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Scandinavian Airlines System

Scandinavian Airlines (SAS)
Founded 1 August 1946
Focus cities
  • Bergen-Flesland International Airport
  • Gothenburg-Landvetter Airport
  • Stavanger-Sola Airport
  • Trondheim-Værnes Airport
  • Frequent-flyer program EuroBonus
    Airport lounge Scandinavian Lounge & Business Lounge
    Alliance Star Alliance
    Fleet size 130 (+52 orders and 17 options)
    Destinations 100+
    Company slogan Service and simplicity.
    Parent company SAS Group
    Headquarters Stockholm-Arlanda Airport,
    Sigtuna, Sweden
    Key people

    Scandinavian Airlines or SAS, previously Scandinavian Airlines System, is the flag carrier of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden,[1] and the largest airline in Scandinavia.

    Part of the SAS Group and headquartered at Stockholm-Arlanda Airport in Sigtuna, Sweden, the airline operates 182 aircraft to 90 destinations. The airline's main hubs are at Copenhagen-Kastrup Airport, Oslo-Gardermoen Airport, and Stockholm-Arlanda Airport, while Kastrup enjoys its role as the eminent European and intercontinental hub. Minor hubs also exist at Bergen-Flesland International Airport, Gothenburg-Landvetter Airport, Stavanger-Sola Airport and Trondheim-Værnes

    In 2012, SAS carried 25.9 million passengers, achieving revenues of SEK 36 billion.[2] This makes it the ninth-largest airline in Europe. The SAS fleet consists of Airbus A319, A320, A321, A330 and A340, Boeing 737 Classic and Next Generation, Bombardier CRJ900.

    The airline was founded in 1946 as a consortium to pool the transatlantic operations resource management pool of Det Danske Luftfartselskab, Svensk Interkontinental Lufttrafik and Det Norske Luftfartselskap. The SAS consortium was extended to cover European and domestic cooperations two years later. In 1951, all the airlines were merged to create SAS.

    SAS is one of the founding members of Star Alliance.



    The airline was founded on 1 August 1946, when Svensk Interkontinental Lufttrafik AB (an airline owned by the Swedish Wallenberg family), Det Danske Luftfartselskab A/S and Det Norske Luftfartselskap AS (the flag carriers of Denmark and Norway) formed a partnership to handle the intercontinental air traffic of these three Scandinavian countries.[3] Operations started on 17 September 1946. In 1948 the Swedish flag carrier AB Aerotransport joined SAS and the companies coordinated European operations and finally merged to form the SAS Consortium in 1951. When established, the airline was divided between SAS Danmark (28.6%), SAS Norge (28.6%) and SAS Sverige (42.8%), all owned 50% by private investors and 50% by their governments.

    Trans polar route

    In 1954, SAS was the first airline to initiate scheduled service over a polar route. The DC-6B flew from Copenhagen to Los Angeles, California, U.S.A. with stops in Søndre Strømfjord, Greenland, and Winnipeg, Canada. By summer 1956, the frequency of this service had increased to three flights per week. It was popular with Hollywood celebrities and film industry people, and the route turned out to be a publicity coup for SAS. Thanks to a tariff structure that allowed free transit to other European destinations via Copenhagen, this trans-polar route gained increasing popularity with American tourists throughout the 1950s. Starting in 1957, SAS initiated service on a second polar route when a DC-7C flew from Copenhagen to Tokyo, Japan, via Anchorage, Alaska, U.S.A.. At that time, the trans-polar service via Alaska was an compromise solution since the Soviet Union would not grant SAS - and other air carriers - permission to fly across Siberia between Europe and Japan, while the airspace of the PR China was also closed to overflights. SAS publicized this service as "round the world service over the North Pole".

    Jet Era

    SAS entered the jet age in 1959 when the Caravelle entered service. In 1971, SAS put its first Boeing 747 jumbo jet into service.

    Acquisition of local airlines

    SAS gradually acquired control of the domestic markets in all three countries by acquiring full or partial control of local airlines, including Braathens and Widerøe in Norway, Linjeflyg and Skyways Express in Sweden and Cimber Air in Denmark. In 1989, SAS acquired 18.4% of Texas Air Corporation, parent company of Continental Airlines, in a bid to form a global alliance. This stake was later sold. During the 1990s, SAS also bought a 20% stake in British Midland. SAS bought 95% of Spanair, the second largest airline in Spain, as well as Air Greenland. There are plans to dispose of all of these holdings[4] and an agreement to divest more than 80 percent of the holdings in Spanair was signed with a Catalonian group of investors led by Consorci de Turisme de Barcelona and Catalana d'Inciatives in January 2009.[5]

    Star Alliance founding member

    In May 1997 SAS formed the global Star Alliance network with Air Canada, Lufthansa, Thai Airways International and United Airlines. Four years earlier SAS unsuccessfully tried to merge with KLM, Austrian, and the now defunct Swissair, in a project called Alcazar.[6] This failure led to the departure the following year of CEO Jan Carlzon, who was credited for the financial turnaround of the company starting in 1981 and who envisioned SAS ownership of multiple airlines worldwide. The ownership structure of SAS was changed in June 2001, with a holding company being created in which the holdings of the governments changed to: Sweden (21.4%), Norway (14.3%) and Denmark (14.3%) and the remaining 50% publicly held and traded on the stock market.

