RIGA - The Latvian national air carrier airBaltic has announced it intends to buy out the shares in the airline currently owned by SAS AB.
In an agreement signed between SAS Group and airBaltic management, the Scandinavian airline will sell its 47.2 percent holding in the company.
The transaction is expected to be closed on January 31.
The president and CEO of airBaltic, Bertolt Flick, said management made the decision after careful assessment of the current market climate.
"Even in this difficult economic climate, the management believes in the company's future and has decided to buy the shares which currently belong to SAS AB," Flick said.
Flick confirmed airBaltic would continue its commercial cooperation with SAS AB, with which it shares a longstanding strategic partnership.
"We are very pleased that we have reached a solution for the company's ownership structure so we can continue and develop the company as the best of Baltic region. We are also happy to announce that airBaltic will continue its commercial cooperation with the SAS Group between Riga and Scandinavia," he said.
The sale has also been welcomed by SAS management.
"This divestment is in line with our strategy not to maintain minority holdings in our airlines. We are pleased to have built airBaltic to a strong Baltic airline in SAS ownership and we are confident that the new owners will continue to develop the company in a positive direction," said SAS Group President and CEO Mats Jansson.
This latest move follows the recent ongoing expansion of the airBaltic Corporation.
Last month the carrier opened a new office in the Estonian capital city of Tallinn.
Flick described the opening as an important step in expanding the company's operations throughout the Baltic states.
"The opening of our office in Tallinn is a targeted step forward for our company, because demand for our services is on the rise in Estonia. The new office will make airBaltic far more accessible to the people of Estonia, and our passengers will be able to receive our services and consultations there," he said.
In a new agreement reached with British Airways, announced last month, airBaltic passengers will now have access to a wide range of destinations in the United States, Canada, Africa, South America, India, as well as exotic locations such as Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda.
The partnership allows passengers travelling during this year's winter season to purchase dual airBaltic and British Airways tickets to a range of international destinations for a special promotional price.
AirBaltic Coropration is a joint-stock company established in 1995 and consists of a fleet of 28 aircraft.
The airline offers direct flights out of Riga and Vilnius to a number of European destinations.
A direct service between Kaliningrad and Copenhagen is also in operation.