Peter Conway/LONDON

SAS looks set to become the latest European carrier to turn its cargo division into a fully independent company, purchasing belly capacity from the parent airline. The decision is expected to be taken at a board meeting in May, with the new company coming into existence at the end of the year.

SAS is following in the footsteps of Lufthansa, its partner in the Star Alliance, which started the trend in 1995 by splitting out Lufthansa Cargo into a separate divisional company with its own management and accounts. The SAirGroup has also separated out the Swissair cargo business, which now sits within its SAirLogistics business.

SAS and Lufthansa have moved increasingly closer in recent years on the cargo front, with SAS abandoning its own freighter operations in favour of joint ventures with Lufthansa. It now shares five freighter flights a week from Gothenburg and Frankfurt to Osaka in co-operation with Lufthansa and Japan Airlines, and wet-leases a Lufthansa Boeing MD-11F for its own thrice-weekly freighter service to Hong Kong.

SAS is also proceeding with sales and marketing co-operation with Lufthansa Cargo in Europe. The two carriers named single cargo managers for Scandinavia and Finland in January and there are plans to extend this throughout Europe by the middle of the year. The co-operation allows each carrier to sell the other's capacity and to have complete access to the other's accounts, though there are no plans for a unified sales force. "There is no legal link and we are still using separate IT systems," says SAS Cargo.

- Lufthansa Cargo and Deutsche Post have announced first details of their strategic alliance plans. The two companies will each pool their interests in express parcel operator DHL International. These stakes will be held in a new company to be called Aerologic, managed by the German postal giant. They will also collaborate on developing new joint e-business ventures.

Source: Airline Business