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SAS's Norwegian unit to appeal its conviction

The Scandinavian Airlines System's Norwegian unit would appeal its conviction and fine on charges of stealing trade secrets from smaller rival Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA, the company said.

SAS Norway was convicted by an Oslo appeal court Tuesday of illegally accessing confidential passenger and price information on computers used the smaller airline, which operates under the name Norwegian. SAS was ordered to pay a 4 million kroner (US$740,000; EUR513,000) fine.

"We are appealing this case to the supreme court because we don't believe anything illegal took place in this case," SAS Norway's Managing Director Ola Strand said in a news release.

The case concerned an electronic booking system the airlines shared until the deal was canceled in 2002, but which Norway's economic crime police said SAS Norway continued to access until 2005 for information about their rival's pricing and routes.

The Oslo District Court acquitted SAS Norway of that charge in September 2006. That ruling was reversed Monday by the Borgarting appeals court in Oslo, which found that the airline's used of the system was an intentional effort to learn trade secrets.

Strand said he believed the original acquittal was correct, and that it was Norwegian that failed to cut off SAS's access to the international booking system in 2002.

Norwegian has became a strong challenger to SAS Norway due to rapid expansion after changing its business model in 2002 from being a domestic commuter airline to a low-cost airline with destinations in Norway and abroad.

It was not clear when the appeal might be heard.