Scandinavian Airlines

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Scandinavian Airlines
Scandinavian Airlines logo.svg
IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded 1 August 1946
Focus cities
Frequent-flyer program EuroBonus
Airport lounge
  • SAS Gold Lounge
  • SAS Lounge
  • SAS Café Lounge
Alliance Star Alliance
Fleet size 139
Destinations 104
Company slogan We are travelers (English)
Parent company SAS Group
Headquarters Solna, Sweden
Key people

Scandinavian Airlines or SAS, previously Scandinavian Airlines System, with the legal name Scandinavian Airlines System Denmark-Norway-Sweden, is the flag carrier of Sweden, Norway and Denmark,[1] and the largest airline in Scandinavia.

Part of the Scandinavian Airlines System Aktiebolag and headquartered at the SAS Frösundavik Office Building in Solna, Sweden, the airline operates 182 aircraft to 90 destinations. The airline's main hub is at Copenhagen-Kastrup Airport, with connections to over 50 cities in Europe. Stockholm-Arlanda Airport (with more than 30 European connections) and Oslo Airport, Gardermoen are the other major hubs.[2] Minor hubs also exist at Bergen Airport, Flesland, Gothenburg-Landvetter Airport, Stavanger Airport, Sola and Trondheim Airport, Værnes.

In 2012, SAS carried 25.9 million passengers, achieving revenues of SEK 36 billion.[3] This makes it the ninth-largest airline in Europe. The SAS fleet consists of Airbus A319, A320, A321, A330 and A340, Boeing 737 Next Generation, and Bombardier CRJ900 aircraft. In addition, SAS also wetleases ATR 72 and Saab 2000.

The airline was founded in 1946 as a consortium to pool the transatlantic operations of Svensk Interkontinental Lufttrafik, Det Norske Luftfartselskap and Det Danske Luftfartselskab. The consortium was extended to cover European and domestic cooperation two years later. In 1951, all the airlines were merged to create SAS.

SAS is one of the founding members of Star Alliance.



Revenue Passenger-Kilometers, scheduled flights only, in millions
Year Traffic
1950 509
1955 1086
1960 2199
1965 3189
1969 4797
1971 5682
1975 7955
1980 10996
1985 12063
1995 18506
Source: ICAO Digest of Statistics for 1950-55, IATA World Air Transport Statistics 1960-1995
A privately preserved Douglas DC-3 wearing SAS late 1940s-style markings

The airline was founded on 1 August 1946, when Svensk Interkontinental Lufttrafik AB (an airline owned by the Swedish Wallenberg family), Det Danske Luftfartselskab A/S and Det Norske Luftfartselskap AS (the flag carriers of Denmark and Norway) formed a partnership to handle the intercontinental air traffic of these three Scandinavian countries.[4] Operations started on 17 September 1946. In 1948 the Swedish flag carrier AB Aerotransport joined SAS and the companies coordinated European operations and finally merged to form the SAS Consortium in 1951. When established, the airline was divided between SAS Danmark (28.6%), SAS Norge (28.6%) and SAS Sverige (42.8%), all owned 50% by private investors and 50% by their governments.[citation needed]

Trans polar route

In 1954 SAS was the first airline to start scheduled flights on a polar route. The DC-6B flew from Copenhagen to Los Angeles, California, United States with stops in Søndre Strømfjord (now Kangerlussuaq), Greenland, and Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. By summer 1956 frequency had increased to three flights per week. It was popular with Hollywood celebrities and film industry people, and the route turned out to be a publicity coup for SAS. Thanks to a tariff structure that allowed free transit to other European destinations via Copenhagen, this trans-polar route gained increasing popularity with American tourists throughout the 1950s. In 1957 SAS started a second polar route when a DC-7C flew from Copenhagen to Tokyo, Japan, via the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. The flight via Alaska was a compromise solution since the Soviet Union would not allow SAS - and other air carriers - to fly across Siberia between Europe and Japan, while the airspace of the PR China was also closed.[citation needed] SAS publicized this service as "round-the-world service over the North Pole".[citation needed]