    Contemporary history (2004–present)

    In 2004 Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) was divided into four companies; SAS Scandinavian Airlines Sverige AB, SAS Scandinavian Airlines Danmark AS, SAS Braathens AS and SAS Scandinavian International AS. SAS Braathens was re-branded SAS Scandinavian Airlines Norge AS in 2007.[7] In October 2009 the four companies were once again united into one company, SAS Scandinavian System AB.

    With the coming of low-cost airlines and decreasing fares in Scandinavia the business turned into the red. To be profitable again, the airline had to cut costs. In a first step the airline sold its stakes in other companies, such as bmi, Spanair and AirBaltic, and began to restructure its operations.[8][9][10] This was to save costs by about 23 percent between 2008 and 2011. The next big cost-cutting measure followed by the end of 2011. It should generate cost savings of another three to four percent until 2015. In June 2012 the airline announced that they will extend this measure.[11] In November 2012 the company came under heavy pressure from its owners and banks to implement even heavier cost-cutting measures as a condition for continued financial support. Negotiations with the respective trade unions took place for more than a week and exceeded the original deadline, but in the end SAS and the trade unions reached an agreement that would increase the worktime, cutting salary between 12-20%, pension and retirement plans, and thus keep the airline flying. SAS drew some criticism for how they handled the negotiations, in denying facilities to the union delegations.[12]

    Corporate affairs

    Corporate offices

    Scandinavian Airlines' head office is at Stockholm Arlanda Airport (ARN) in Sigtuna Municipality, Sweden.[13] The SAS Cargo Group A/S head office is in Kastrup, Tårnby Municipality, Denmark.[14]

    Until 2011, the SAS head office was located in Frösundavik, Solna Municipality, Sweden, near Stockholm.[15][16] It was designed by Niels Torp Architects and built between 1985-1987. The move from Solna to Arlanda was completed in 2010.[17] A previous SAS head office was located on the grounds of Bromma Airport in Stockholm.[18]


    Besides the agreements SAS has with its Star Alliance partners, SAS has strategic agreements with Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian and United. The agreement includes code sharing and schedule coordination to facilitate improved connections between SAS and its partner airlines. SAS also co-operates with the other airlines in the SAS Group.

    SAS has begun code-sharing with Shanghai Airlines, complementing its code-share arrangement with Air China.


    Scandinavian Airlines International – SAS
    Responsible for the SAS International Group's intercontinental traffic with long haul routes to North America and Asia out of the main hub in Copenhagen, as well as Stockholm and Oslo. Scandinavian Airlines International also operates all sales units outside Scandinavia. Scandinavian Airlines International has 900 employees.
    Scandinavian Airlines Denmark
    Responsible for the traffic from Copenhagen to other European countries, the route from Copenhagen to Oslo, as well as for Danish domestic routes. Scandinavian Airlines DK is responsible for the sales units within Denmark. The company has 2800 employees.
    Scandinavian Airlines Sweden
    Responsible for the traffic from Stockholm to other European countries, as well as for Swedish domestic routes. Scandinavian Airlines Sweden is also responsible for the sales units within Sweden. The company has 2500 employees.
    Scandinavian Airlines Norway
    Scandinavian Airlines Norge is the result of the merger of SAS Norway and Braathens. The airline was first called SAS Braathens, but changed its name to Scandinavian Airlines Norge in 2007. SAS Norge is responsible for the traffic within Norway, as well as for the routes from Norway to other European countries. SAS Norge is also responsible for the sales units within Norway. The company has 3,500 employees.
    SAS Business Opportunities

    Key business trends

    The key trends for Scandinavian Airlines (which includes SAS Cargo, SAS Ground Handling and SAS Tech), but not including the SAS Group's 'individually branded airlines', for example Widerøe, are shown below (as at year ending 31 December, except 2012 figures, for the 10 months to 31 October):

    2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
    Turnover (SEKm) 47,536 39,696 36,524 36,735 33,148 28,492
    Profits (EBT) (SEKm) −188 −1,522 −33 543 228
    Number of passengers (m) 25.4 21.4 21.5 22.9 21.7 18.7
    Passenger load factor (%) 71.9 71.6 75.2 74.6 76.0 73.0
    Total unit cost (CASK) (SEK) 0.94* 1.01* 0.95* 0.86* 0.81 0.78
    Total unit revenue (RASK) (SEK) 0.91* 0.92* 0.86* 0.82* 0.84 0.81
    Number of aircraft (at year end) 181 172 159 147 143 144
    Number of employees (average for year) 16,286 14,438 13,723 13,479 13,591 12,937
    Notes/sources *Figure for SAS Group [19] [20] [21] [22] [23][24] [25]

    The company has agreed that its financial year will in future be 1 November – 31 October, instead of the calendar year;[26] the current financial year runs from 1 November 2012 – 31 October 2013.


