009 and to generate a capital gain of SKr175 million ($22.7 million).

"This divestment is in line with our strategy not to maintain minority holdings in our airlines," says SAS Group CEO Mats Jansson.

Air Baltic chief Bertolt Flick says the airline will continue its commercial co-operation with SAS Group between Riga and Scandinavia.

It operates Boeing 757s and 737s, as well as Fokker 50s but the carrier is to receive eight Bombardier Q400s as part of a Q400 compensation agreement brokered by SAS.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news