Jet Era

SAS entered the jet age in 1959 when the Caravelle entered service. In 1971, SAS put its first Boeing 747 jumbo jet into service.[5]

The company logo in the 1980s was made up of stripes in the colours of the flags of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden
SAS operated flights to Greenland until March 2003, the route re-opened spring 2007 until January 2009. The Boeing 767-383ER at Kangerlussuaq Airport (2001)

Acquisition of local airlines

SAS gradually acquired control of the domestic markets in all three countries by acquiring full or partial control of local airlines, including Braathens and Widerøe in Norway, Linjeflyg and Skyways Express in Sweden and Cimber Air in Denmark. In 1989, SAS acquired 18.4% of Texas Air Corporation, parent company of Continental Airlines, in a bid to form a global alliance. This stake was later sold. During the 1990s, SAS also bought a 20% stake in British Midland. SAS bought 95% of Spanair, the second largest airline in Spain, as well as Air Greenland. There are plans to dispose of all of these holdings[6] and an agreement to divest more than 80 percent of the holdings in Spanair was signed with a Catalonian group of investors led by Consorci de Turisme de Barcelona and Catalana d'Inciatives in January 2009.[7]

Star Alliance founding member

In May 1997 SAS formed the global Star Alliance network with Air Canada, Lufthansa, Thai Airways International and United Airlines. Four years earlier SAS unsuccessfully tried to merge with KLM, Star Alliance partner Austrian Airlines, and the now defunct Swissair, in a project called Alcazar.[8] This failure led to the departure the following year of CEO Jan Carlzon, who was credited for the financial turnaround of the company starting in 1981 and who envisioned SAS ownership of multiple airlines worldwide. The ownership structure of SAS was changed in June 2001, with a holding company being created in which the holdings of the governments changed to: Sweden (21.4%), Norway (14.3%) and Denmark (14.3%) and the remaining 50% publicly held and traded on the stock market.

Contemporary history (2004–present)

In 2004 Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) was divided into four companies; SAS Scandinavian Airlines Sverige AB, SAS Scandinavian Airlines Danmark A/S, SAS Braathens AS and SAS Scandinavian International AS. SAS Braathens was re-branded SAS Scandinavian Airlines Norge AS in 2007.[9] In October 2009 the four companies were once again united into one company, SAS Scandinavian System AB.

With the coming of low-cost airlines and decreasing fares in Scandinavia the business turned into the red. To be profitable again, the airline had to cut costs. In a first step the airline sold its stakes in other companies, such as bmi, Spanair and AirBaltic, and began to restructure its operations.[10][11][12] This was to save costs by about 23 percent between 2008 and 2011. The next big cost-cutting measure followed by the end of 2011. It should generate cost savings of another three to four percent until 2015. In June 2012 the airline announced that they will extend this measure.[13] In November 2012 the company came under heavy pressure from its owners and banks to implement even heavier cost-cutting measures as a condition for continued financial support. Negotiations with the respective trade unions took place for more than a week and exceeded the original deadline, but in the end SAS and the trade unions reached an agreement that would increase the worktime, cutting salary between 12-20%, pension and retirement plans, and thus keep the airline flying. SAS drew some criticism for how they handled the negotiations, in denying facilities to the union delegations.[14] As of November 2013, there was the expectation that the company would show 2013 as its first profitable year since 2007.[15]

Corporate affairs

Radisson Blu Royal Hotel in central Copenhagen, originally SAS Royal Hotel, built by Arne Jacobsen 1960

During its first decades, Scandinavian Airlines, SAS, build two large hotels in central Copenhagen, SAS Royal Hotel (5 stars) and the even larger SAS Hotel Scandinavia (4 stars and a Casino at 26th floor). After the deregulations of European commercial aviation, and the crisis which afterwards affected SAS, like many other national airline cooperations, Scandinavian Airlines sold their hotels to Radisson.

