If the last couple of years has taught us anything, it is that plans and predictions during a pandemic are tentative at best. However, that does not mean that we cannot make them and look forward to a 2022 that, along with tremendous uncertainty, also holds great potential. For SAS Scandinavian Airlines, that includes not one but two new subsidiaries and the rollout of Airbus A321LR operations to the US.
There is plenty to be excited about when it comes to SAS. But before we get into that, let’s take a brief look at where the airline found itself at the beginning of December. In its Q4 report for this year, the carrier noted that the positive trend of the summer persisted, with increased demand and ticket sales.
The airline scaled up operations to meet demand and reopened several destinations that had been dormant throughout the crisis. Following the reopening of the US to vaccinated European travelers, SAS scheduled up to 100 weekly flights from Scandinavia to the United States. However, this was before the advent of Omicron, and recovery may well have turned a darker corner over the holiday period.
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SAS Connect and SAS Link
Meanwhile, the new year will see SAS venture into previously unknown territory. The triple flag carrier is set to launch not one but two short-haul subsidiaries. SAS Connect and SAS Link will both start out from Copenhagen in ‘early 2022’ and deliver full-scale airline services.
SAS Connect will also add bases in Stockholm and Oslo later in the year. The airline’s recently appointed CEO, Anko van der Werff, compared the new brands to outfits such as KLM Cityhopper and Iberia Express.
“The operating model will provide further flexibility while reducing complexity and increasing accountability in each independent platform with an increased cost and efficiency focus. Above all, it really is a necessary change in order to secure the future of SAS in a role as Scandinavia’s leading airline,” said van der Werff as quoted by Routesonline.
New A321LR transatlantic services
It is not only SAS’s short-haul that will see a new format in 2022. In March, the airline will begin rolling out its new Airbus A321LR aircraft on routes to three destinations in the US, replacing the A330-300. Just before Christmas, the airline operated the first test flight between Copenhagen Kastrup and Washington Dulles.
SAS’s A321LR, a long-range derivative of the A321neo, features a three-class layout with business, premium economy, and economy over 157 seats in a 1-1 or 2-2, 2-2, and 3-3 configuration. The airline intends to operate the aircraft on services from Copenhagen to Washington, Boston, and New York.
Investing in synthetic fuel
The switch from the A330 to the A321LR on these previously mentioned routes will result in a reduction of 15% to 18% in CO2 emissions. In other sustainability-related plans, SAS recently signed a deal with Vattenfall, Shell, and LanzaTech to investigate the large-scale production of synthetic sustainable aviation fuel. Furthermore, travelers can already purchase biofuel for SAS flights in blocks of 20 minutes, earning 500 additional EuroBonus points per block.
While SAS may have put a halt on its remaining two A350 deliveries until 2024, with a new CEO at the helm, we are bound to see many more initiatives throughout the coming months. The summer of 2022 may remain highly uncertain, but van der Werff has expressed cautious optimism for the return of more favorable market conditions.
What would you like to see from SAS in the near future? What do you think of narrowbody transatlantic flights? Leave a comment below and join the conversation.