Mats Jansson is to quit his role of president and ceo of SAS this autumn.
Jansson who has held the post for four years said he had "done his share" for the Scandinavian carrier.
In a statement he said: "Next year, I turn 60 and that is also when my contract expires. I believe that I have done my share for SAS.
"There are still great challenges to come for SAS, but the platform is in place.
"The Core SAS strategy, including extensive cost-savings, has been established, the financial platform has been secured through the latest rights issue, SAS has gained strength in terms of our products, and customer satisfaction has increased.
"The company is now well positioned to face the future,"
Jansson was in charge of the airline during a global recession which saw a sharp drop in passengers which drove the need to impose drastic cuts.
There was also talk during the downturn of SAS being taken over bought by fellow Star Alliance member Lufthansa.
Jansson said it had been "four exciting and demanding years to run a company in such a dynamic sector."
SAS said it was now looking for his successor.