SAS Announces First Airbus A350 Routes

SAS will receive the first of the eight A350s the airline has on order by the end of the year. Today they have revealed which routes they will be used on, as well as dropping some hints about what we can expect on board.

SAS A350
The SAS A350 will be heading to Chicago in January. Photo: SAS

The Scandinavian group is working towards a January 28th launch for the aircraft, following crew training and familiarization through the early part of the year. The initial route will be to Chicago, with further services added as more planes are delivered.

First routes

The first route for the A350 is scheduled to operate between Copenhagen and Chicago. SAS say this is one of their most popular routes. Following deployment to Chicago, the A350 will be used on six other routes over the course of the year. These include Beijing, New York, Tokyo, Shanghai, Hong Kong and San Francisco.

A350 routes
The SAS A350 routes. Image: GCMap

Karl Sandlund SAS Executive Vice President Commercial, said in a press release,

”We will shorten the distance from Scandinavia to cultures and important markets by serving worldwide destinations in an efficient and comfortable way. We look forward to welcoming our passengers on board this state-of the-art aircraft. Our new fleet is incredibly well suited to Scandinavian travel patterns and tailored to meet market demands. This new aircraft will strengthen our customer offering,”

What can we expect from the SAS A350?

We already know that the eight twin aisle jets are being taken by SAS with the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines. But what else do we know?

SAS say that their aircraft will be configured in a three class layout. Like many airlines, they’ve chosen not to install first class, but instead to go with business, premium economy and economy. In business, we can expect 40 seats, with 32 in premium economy and 228 in economy.

While the seats and layout are being kept under wraps, we can make some assumptions based on the numbers that they’ve given. The total number of seats is just 300, which is at the bottom of the range for the A350 in a three class setup. That suggests they’re going for fully flat business seats with direct aisle access, and are thankfully avoiding 10 abreast economy seating.

SAS A350
Hopefully a great on-board product too. Photo: Airbus

It’s a similar number to Air France’s A350, which has business in a 1-2-1 configuration and premium economy and economy in 2-4-2 and 3-3-3 respectively. It’s also pretty similar to Finnair’s, but they’ve gone for the reverse herringbone in business and 3-3-3 throughout the economy cabins.

Although we’ll have to wait for the big reveal to see what they’ve picked for the interiors, SAS have said that, “the A350 will be equipped with unique SAS features, carefully developed from feedback given from travelers.” Sounds exciting; they’ll be announcing these over the course of the year, so we’ll look forward to hearing what they are!

Working towards a single type fleet

The A350 order is part of an extensive fleet renewal by SAS, as they look to upgrade to modern replacements for aging planes. Right now, they operate a mixed fleet of four A319s, 11 A320s, eight A321s, eight A330s and 61 of the Boeing 737 family, split between -600s, -700s and -800s.

They have 71 A320neos on order, of which they have received 17 so far. The airline intends to replace all 737s with the A320neo, as well as their older A320s, streamlining their fleet into a single type rather than the mixed bag of Boeings that take care of their short haul needs today.

The A320neo will be the short haul workhorse for the airline. Photo: stein380 via Flickr

It seems the airline is looking to the A330 for its medium to long haul operations, and the A350 for long haul routes. By 2023, they plan to become an all Airbus airline, something which they say will “lead to increased flexibility, and enable further standardizations and enhancements to efficiency in the production.”

Are you excited to see the A350 join the SAS fleet? Will you be taking a trip? Let us know in the comments.