STOCKHOLM: SAS AB, Scandinavia’s main carrier, is parting ways with chief executive officer Rickard Gustafson, leaving it searching for a replacement at an historically difficult time for the airline industry.
The Stockholm-based company announced late on Monday that Gustafson was resigning after a decade at the helm. The 56-year-old will become CEO at Swedish industrial giant SKF AB.
For SAS, the loss of its CEO means the board will need to find someone willing to take on the gargantuan task of running the business in the middle of a pandemic that’s already delivered a body blow to air travel. Gustafson intends to have left the company by July 1 at the latest.
“The task of reviving SAS is enormous, ” analysts at Sydbank wrote in a note. The company is “crying out for continuity and someone who has a deep knowledge of both the airline industry and SAS’s complexity. So Rickard Gustafson’s departure leaves SAS in a vacuum at a critical moment.”
Shares in the company have slipped about 6% this year after plunging 56% in 2020.
SAS chairman Carsten Dilling said he is “disappointed and sorry” that Gustafson is leaving. “SAS is still in a critical – but stable position – and the board has of course immediately started the process to appoint a new president and CEO of SAS, ” he said in the statement. — Bloomberg
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