DALLAS – Today in Aviation, Norwegian carrier Braathens SAFE changed its name and corporate identity to Braathens (BU) in 1998.
The rebranding coincided with BU entering into a strategic partnership with KLM (KL). The alliance saw the Dutch flag carrier take a 30% stake in BU for a reported US$105m.
A new livery was introduced, featuring the updated name, a blue underbelly, and the removal of the Norwegian flag from the tail, replaced by an abstract silver wing.
Braathens South American & Far East Airtransport (SAFE) was established in 1946 by Ludvig G. Braathen to carry crew and supplies for his shipping company, ‘Braganza.’
Charter flights began in January 1947, stretching as far as Hong Kong in the East and New York in the West. The airline was forced to stick with the charter operations for many years, as state-owned Norwegian Air Lines, which later became part of Scandinavian Airline System (SK), held the monopoly on all international air services.
The rights to scheduled services were eventually granted in 1950, albeit for domestic flights. The inaugural service departed Oslo bound for Stavanger via Jarlsberg. BU added further domestic routes throughout the 1950s and 60s.
By the time of the rebranding, BU had grown to become the largest domestic carrier in the country, holding 51% of the market. But a price battle with SK in 1999 led to combined losses of 1 billion Norwegian kroner.
In October 2001, the Braathen family and KLM sold their shares to SK. The two carriers initially split the routes between them. But in March 2004, SK announced the merger of the two companies, forming SAS Braathens. SAS dropped the Braathens name in June 2007 as BU was fully absorbed into Scandinavian Airlines.
Featured image: The replacement of the Norwegian flag on the tail with a stylized silver wing did not remain for long and the flag returned in 1999. Photo: Ken Fielding/https://www.flickr.com/photos/kenfielding, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons