Air Transport World

Life in the fast lane: a model of deregulation, now-profitable Skyways has become the prominent regional carrier in Sweden.(Company Profile)

A model of deregulation, now-profitable Skyways has become the prominent regional carrier in Sweden

STOCKHOLM--The Saab 340s and Fokker 50s silently side by side in the cold, waiting to take passengers into the interior of Sweden. But something is odd about the assemblage. If the name Skyways was not emblazoned on the fuselages, a passenger might think these aircraft belonged to different airlines. The remnants of different liveries indicate that this is an airline in transition.

In fact, the name Skyways has been used twice in this airline's modern history. In between, in 1989, the name was changed to Salair. But there is a key difference between the Skyways of old and today's. This one is profitable, whereas, the other and Salair were constantly in the red, giving heartburn to the owner, Salenia AB, a shipping and offshore-oil concern.

For 1994, Skyways posted earnings of Sek 7 million ($1.1 million), over a year-earlier loss of Sek 38 million. In fact, the profit was the first the airline has posted in seven years. For 1995, Skyways expects to earn Sek 15 million. Its productivity in terms of revenue per employee has risen dramatically, from Sek 1.37 million during 1993 to Sek 2.13 million for 1995, a 27% increase.

Swedish deregulation provided the base-line opportunity for Skyways' growth, as did SAS's decision to close down its domestic regional operation, Swedair, as part of its ongoing cost-reduction program. Skyways benefited by assuming several of Swedair's routes and losing a key competitor. "It was like winning a lottery, quite unexpected," says Jan Palmer, Skyways' 45-year-old president, who came over from Malmo Aviation in 1993 to navigate the recovery. …

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