Flying start for NAS

Norwegian Air Shuttle (NAS) took a firm step towards becoming a new player in Norway's air traffic market by landing a state contract for 170,000 single domestic flight tickets. NAS, who have announced intentions to try and fight for domestic market share after SAS absorbed Braathens, won the only state contract awarded for internal flights. The deal confirms the vow of Minister of Labor and Government Administration, Prof. Victor D. Norman, that improving airline competition was a government priority. "We have received a serious offer from NAS and we have every possible reason to believe that the company will deliver as promised. " Norman said Thursday. "The offer we have received is a good one. Without it there would have been no flight deal at all for domestic flights," Norman said. NAS boss Stig Willassen said that several firms had expressed interest in making deals with the airline after they announced their attention to expand their domestic routes. The state signed the NAS deal on the routes between Oslo and Bergen, Trondheim Stavanger and Tromsoe, and the agreement takes effect from September 1. SAS was seen as the big loser when Norman announced which airlines had secured government traffic. SAS will be the carrier for state business to Berlin, Hamburg, Zurich and Brussels. Other international contract winners included Finnair, Sterling, Air France, KLM and British Airways. Stein Bemer, responsible for SAS corporate packages in Norway regretted that the airline could not measure up to competitors but said he had to ensure a profitable bid. "I am disappointed that SAS did not manage a better bid than the one they submitted. It was not good enough for a central agreement," Minister Norman said.