Corporate offices

The current head office, the SAS Frösundavik Office Building as seen in 2007
Scandinavian Airlines former head office at Arlanda Airport

Scandinavian Airlines' head office is located in the SAS Frösundavik Office Building in Frösundavik, Solna Municipality, Sweden, near Stockholm.[16] Between 2011 and 2013, the head office was located at Stockholm Arlanda Airport (ARN) in Sigtuna Municipality, Sweden.[17] The SAS Cargo Group A/S head office is in Kastrup, Tårnby Municipality, Denmark.[18]

Just like nowadays, the SAS head office was located in the SAS Frösundavik Office Building until 2011.[19][20] It was designed by Niels Torp Architects and built between 1985-1987. The move from Solna to Arlanda was completed in 2010.[21] A previous SAS head office was located on the grounds of Bromma Airport in Stockholm.[22]


Besides the agreements SAS has with its Star Alliance partners, SAS has strategic agreements with Lufthansa, Swiss International Air Lines, Austrian Airlines and United Airlines. The agreement includes code sharing and schedule coordination to facilitate improved connections between SAS and its partner airlines. SAS also co-operates with the other airlines in the SAS Group.

SAS has begun code-sharing with Shanghai Airlines, complementing its code-share arrangement with Air China.

Business trends

The key trends for Scandinavian Airlines Group (which includes SAS Cargo, SAS Ground Handling and SAS Tech), are shown below:

2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
2013 2014
Turnover (SEKm) 47,536 39,696 36,524 36,735 33,148 42,182 38,006
Profits (EBT) (SEKm) −188 −1,522 −33 543 228 1,648 −918
Number of passengers (m) 30.9 27.0 27.1 29.0 25.9 30.4 29.4
Passenger load factor (%) 72.3 72.7 75.6 74.9 76.7 75.0 76.9
Total unit cost (CASK) (SEK) 0.94 1.01 0.95 0.86 0.81 0.80 0.75
Total unit revenue (RASK) (SEK) 0.91 0.92 0.86 0.82 0.82 0.78 0.70
Number of aircraft (at year end) 181 172 159 147 145 139 138
Number of employees (average for year) 16,286 14,438 13,723 13,479 13,591 14,127 12,329
Figures for SAS Group. Notes/sources: [23] [23] [24] [25] [26][27] [28] [29]

(In 2012 the company changed its financial year to 1 November–31 October, instead of the calendar year.[30] The figures above are therefore for years ending 31 December until 2011, for the 10 months to 31 October 2012, and for years ending 31 October thereafter.)


SAS destinations

Codeshare agreements

SAS is one of the founding members of the Star Alliance. This Star Alliance-liveried SAS plane is landing at Newark Liberty International Airport.

Scandinavian Airlines has codeshare agreements with the following airlines:

Interline agreements

Scandinavian Airlines has interlining agreements with the following airlines:

City statistics

SAS Boeing 737-800 at Oslo-Gardermoen

These statistics about each of SAS hubs and busiest airports are current as of March 2014. (Ranked by daily departures).

Rank Airport Daily Departures Destinations Served
1 Copenhagen (CPH) 435 86
2 Stockholm (ARN) 410 73
3 Oslo (OSL) 287 64
4 Bergen (BGO) 129 49
5 Stavanger (SVG) 118 35
6 Trondheim (TRD) 116 44
7 Gothenburg (GOT) 57 17
8 Bodø (BOO) 55 19
9 Tromsø (TOS) 49 31
10 London (LHR) 31 5


Current fleet

A Scandinavian Airlines A340-300 at Dubai International Airport (2007)
Airbus A330-300 during takeoff

Scandinavian Airlines (including subsidiaries) operates the following aircraft (as of October 2015):[36][37][38]

