Danish and Norwegian governments prepared to sell SAS stakes; Aer Lingus, Aeroflot down

European markets ended trading at a three week high on Friday (19-Dec-2010), posting a fifth consecutive day of gains, pushing airline shares higher, after economic data and policy makers eased concerns the US Central Bank may tighten monetary policy.

In key markets; UK’s FTSE (+0.6%), France’s CAC (+0.6%) and Germany’s DAX (+0.7%) were all up.

Danish and Norwegian governments also prepared to sell stakes in SAS

The Danish Government stated it is prepared to sell its 14.3% stake in SAS if presented with a satisfactory offer from an investor, taking a similar position to the Swedish Government, which had earlier stated it would seek parliamentary approval to reduce its stake in SAS at a “suitable point in time”.

The Norwegian Trade and Industry Ministry has also expressed a similar opinion to its Swedish and Danish counterparts, stating it would be open to a sale “when the time is right and we can get a good price”. Denmark, Norway and Sweden have a combined ownership stake of 50% in the struggling carrier.

The governments are considered unlikely to sell their stakes for another 12-18 months, to support the carrier through the implementation of its cost cutting strategies.

Sweden had previously indicated it was willing to reduce its 21.4% stake, but Norway had not yet shown any interest in cutting its share of the airline.

SAS shares climbed 6.6% on Friday.

easyJet slips on UBS downgrade

easyJet (-0.5%) slipped after being downgraded from ‘Buy’ to ‘Neutral’ by UBS. See related article: UBS prefers Ryanair to easyJet; 28% decline in Brazil domestic airfares in 2009

Aer Lingus continues to slide

Aer Lingus meanwhile continued to decline ahead of plans to launch its staff ballot over its EUR97 million cost cutting plans. The carrier admitted in regard to the ballot over the weekend that it has a “hard sell” ahead. The cost cutting plan includes 600 redundancies, pay cuts of up to 10% and a three-year pay freeze.

Thomas Cook (+2.3%) and Dart Group (+1.7%) were also up at the end of trading.

Also featured in today’s Europe Airline Daily:

  • Unite to announce result of BA cabin crew ballot;
  • Alitalia and Air One announce Summer 2010 schedule;
  • Eurocypria recieves EUR35 million funding from Cyprus Parliament through share purchase plan;
  • Iberia set to report record operating loss ahead of British Airways merger

Europe selected airlines daily share price movements (% change): 19-Feb-2010