Air Transport World

Braathens S.A.F.E. anxious to break out in Europe. (South American and Far East Airtransport)

Braathens S.A.F.E. anxious to break out in Europe

At least an element of liberalization will be introduced in Norway as the government here reviews its hitherto tightly regulated aviation policies, and Braathens S.A.F.E. (which stands for South American and Far East Airtransport) aims to take full advantage of such new thinking as and when it comes about.

At present Braathens is restricted to flying Norwegian internal routes, on which it serves 14 airports from Kristiansand in the south to Tromso in the north, and over which it carried 2.2 million passengers in 1985--some 42.5% of the domestic traffic. In addition it flies around a quarter of a million passengers each year on inclusive tour services to sun and ski destinations Paris, Bergen-Newcastle (England) and Stavanger-Manchester (England).

Braathens' urge to break out is rooted strongly in the past. Founded in 1964 by Ludvig G. Braathen, a ship-owner who was fascinated by the idea of "putting wings on ships,' it flew three Douglas DC-4 Skymasters on services to South America and Hong Kong. But when SAS was established, the new airline was given the right over all other Scandinavian companies for all external routes, so that when Braathens' concession came up for renewal in 1954 it was rejected. It was then that throughout Europe and performs a small amount of ad hoc charter work.

What it referred to in its last annual report as ". . . the monopoly which SAS (Scandinavian Airlines System) enjoys on a number of Norwegian routes, and on the majority of inter-Scandinavian routes, as well as to our closer European neighbors' rankles Braathens. So the airline's management was quick to put in applications to break this "monopoly' when it noted what it considered as hopeful liberalization signals coming from the Norwegian and other Scandinavian aviation departments.

International routes already applied for are Oslo-Stavanger (Norway)-Brussels (Belgium), Bergen (Norway)-Stavanger-Braathens turned its attention to the inland routes, carrying 2,800 passengers in the first year that it served them. Today the airline is headed by the son of its founder, Bjorn G. Braathen, president, and his son, Erik G. Braathen, executive VP and chief operating officer, and boards 10,000 passengers on a total of 200 services on a busy day.

A lot rides on the outcome of the liberalization issue, not least Braathens' future fleet policy, for a decision was made in spring 1985 by the company's board and corporate assembly to rationalize into one aircraft type, the Boeing 737-200, in the interests of future efficiency. …

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