Air Baltic takeover talks

  • 2008-04-08
  • Monika Hanley in cooperation with BNS

Photo: Rodolfo Clix

 Scandinavian airline SAS continues negotiations on taking over Latviannational carrier Air Baltic.

In an interview with the Latvian business magazine LietiskaDiena, Latvian head of the Scandinavian company Marek Pedersen said:"I think negotiations are in an early phase. There has been lot ofspeculation, but so far there have been no decisions. According to possiblescenarios, SAS can either purchase Air Baltic or continue its operations asbefore. I don't know. I think, we have to wait for this summer and then we willsee."

Pedersen expressed SAS's satisfaction with the currentpartnership: "Air Baltic is a very successful company which is developingand expanding dramatically. I am sure SAS is interested."

SAS is also interested in expanding their business in theregion. "So far we have benefited greatly from cooperation with Air Baltic,they support our flights' network, but if there were a couple of cities in Scandinavia that would justify direct connections, we wouldlaunch them ourselves. Air Baltic would do the same. Our cooperation does notprevent us from doing something on our own," the magazine quoted Pedersenas saying.

Latvian Transport Minister Ainars Slesers told Latvia's Diena daily newspaper earlier that the Latvian government will have tomake up its mind on Airbaltic soon, and that his proposal was not to sell thecarrier off for the time being.

"We are the biggest shareholders, and it is necessaryto invest in development," the minister said, adding that the decision hadto be made by the end of this year.

Last June SAS announced it would seek to obtain controllingstakes in Latvia's Air Baltic,holding 47.2 percent, and in Estonia'scarrier Estonian Air, in whichit holds 49 percent. The Latvian state currently holds 52.6 percent of Air Balticshares.