Balancing means and ambition


When Eivind Roald became EVP of Sales and Marketing in SAS on April 1, 2012, he entered the company with a vision of changing the approach to sales, and of reigniting the SAS brand. Given SAS’ difficult situation, his top priority in the short term was to cut costs – significantly. The challenges that faced SAS in 2012 is a classic example of a turnaround situation: A company in serious financial distress requiring structural initiatives to address the issues at hand.

In order to deliver the change, Eivind launched an organisational redesign process and a rebranding process. The baseline Sales and Marketing organisation was set up in line with the traditional airline sales model, leveraged by the traditional sales channels and oversized in some markets.
SAS had already gone through several cost-focused restructuring programmes over the last years, and Eivind decided to start with a clean slate this time.

The organisational redesign process was part of SAS’ survival programme 4XNG and set out to define a new and more cost-efficient sales set-up and approach, better aligned with key market trends. The process leveraged an analysis of key changes in purchasing behaviour and drew on the commercial excellence toolbox to identify cost-out potential based on an in-depth understanding of where the cost cuts would accelerate the commercial vision rather than hurt organisational execution.

Key market trends inflicting SAS’ sales model

Consumers and professionals integrate as one target group, “prosumers”, as work and free time get mixed.

Mobile devices and social media are used more frequently in purchasing.

Increased importance of flyer in purchasing decisions.

Clear channel shift towards online/mobile, with a decline in corporates with negotiated agreements.

Strong growth in the leisure segment.

“SAS has a unique position in a challenging market and in the minds of Scandinavians. We need to exploit that platform and build on current trends in customer behaviour to build a new position and sharpen our competitive edge”.


— Eivind Roald, EVP of Sales and Marketing

SAS decided to introduce two brand new service concepts in Scandinavia and Europe: SAS Go, for customers who want a lot, and SAS Plus, for customers who want even more. These new concepts were developed in close co-operation with customers and included a new and improved onboard service concept. As stated by Eivind Roald: “We want to make travelling easier for our customers. And this includes SAS Go and SAS Plus. When we developed the new concepts, we based our work on our customers’ needs rather than on industry standards.”


More cost-efficient customer-centric organisation

SAS was founded in 1946 as a consortium of the three national airlines in Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

SAS is the first airline in the world to achieve IATA Fast Travel Award Platinum status. This means that SAS offers over 80% of the IATA’s selected self-service options to its passengers throughout the journey.