In deciding to withdraw from Hong Kong as of March, Scandinavian carrier SAS is pointing fingers at both Chek Lap Kok's airport charges and Cathay Pacific's dominance.

SAS is not content to blame its retreat entirely on poor traffic, although it admits that has been "terrible" over the past 18 months." We can't keep posting those kind of losses," concedes SAS.

Per Moller Jensen, SAS general manager, praised Chek Lap Kok as an airport, but described its charges as "scary". Only Tokyo's Narita and Osaka's Kansai are higher, a point underscored when Singapore slashed Changi airport's fees 10% in January. Jensen urged Hong Kong to consider ways to use its airport as a more competitive tool to attract business.

Vagn Sorenson, SAS senior vice-president, noted that business travel to Hong Kong had fallen at the same time as it was rising in Singapore. He told reporters SAS might have stayed in Hong Kong "if Cathay had negotiated a better deal with us". The two airlines find themselves in different global alliances: Cathay finally joining oneworld, while SAS is a founder member of Star, with its developing links to Japan and possibly Singapore. After its Hong Kong withdrawal, SAS plans no other changes in Asian services. Varig, Transaero, and Grand Air have also left Hong Kong for differing reasons.

Source: Airline Business