Insurance man appointed new CEO of troubled SAS airline


The Board of Directors of SAS has appointed Rickard Gustafson as the new President and CEO of the Scandinavian airline. Rickard Gustafson, 46 years old, is currently the CEO of Scandinavia’s third largest insurance company Codan/Trygg-Hansa.

“Rickard Gustafson is an experienced leader, with extensive international experience, who has demonstrated that he can generate good results”, Fritz Schur, Chairman of the Board of SAS, said in a statement Thursday .

Mats Jansson said last month that he was leaving the post as President and CEO of SAS this fall after four years at the post.

SAS, half-owned by Sweden, Denmark and Norway, lost almost 10 billion kronor ($1.4 billion) in the past two years after airline travel dived during the global economic crisis. It has also been hard-hit by the rise of low-cost airline Norwegian.

To turn the loss-making airline around Mats Jansson last year initiated a massive cost-cutting plan called Core SAS, including cost initiatives of 7.8 billion kronor, thousands of layoffs and a 20 percent capacity reduction. The financial platform was also secured through rights issues.

In the second quarter, the airline narrowed its losses but remained in the red largely due to the hammering it took during the weeks of European flight chaos caused by a cloud of volcanic ash from Iceland.

Mats Jansson will leave his position on October 1. Rickard Gustafson will assume his position at SAS not later than March 2011. Until then, the Deputy CEO, John Dueholm, will be acting head of the airline.

Following the news, SAS saw its share price rise by 0.34 percent in noon trading on a slightly negative Stockholm stock exchange.

Rickard Gustafson, previous experience:

· President and CEO, Codan/Trygg-Hansa, Copenhagen/Stockholm, from 2006
· President of GE Capital European Equipment Finance Nordic and European Marketing Director, GE Capital, Stockholm, 2001-2006
· President of e-Business Europe, GE Capital Corp, London, 2000-2001
· Vice President Strategic Planning, GE Capital Global Consumer Finance, Stamford, Connecticut, 1999-2000
· COO for Scandinavia and General Manager GE, Capital Bank Sweden, GE Capital Bank, Stockholm 1996-1999
· Consultant and Experienced Manager, Andersen Consulting, Stockholm 1989-1996

Rickard Gustafson is married and has two children.