The governments of Norway and Sweden say they have sold some of their shares in Scandinavian Airlines, saying the move will strengthen the regional carrier by reducing state ownership.

Norwegian Minister of Trade and Industry Monica Maeland says "there are no good reasons why the state should own an airline."

Maeland said Thursday's transaction was in line with the government's ambition "to strengthen private ownership."

The governments sold a total of 23 million shares, reducing Sweden and Norway's shareholding in SAS to 17.2 percent from 21 percent and to 11.5 percent from 14 percent, respectively. Denmark, which owns 14 percent in the Stockholm-based airline, didn't take part in the sale.

Her Swedish colleague, Mikael Damberg, said it was the first step to reduce the Swedish state's ownership.