Two little A320neos belonging to SAS have undertaken a mammoth journey across the continents. The two aircraft flew from Denmark to Islamabad on Monday as part of an evacuation effort by the Danish government. Both planes flew for more than nine hours to make the trip.
SAS neos go on an epic journey
SAS Scandinavian Airlines operates a large fleet of new generation A320neos, with 45 already in operating and a further 35 to be delivered. These new technology aircraft are most frequently seen jetting around Europe, connecting places like London, Reykjavik, and Athens with SAS bases in Stockholm, Copenhagen, and Oslo.
But earlier this week, a pair of these narrowbodies took a much longer trip than they were accustomed to. Rather than flying a typical two- or three-hour hop, these neos flew for more than nine hours before they were wheels down again. The two little neos completed their continent-spanning flights on Monday, August 16th, traveling from Copenhagen all the way to Islamabad in Pakistan.
The first to take off was SE-ROG, a 1.7-year-old A320-200neo with an all-economy cabin for 180 passengers. The aircraft departed Copenhagen at 16:15 local time, according to RadarBox.com. Twenty minutes later, SE-DYC followed suit. This 3.7-year-old A320-200neo departed Copenhagen at 16:36, tracking the same flight path as its younger sibling.
The two aircraft headed southeast, flying through the night to reach their destination. First to land was ROG, touching down at Islamabad (ISB) at 04:48 the next morning. Bang on time, just 12 minutes later, DYC touched down also.
More than nine hours in flight
The total flight time for these aircraft was in excess of nine hours, with the slower plane clocking in at nine hours and 24 minutes, according to RadarBox.com data.
The great circle distance of this flight would have been about 5,000 km if flown directly. However, as we can see from the flight track, the aircraft had to skirt around Iranian and Afghan airspace, giving these aircraft a total distance traveled of 5,156 km (3,204 miles).
This mileage is well within the scope of the A320neo, with its maximum published range of 6,300 km (3,915 miles). The fact they probably flew out empty would have helped with the range, making these some of the longest A320neo flights we’ve seen to date.
According to the Foreign Minister for Pakistan, the country is assisting with the evacuation of some 431 Afghan nationals who are working for the Danish government. With Afghan airspace uncontrolled, these personnel were likely evacuated to Islamabad to rendezvous with the SAS planes to go home.
Spoke with FM @JeppeKofod today and shared:
➖ Pakistan is facilitating the evacuation of diplomatic and international community from Kabul including the evacuation of 431 Afghan nationals working for the Danish government.
— Shah Mahmood Qureshi (@SMQureshiPTI) August 16, 2021
Today, the Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen confirmed that the first airlift from Afghanistan had been completed. At a press conference this afternoon, she stated,
“This morning, the first evacuation plane landed in Copenhagen, and I can now confirm that this morning we managed to lift another 84 people out, including local employees and interpreters. In the coming days, we will continue this work with our partners.”
The establishment of an ‘air bridge’ between Denmark and Islamabad will facilitate more evacuations in the coming days. For the two neos, it seems they are awaiting their passengers, as both are still on the ground in Pakistan.