Scandinavian Airlines Fleet
Aircraft In Service Orders Options Passengers Notes
C Y M Total
Airbus A319-100 4 0 0 141 141 "Christian Valdemar Viking" (OY-KBO) painted in retro livery.[39]
Airbus A320-200 13 0 0 168 168
Airbus A320neo 30 11 0 0 174 174 Deliveries from 2016. Replacing oldest 737NGs.[40]
Airbus A321-200 8 0 0 198 198
Airbus A330-300 6 2 32
All aircraft have new interior and Wi-Fi.[41]
Two remaining deliveries in 2016.
Airbus A340-300 8 46
Seven aircraft to receive new interior and Wi-Fi with 247 seats.[42][41]
OY-KBM painted in Star Alliance livery.[43]
Airbus A350-900 8[44] 6 TBA Deliveries from 2018.[45]
Boeing 737-600 26 0 0 120 120
Boeing 737-700 29 0 0 141 141
Boeing 737-800 29 0 0 181 181 LN-RRL and LN-RRW painted in Star Alliance livery.[46]
Bombardier CRJ900 12 0 0 88 88 Operated by Cimber.
Total 135 40 17

Note: In addition SAS also wet-lease aircraft from Braathens Regional, Flybe, Jet Time, Privatair, and CityJet (begins 28 March 2016).

Future fleet plans

On 20 June 2011, SAS announced an order for 30 new A320 next generation aircraft as part of its fleet harmonisation plan. SAS had earlier announced that the fleet will be harmonized. Its short-range aircraft will consist of two types from 2015: Airbus A320 family at the base in Copenhagen, and Boeing 737NG at the bases in Oslo and Stockholm. As of Dec 2014, the McDonnell Douglas MD-80s have been phased out. There were six leased A320s in the SAS fleet at the beginning of May 2013.

McDonnell Douglas MD-82 taking off in 2007. All MD-80's were retired in 2013.

As part of the transition, all the MD80s in Copenhagen have been replaced by leased Airbus A320 by the end of 2014. All the MD80s previously at the base in Stockholm have been replaced by leased Boeing 737NGs, completed during 2013. Finally all the Boeing 737 Classics at the base in Oslo have been phased out and replaced by Boeing 737NG.

The A320neos on order will be delivered in 2016 and will be based in Stockholm were they will replace the oldest Boeing 737NGs

Boeing 737-700 in 2007.

On 25 June 2013, SAS and Airbus signed a Memorandum of Understanding stating that SAS intends to buy twelve new-generation aircraft, including six options. The agreement consists of eight A350-900 with six options, and four A330-300E. The first new long haul aircraft to enter service will be the A330-300E, which will replace the aging A340-300 in 2015 as leasing agreements on these aircraft expire, SAS is though in plans for renewing some of the leasing agreements to be able to expand its long-haul fleet and add more long-haul destinations to its network. The A350-900 is planned to enter service beginning in 2018. SAS has dubbed this "A total renewal of long haul fleet", indicating that all former A340 and A330 will in fact be replaced.[47]

Removal of SAS Dash Q400 fleet

A Bombardier CRJ900 NextGen at Copenhagen (2011)

In September 2007, two separate incidents of similar landing gear failures occurred within four days of each other on SAS Dash 8-Q400 aircraft. A third incident occurred in October 2007. On 28 October 2007, in a move that was described as unique by the Swedish press, the board of directors announced that all 27 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft were to be removed from service due to three landing gear failures.[48]

A press release from SAS said that the company had reached a settlement with Bombardier and Goodrich, whereby the airline would receive SEK one billion as compensation, while SAS would purchase 27 new aircraft, with an option of 24 more. These aircraft will consist of 13 of the CRJ900 Nextgen (10 to SAS and 3 to Estonian Air) and 14 of the updated Q400 Nextgen units (8 to airBaltic and 6 to Widerøe), with 7 additional options.[49][50]

SAS received the first CRJ-900 on 3 December 2008, with others soon to follow. The CRJ900 fleet now consists of 12 aircraft.

SAS sold its original Bombardier Dash 8-Q400 fleet to Philippine Airlines for operation with subsidiary PAL Express, and also to Malev Hungarian Airlines.

In November 2007, it was revealed that Swedish Civil Aviation Authority began an investigation and accused Scandinavian Airlines System of cutting corners for maintenance. The airline reportedly made 2,300 flights in which safety equipment was not up to standard.[51]


OY-KBO, Christian Valdemar Viking at Geneva Airport

SAS planes look predominantly white, however, they are a very light beige (Pantone Warm Gray 2) with "Scandinavian" above the windows and "Airlines" below the windows in white lettering. The vertical stabilizers are blue with the traditional "SAS" logo on it. The engine casing is painted in scarlet (Pantone Warm Red) with the word Scandinavian in white, the thrust reversers are white. The typeface used is Rotis Semi Serif.

