SAS and its regional associate, Skyways, in which it owns a 25% stake, are fighting back against Norwegian intruder Braathens in the Swedish market, with the purchase of two domestic carriers.

Having nipped in the bud the ambitions of Gothenburg start-up CityAirline by taking it over before it was in a position to begin operations, Skyways has now also agreed to acquire smaller regional Air Express. The deal is expected to be completed within six months.

Norrkoping-based Air Express operates two Beech 1900Ds and one 1900C on a network linking Norrkoping into Stockholm Arlanda, Gothenburg and the island of Visby, and also flies to Helsinki and Riga. A new route is likely to be opened to Oslo's new Gardermoen Airport.

Major shareholder Thomas Sjo says that Air Express will keep its name, but will integrate schedules and participate in the SAS EuroBonus frequent flier scheme. Any future decision on expanding the network and the fleet will be taken by Skyways, he says.

The Skyways move comes after Braathens took over Transwede and, more recently, Malmö Aviation, challenging the virtual SAS monopoly.

Source: Flight International