SAS service grounded

Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) will halt its flights to Bangkok on Monday, ending more than 60 years of service linking the Nordic countries and Thailand.

Until recently, SAS operated a daily non-stop flight between Bangkok and Copenhagen on an Airbus 340-300 jet with 245 seats in three classes - business, premium economy and economy.

SAS will turn to Thai Airways International to carry its passengers to Thailand through a code-share agreement struck recently on three Scandinavia-bound routes operated by THAI. The Thai flag carrier, which was founded with the help of SAS 53 years ago, operates three non-stop flights - Bangkok-Copenhagen, Bangkok-Stockholm and Bangkok-Oslo.

This was considered a better business proposition for SAS, which has high unit costs and poor labour productivity, leading to loss-making and a weak balance sheet, said industry sources.

As part of the decision, SAS closed its Suvarnabhumi airport office but will maintain its city office, whose operations have been scaled down with several employees laid off.

THAI offers daily service to Copenhagen and Stockholm and five weekly flights to Oslo. From July 1 to Aug 18, it will add two flights per week on Bangkok-Copenhagen.

Rickard Gustafson, SAS's president and chief executive, said the code-share agreement underscores Thailand's importance for Scandinavian business and leisure travellers.

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Writer: Boonsong Kositchotethana
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