    Further information: SAS Group destinations

    Codeshare agreements

    Scandinavian Airlines has codeshare agreements with the following airlines; (*) indicates Star Alliance:

    Interline agreements

    Scandinavian Airlines has interlining agreements with the following airlines; (*) indicates Star Alliance:


    Main article: List of Scandinavian Airlines aircraft

    Current fleet

    The Scandinavian Airlines fleet includes the following aircraft (as of October 2013):[31]

    Scandinavian Airlines Fleet
    Aircraft In Service Orders Options Passengers Notes
    C Y M
    Airbus A319-100 4 0 0 141 141 "Christian Valdemar Viking" (OY-KBO) painted in retro livery[32]
    Airbus A320-200 11 2 0 0 168 168 Leased until delivery of Airbus A320neo.
    Airbus A320neo 30 11 0 0 TBA TBA Deliveries from 2016
    Airbus A321-200 8 0 0 198 198
    Airbus A330-300 4 4[33] 34 35 195 264 One painted in Star Alliance livery [34]
    Deliveries from 2015.
    Airbus A340-300 6

    OY-KBM in Star Alliance livery [35]
    Aircraft on order is ex-LAN Chile.
    Airbus A350-900 8[33] 6 36 32 240 308 Deliveries from 2018.[36]
    Boeing 737-400 1 0 0 150 150 Final flight: 20 December 2013.
    Boeing 737-500 3 0 0 120 120 Final flight: 20 December 2013.
    Boeing 737-600 27 0 0 123 123
    Boeing 737-700 26 5 0 0 141 141
    Boeing 737-800 27 2[37] 0 0 186 186 LN-RRL painted in Star Alliance livery [38]
    New aircraft leased from GECAS
    Bombardier CRJ900 NextGen 12 0 0 88 88
    Total 130 52 17

    Future fleet plans

    SAS has earlier stated that they plan to buy up to 55 new narrow-body aircraft to replace its McDonnell Douglas MD-80s and Boeing 737 Classics. But as a revised plan they will replace 9 McDonnell Douglas MD-80s and 11 Boeing 737 Classics with 17 leased Boeing 737 Next Generations. 17 McDonnell Douglas MD-80s will later be replaced by Airbus A320s.[39]

    On 20 June 2011, SAS announced an order for 30 new A320 next generation aircraft as part of its fleet harmonisation plan. SAS has earlier announced that the fleet will be harmonized. Its short range aircraft will consist of two types from 2015: Airbus A320 family at the base in Copenhagen and Boeing 737NG at the bases in Stockholm and Oslo. As of May 2013, the McDonnell Douglas MD-80s have been reduced to 6 of which all, are based in Copenhagen. The airline intends to further reduce the number of aircraft down to 5 by July and the last aircraft will be withdrawn from service in late October 2013. There are currently 6 leased A320s in the SAS fleet at the beginning of May 2013

    As part of the transition, all the MD80s in Copenhagen will be replaced by leased Airbus A320 and be completed by the end of 2014. The leased A320s, in turn will be replaced by 30 new A320neos beginning in 2016. Airbus A320 is very attractive in the market and the SAS Group expects to finance the aircraft through a combination of leases and loans.

    All the MD80s at the base in Stockholm will be replaced by leased Boeing 737NGs, which will be completed during 2013. Finally all the Boeing 737 Classics at the base in Oslo will be replaced by Boeing 737NGs and this will be completed by the end of 2014.

    On 25 June 2013, SAS and Airbus signed a Memorandum of Understanding stating that SAS intends to buy 12 new generation aircraft, including 6 options. The agreement consists of 8 A350-900 with 6 options, and 4 A330-300E. The first new long haul aircraft to enter service will be the A330-300E, which will replace the aging A340-300 in 2015 as leasing agreements on these aircraft expire. The A350-900 is planned to enter service beginning in 2018. SAS has dubbed this “A total renewal of long haul fleet”, indicating that all former A340 and A330 will in fact be replaced.[40]

    Removal of SAS Dash Q400 fleet

    In September 2007, two separate incidents of similar landing gear failures occurred within four days of each other on SAS Dash 8-Q400 aircraft. A third incident occurred in October 2007. On 28 October 2007, in a move that was described as unique by the Swedish press, the board of directors announced that all 27 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft were to be removed from service due to three landing gear failures.[41]

    A press release from SAS said that the company had reached a settlement with Bombardier and Goodrich, whereby the airline would receive SEK one billion as compensation, while SAS would purchase 27 new aircraft, with an option of 24 more. These aircraft will consist of 13 of the CRJ900 Nextgen (10 to SAS and 3 to Estonian Air) and 14 of the updated Q400 Nextgen units (8 to airBaltic and 6 to Widerøe), with 7 additional options.[42][43]

    SAS received the first CRJ-900 on December 3, 2008, with others soon to follow. The CRJ900 fleet now consists of 12 aircraft.

