SAS To Delay Final Airbus A350 Deliveries

SAS Scandinavian Airlines acquired a new CEO a little over seven weeks ago. However, its new widebody deliveries will have to wait a little longer. In its Q3 results presentation, the carrier’s final two Airbus A350 on order are now slotted to arrive sometime during the fiscal year of 2024.

SAS A350
The final Airbus A350s will not join the SAS fleet for another three years. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

SAS is still in the red about 1.4 billion Swedish kronor ($162.5 million) for the third quarter of 2021. However, passenger numbers have more than doubled compared to the quarter prior, and over one million people traveled with the airline in August. Furthermore, the airline’s cash flow is positive for the first time in over a year.

Meanwhile, SAS’ new CEO, Anko van der Werff, says the carrier will need to change course, moving away from its traditional focus on business travel. Like many other carriers, SAS also predicts a lower demand for long-haul air travel over the next few years.

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Better aligned with demand

As such, the airline has pushed back the delivery of its remaining Airbus A350-900 to 2024. SAS has kept receiving A350s during the pandemic. Its first arrived in December 2019, and the latest in June this year. The final two were previously scheduled to arrive in 2022 and 2023, respectively.

“[We] pushed the delivery of the next two A350s by one year and that is a significant change. And I think that’s a positive, and I think that’s aligned much better with the demand going forward,” ch-aviation quotes the airline’s Executive Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer, Magnus Örnberg.

SAS took delivery of its first A350-900 in December 2019. Photo: Airbus

All-Airbus transition to reduce emissions

SAS has a total of 39 aircraft on order. Besides the two A350s, it is expecting 35 A320neos and two A321LRs. The former are set to be delivered in intervals over the next four years, with the bulk arriving in 2022 and 2023. Meanwhile, the two A321LRs are set to join the fleet later this year.

The carrier’s fleet renewal will play a big part in achieving the environmental conditions tied to the government support money granted by the Danish and Swedish governments. As a first step, SAS is required to lower its overall CO2 emissions by 25% by 2025, compared to 2005 levels. The second step will be to cut them in half by 2030.

In order to achieve this, SAS plans to operate a fleet of modern all-Airbus aircraft. At the time being, the airline still has 26 Boeing 737s with an average age of 16 years. However, the oldest aircraft in the fleet are its eight A321-200s, inching close to 20 years of age.

SAS A321-200
The oldest aircraft in SAS’s fleet are the near 20-year-old A321-200s. Photo: Eric Salard via Wikimedia Commons

Speaking to Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter last week, van der Werff said that he did not expect to have to ask the airline’s state-owners for additional funds at this stage.

“It is not in our plans. At the same time, no one has a crystal ball to be able to predict how long this might still go on. The positive thing is that we are not burning any cash in our day-to-day operations this quarter and that we have a credit line of SEK 3 billion as a backup.” 

Have you flown on SAS’ new A350s yet? How was your experience? Leave a comment below and let us know.