SAS To Cut Emissions By Axing Onboard Tax Free Shopping

SAS has taken a radical step to curb its greenhouse gas emissions… by removing onboard duty-free shopping.

SAS airliner landing
SAS is removing the ability to buy products in flight. Photo: SAS

This move not only reduces the weight onboard aircraft, but also means that they can no longer offer a shopping service. This move is part of the airlines bigger plan to reduce carbon emissions by 25% over the next ten years, as reported by Paddle Your Own Kanoo.

What are the details?

SAS, the flag carrier airline of the Scandinavian region, has decided to discontinue its onboard shopping service, which includes carrying products for purchase, its inflight shopping magazine and associated flight attendant duties. The last flight to carry these products will be in the autumn period.

They have said that this move was inspired to reduce emissions (by carrying less onboard), changing customer trends and the growing green movement in Sweden.

“Tax-free sales have long been a popular service onboard our flights amongst passengers who have used it, but our passengers’ buying behavior has changed and sustainability has become more important than ever before,” claimed the airline in a statement to Paddle Your Own Kanoo.

Scandinavian Airbus A319
SAS flies from its hubs in Sweden and other Scandinavian countries. Photo: Wikimedia

And it’s true; customers now have the internet to browse an infinite range of products that can be shipped to their home. Typically the prices are much cheaper online, even without the tax breaks on planes.

According to duty-free shopping network and research group APEX, duty-free sales onboard aircraft have dropped from 7.3% in 2006 to just over 4% in 2014. It has fallen further since then.

However, SAS is not entirely removing the shopping experience. They have mentioned that inflight duty-free shopping will remain in some form, such as an online portal that passengers can use in flight with free shipping, or pick up at their destination. Whether or not flight crew will earn a commission (which was the policy at British Airways), remains to be seen.

What about carbon emissions?

We previously reported a growing trend in Sweden that passengers were preferring rail travel over planes, due to the larger impact of CO2 gasses on aircraft.

“Withdrawing tax-free sales will reduce the overall weight of the aircraft, which in turn will reduce fuel consumption and emissions,” said SAS spokesperson Freja Annamatz to Airline Geeks.

“Every step on the way to sustainable travel is important,” added commercial executive vice-president Karl Sandlund in the same report. “Every initiative to reduce weight and thereby cut fuel consumption helps.”

With SAS removing the duty-free shopping onboard, they will be able to spin this economical decision to an environmental one and win back train bound customers.

This is just one move among many for the airline, such as switching to biofuel and upgrading their fleet with more fuel-efficient aircraft.

SAS will join other airlines like American Airlines and Qantas, who have also dropped the in-flight shopping experience.

What do you think? Will you miss duty-free shopping onboard aircraft? Let us know in the comments!