Monday, 30 March 2020

Chief Financial Officer at SAS Torbjorn Wist quits as coronavirus crisis grounds most of the carriers aircraft.

The Chief Financial Officer of Scandinavian Airline System - SAS has decided to quit the company as scores of aircraft are grounded during the current coronavirus pandemic that has decimated European air travel. 

Torbjorn Wist will leave the struggling airline in September - if not before with plans to take on a similar position at the shipping group Wallenius Wilhelmsen.  “This has not been an easy decision given the current market turmoil, but this is a result of a process that started well before COVID-19 became a global issue,” Wist said in a statement, adding “Let there be no doubt that my one and only priority in the coming months is to help ensure SAS’ continued role as a critical infrastructure provider in Scandinavia” whilst requesting the SAS board look sooner rather than later to look for a replacement.  It's not known if the airlines plan to reduce the salaries of top-level management during the crisis had input into Wist decision to leave. 

SAS confirmed that it had "initiated the process of finding his successor and Wist will continue in his current role during his notice period, or until a successor is in place."

The current crisis has forced the airline to ground most of its fleet and temporarily lay off around  90% of its workforce staff. However, like other airlines around Europe, including airBaltic and Lufthansa, it has been looking at using some of its grounded passenger aircraft to transport cargo.  The first of these special flights was from Stockholm to Chicago, in co-operation with a Danish logistics firm. The aircraft mainly transported medical gear, medicines and temperature-sensitive goods.

“This was the first such flight,” a spokesperson for the airline said and confirmed it wouldn't be just a one-off operation, "We have other queries about this as well and are looking at it."

SAS Cargo CEO Leif Rasmussen said in a statement:  "SAS is currently getting a lot of inquiries about ad-hoc flights for passengers and cargo. We are looking at these requests and prioritising the traffic that is most needed to support both our society and our customers." 

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