SAS-Express promotion takes off amid dispute

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STOCKHOLM -- Scandinavian airline SAS has launched a $5m TV and newspaper ad campaign to promote its new SAS-Express product in Norway and Sweden.

The campaign, which is being led by Observera Grey, comes at a crucial time for SAS with the arrival of Virgin Express to the Nordic region, and the prospect of further competition in routes to, and within Scandinavia, from European airlines gearing up to take advantage of deregulation and open sky policies in Europe.

The SAS-Express package, which is available to EuroClass passengers, includes access to SAS airport lounges, no need for pre-travel reservations and SAS Gate Cafe facilities where travelers can eat or choose a pre-packed take-away meal.

Its promotion launched as a new wave of industrial unrest emerged within the airline, which was crippled by wildcat strikes during the spring. This time it was SAS's ground-crew division, 200 of which went on strike on October 24 in Copenhagen - the airline hub station - causing delays to scheduled flights across Scandinavia.

SAS management broke the run of strikes last April when it signed an agreement with unions which obliged both sides to avoid disputes by solving problems around the negotiation table. However, the Danish ground-crew trade union, LFF, has refused to adjust to the new policy. The LFF, which has 1,300 members, and SAS have agreed to settle the matter in the Danish labor court.

British Airways, meanwhile, is also trying to raise its profile as a Business Traveler airline in Scandinavia, and has launched a BA-branded VISA credit card that brings benefits such as frequent flier points, discounts and access to BA Executive Club lounges. The campaign, promoted via print ads by Ogilvy & Mather, is directed at encouraging more Nordic executives and companies to book their business trips with the airline.

Copyright October 1996, Crain Communications Inc.

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