Competition prompts Snowflake to delay Norwegian plan
Message: SAS budget division Snowflake has shelved plans to expand into Norway this year, citing tough competition and a lack of suitable routes.
Snowflake, which already operates from SAS' Copenhagen and Stockholm hubs, had earlier stated that it would commence services from Oslo Gardermoen in time for the winter season, probably to around half a dozen cities.
It has now postponed the move, although the carrier is still intending to set up a Norwegian operation by summer 2004.
Snowflake would have faced stiff competition at Oslo from budget operators Norwegian and Sterling. SAS also already has its own Oslo-based operator, Braathens, further restricting the number of routes potentially available to Snowflake.
"It is of no interest to us to operate to the same city pairs as Braathens," says Snowflake production and operation chief Mats Sigurdson. "What we've been thinking about is which destinations [we can serve]. And for the winter season we didn't come up with any promising prospects.
"Competition is fierce. We need to be able to make a good case before we enter Norway."
Snowflake currently operates to 11 destinations from Stockholm - expanding to 13 this winter - and eight from Copenhagen. Sigurdson says that, since the airline's spin-off from mainline SAS operations in March, cabin load-factors have been "really promising".
Expansion into Norway will depend on Snowflake's being able to pin down a network of strong summer destinations, he adds, saying that the airline is still "really interested" in moving into Oslo in time for the summer 2004 season.
SAS has also appointed a new chief to head Snowflake. Ludmilla Lindecrantz has succeeded Eva-Karin Dahl who has taken maternity leave from the airline. A spokesman for Snowflake says that Lindecrantz's appointment is permanent.
Dahl, the former head of SAS' frequent-flyer programme, played a key role in the setting-up of Snowflake which operates to southern European destinations from Copenhagen and Stockholm.
Sources: Air Transport Intelligence news