SAS CEO leaves airline after 10 years at the helm

STOCKHOLM (AP) — The CEO of Scandinavian Airlines, Rickard Gustafson, said Monday he is leaving the company after 10 years at the helm to take up a job with one of Sweden’s largest industrial groups.

In a statement, the 56-year-old Swede said: “time has come for me to pass on the baton.” It will happen during the first half of 2021, he added.

SAS “is well-positioned to lead the aviation industry toward a more sustainable future once the pandemic is under control,” Gustafson said.

SAS board chairman Carsten Dillion said the airline “is still in a critical — but stable — position” and added they had immediately started the process to appoint a replacement.

Like many major airlines, SAS has been in financial distress during the pandemic. Last year, the company’s shareholders agreed on an aid package worth 14.25 billion kronor ($1.7 billion), securing the carrier’s survival.

The governments of Sweden and Denmark, which own shares in the airline, are partly financing the recapitalization plan. The aid package is also financially supported by its third main owner, the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, a Swedish public and private foundation.

It includes issuing new shares and converting bonds into shares.

Before joining SAS, Gustafson headed Danish-Swedish insurance company Codan/Trygg Hansa and he has held several positions within General Electric.

In a separate statement, Goteborg-based SKF, the Swedish bearing and seal manufacturing group said Gustafson would be the new CEO of the company, replacing Alrik Danielson.

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