Apart from the standard livery, SAS also has an Airbus A319 in retro livery and two Boeing 737 and one Airbus A340 in Star Alliance-livery.


Business class

For long-haul flights business class, called SAS Business, is still offered and features wide sleeper seats. On the Airbus A330s and upgraded A340s seating is 1-2-1 on seats that convert into 196-202 cm flat beds, with power sockets and a 15-inch screen. On non upgraded A340s seating is 2-2-2 that converts into angled beds. On the Boeing 737 used on the Stavanger-Houston route, seating is 2-2 with the old business class seats.

SAS Plus

Plus is SAS premium economy class. On intercontinental flights, seating is 2-3-2 on wide bodies, except on one A340 that has 2-4-2 seating in Plus. The seats offered on SAS Plus are wider than those in the SAS Go section.

On European flights, SAS Plus tickets are refundable, and include a meal, a double checked-in baggage allowance, and access to lounges and fast track security at the airport. The SAS Plus passengers are seated at the front of the aircraft and passengers can choose their seat at booking for free, but the seats there are otherwise the same as the SAS Go seats. The two-class system was introduced in June 2013, when business class was eliminated from intra-European flights.[52]


SAS Go, or economy offers 3-3 seating on intraeuropean flights, and 2-4-2 on the A330s and A340s.

SAS offers free coffee & tea to GO passengers on short-haul services except very short flights. Meals are served to all passengers on long-haul flights.

SAS Go Light

Available on selected European routes, SAS Go Light is aimed at competing with low-cost carriers for those who travel with hand luggage only.


A Scandinavian Airlines ATR-72 operated by Jet Time at Copenhagen Airport. The ATR 72 is used on shorter routes within Scandinavia and to Finland and the Baltic states.


The following locations are SAS Scandinavian, Stockholm, and Business Lounge locations:

Fingerprint biometric identification

In 2006, SAS Sweden launched a new biometric system for use throughout Sweden. Each passenger's fingerprints are, for security purposes, matched to their respective checked baggage. The new technology will be phased in at all the airports served by SAS, although use of the system is voluntary for passengers. The system has been introduced in Norway.[citation needed]


SAS's frequent-flyer program is called EuroBonus. Members also earn points on other Star Alliance flights.

Fly Home Club

Fly Home Club was SAS's membership club for Scandinavians living in Spain. It has closed ever since economic conditions have worsened in Spain and as Scandinavians living in Spain have decided to return home or change locations.


Between 1984 and 1994 SAS operated a Hovercraft service between Malmö and Copenhagen Airport. Travellers could check in for their flights in Malmö and the Hovercrafts were operated as connecting flights. In 1994 the hovercrafts were replaced by hydrofoils that operated until 2000 when the Öresund bridge was opened and offered a rail link between Malmö and Copenhagen airport. [53]


  • 2010:
    • Flightstats: Worlds Most Punctual Airline[54]
    • Simpliflying: Best Use of Social Media in a Crisis Situation[55]
  • 2011:
    • Edge Awards: Favourite Airline[56]
    • Grand Travel Award: Europe's Best Airline[57]
    • Webbie: Online Campaign of the Year[58]
  • 2012:
    • Webbie Award: Online Campaign of the Year[59]
  • 2013:
    • Freddie Awards: Best Customer Service in Europe/Africa[60]
    • Sustainable Brand Index: Most Sustainable Airline[61]
  • 2014:
    • Grand Travel Award: Europe's Best Airline[62]
  • 2015:
    • Grand Travel Award: Europe's Best Airline[63]
    • ServiceScore: Airline with highest service standards.[64]

Incidents and accidents

See also


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External links

Media related to SAS Scandinavian Airlines at Wikimedia Commons

Company websites
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