Finn Øelund.

New Greenlandair President

Greenlandair´s Board of Directors sacked Peter Fich, with an ‘incompetent label’. – New in the position as Greenlandair President and CEO is Finn Øelund, long time SAS employee

NUUK: Finn Øelund, long time SAS employee, has been appointed President and CEO of Greenlandair (Grønlandsfly). He succeeds Peter Fich, who has left his job with immediate effect.

      The decision to fire Peter Fich was a unanimous decision by the board, headed by Peter Grønvold Samuelsen. It has for a long time been the opinion of the Board that Fich did not have sufficient competence to run Greenlandair.

      Sources close to Greenlandair, however, believe that the truth might just as well be that Peter Fich was not strong enough to convince the Board that cost-cutting and traffic programme expansion could not possibly be carried out simultaneously.

      Although both SAS and the Danish Government are co-owners of Greenlandair, The Home Rule of Greenland in reality is the decision-maker in Greenlandair affairs. The Home Rule authorities on one hand insist on certain routes and frequencies, while the Board, on the other, demands cost-cutting and increased profit, knowing that in a few years, funds for renewal of the helicopter-fleet will be required.

      Peter Fich had to give in, to the double-sided pressure, he was under.

      During his three years as President, Peter Fich was unable to come up with a solution in respect of allocation of summer-season flight seats, between the population of the country, and the tourists.

      The paradox has been that Greenland Tourism has spent DKK millions to attract tourists to Greenland – while foreign touroperators and Greenland incoming operators have been unable to obtain the flight seats needed for the tourists. Fich never managed to meet the demand of the market!



Only future will show whether Finn Øelund can manage to do his job to the satisfaction of the Board. Contrary to Peter Fich, Øelund is a professional airline man.

      Peter Fich´s previous jobs with both Premiair and SAS were administrative, and his whole attitude was more that of a bookkeeper than an airline man.

      Actually it has been characteristic for Greenlandair, that the company over the years only had a few genuine airline people in its management.

      Øelund has been Manager for SAS’ Danish domestic traffic, and during the building of Terminal 3 at Copenhagen Airport, he was SAS’ supervisor on the project, as well as Liaison-Officer between SAS and Copenhagen Airports A/S.

      Early this year he gave notice to SAS, and consequently left the airline. He did not express any reason for his notice, except that ‘I would like to do something different’. Whether he, already at that time, had been offered the Greenlandair job, is unknown.


Unsatisfactory result

In the year 1999, Greenlandair reported a DKK 9,9 million profit, which was met with severe criticism from Peter Grønvold Samuelsen. In his opinion, Greenlandair should be able to show a profit at DKK 25-30 million, bearing in mind the approaching renewal of the airlines helicopter-fleet.

      For several years it has been a topic for discussion in Greenland, whether Greenlandair should operate only profitable routes on their own account. Should the Home Rule want more routes, such should be established and operated at the Home Rules expense. Although such a policy seems to have a substantial political backing, and few routes are operated in this way, the matter in whole has not passed the discussion stage.

      Peter Fich was not powerful enough to have the proposal realised!

      What counts on Peter Fich´s credit side, however, is the establishment of the Atlantic traffic between Greenland and Denmark. Although it is still too early to break down the financial aspects in connection with the purchase of the Boeing B-757-200 aircraft (215 pax), which Greenlandair – assisted by Icelandair – took over two years ago;  it is notable that the company has reached a 42 per cent market share, leaving only 58 per cent to SAS, which used to have 100 per cent. Out of total 90,000 passengers on the flights to Denmark, 38,000 went by Greenlandair from Kangerlussuaq (Sdr. Strømfjord) and Narsarsuaq.


Hotel Arctic

Apart from the airline business, Greenlandair has two subsidiaries, being Greenland Travel (Grønlands Rejsebureau), and Hotel Arctic in Ilulissat (Jakobshavn). Both companies are 100 per cent owned by Greenlandair.

      Greenland Travel is a money-loosing company. The Manager, Mads Nordlund, never got the economy under control, and left the company in spring, this year.

      Since that, Greenlandair has advertised the travel agency for sale, but so far no buyers showed up, let alone buyers that would pay money for the company.

      Hotel Arctic used to be another money-looser, but the General Manager, Erik Bjerregaard, did a good job in turning loss to profit, and although the profit is small, at least he got rid of the red figures on the bottom line. Hotel Arctic recently had its room capacity expanded by 50 per cent, and today the hotel is a very popular conference-hotel.

      If Hotel Arctic can continue to be profitable, Greenlandair is likely to keep it. A good reason for that is, that apart from being a conference- and tourist hotel, it also serves as a transit hotel for Greenlandair’s passengers to and from the towns in the Disko Bay area, where Ilulissat is the traffic hub. (NTJ)

Peter Fich – sacked from Greenlandair. (Photo: Per Helmer)