Air Transport World

2 Maersks are better than 1; knowing their niches permits Danish and U.K. operations to succeed in the shadow of SAS and British Airways.

Knowing their niches permits Danish and U.K. operations to succeed in the shadow of SAS and British Airways

BILLUND, Denmark--Two airlines, both named Maersk. One is based in Denmark, a hot competitor with SAS, the other based in England, franchised to British Airways. Confused? The owner of both, the giant A.P. Moller shipping conglomerate, has its reasons for this unusual structure and is watching serenely as profits, fleets and route networks of both carriers flourish.

Troels Dilling, chairman of Maersk (Denmark), explains: "A.P. Moller is one of the world's biggest shipping groups and Denmark's biggest company, with 30,000 employees in 60 countries. It has been in transportation since the beginning of the century and so, the move into airlines was a natural one.

"Maersk Air started in Denmark 26 years ago but we were restricted in what we could do by a concession granted to SAS when it started in 1948, naming it the only airline allowed to fly outside Denmark.

"Liberalization of 1990 gave us permission to fly to other EU countries. But we still have restrictions, because SAS retains the concession for all operations between Scandinavia and countries outside the EU until 2005. In view of this, it was natural for us to look somewhere else where we could expand without these restrictions. So we started in the U.K."

Maersk Air Ltd. was established in 1993 at Birmingham, following the split-up of the TPL group, which comprised Brymon Aviation and Birmingham European Airways. The Maersk Air group took over the activities of Birmingham European. The U. …

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