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
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
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!
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
Peter Fich´s previous jobs with both Premiair and SAS were
administrative, and his whole attitude was more that of a bookkeeper than an
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.
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.
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
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.
Fich – sacked from Greenlandair. (Photo: Per Helmer)