    SAS sold its original Bombardier Dash 8-Q400 fleet to Philippine Airlines for operation with subsidiary PAL Express, and also to Malev Hungarian Airlines.

    In November 2007, it was revealed that Swedish Civil Aviation Authority began an investigation and accused Scandinavian Airlines System of cutting corners for maintenance. The airline reportedly made 2,300 flights in which safety equipment was not up to standard.[44]


    SAS planes look predominantly white, however, they are a very light beige with "Scandinavian" above the windows and "Airlines" below the windows in white lettering except for the belly which is actually white. The vertical stabilizers are blue with the traditional "SAS" logo on it. Also, the engine casing is painted in scarlet with the word Scandinavian in white, the thrust reversers are white.


    Service classes

    SAS offers two service classes for intra-European flights, an economy class called "SAS Go" and a premium economy class called "SAS Plus". SAS Plus tickets are refundable, and include a meal, a double checked-in baggage allowance, and access to lounges and fast track immigration/security at the airport. The SAS Plus passengers are seated at the front of the aircraft but the seats there are otherwise the same as the SAS Go seats. The two-class system was introduced in June 2013, when business class was eliminated from intra-European flights.[45]

    For long-haul flights business class, called "SAS Business", is still offered and features wide sleeper seats. Further back the seats offered on SAS Plus are wider than those in the SAS Go section. Meals are served to all passengers on long-haul flights.


    The following locations are SAS Scandinavian, Stockholm, and Business locations:

    Fingerprint biometric identification

    In 2006, SAS Sweden launched a new biometric system for use throughout Sweden. Each passenger's fingerprints are, for security purposes, matched to their respective checked baggage. The new technology will be phased in at all the airports served by SAS, although use of the system is voluntary for passengers. The system has been introduced in Norway.


    SAS's frequent-flyer program is called EuroBonus. Members also earn points on other Star Alliance flights.

    Fly Home Club

    Fly Home Club was SAS's membership club for Scandinavians living in Spain. It has closed ever since economic conditions have worsened in Spain and as Scandinavians living in Spain have decided to return home or change locations.

    Incidents and accidents

    • On 4 July 1948, a DC-6B, SE-BDA collided with an RAF Avro York at Northwood, north of London, England. All 32 on board were killed. See Northwood mid-air collision.
    • On 19 January 1960, a Caravelle III, OY-KRB crashed near Ankara, Turkey. All 42 on board were killed. See Scandinavian Airlines Flight 871
    • On 13 January 1969, SAS flight 933 DC-8-62, LN-MOO, hit the water while approaching Los Angeles. 15 of the 45 on board were killed.
    • On 19 April 1970 a DC-8-62, SE-DBE, experienced an uncontained engine fire during takeoff from Rome. Aircraft burned out, but all on board managed to evacuate safely.
    • On 30 January 1973, a DC-9-21, LN-RLM SAS flight 370, Oslo-Alta via Tromsø, was cleared for takeoff from runway 24. The takeoff run was normal and the DC-9 rotated at VR (125 knots). At that moment the stall warning system activated. Although the speed had increased to 140 knots (259 km/h), the pilot aborted the takeoff. The remaining 1100 m was not enough to bring the aircraft to a halt, the reversers did not deploy completely and the aircraft overran the runway and onto the ice covered Oslofjord. All passengers and crew evacuated before the plane broke through the ice and sank 20 minutes later. The decision to abort the take-off in spite of the high speed was because the flight crew had received outdated (by several hours) runway data, giving much better braking coefficients than the actual ones.
    • On 28 February 1984, Scandinavian Airlines Flight 901 departed Oslo (GEN) for a flight to New York City JFK. The aircraft touched down 1440 m past the runway 04R threshold. The crew steered the plane to the right side off the runway to avoid approach lights. The McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30 ended up in shallow water. All on board the plane were uninjured.
    • On 23 February 1987, SAS flight 355, an McDonnell Douglas DC-9-41, SE-DAT landed hard on runway 27 at Trondheim Airport, Værnes and a go-around was initiated. After the second landing, the tail of the aircraft was found to have struck the runway, causing severe damage. The aircraft was written off.
    • On 27 December 1991, SAS flight 751, an MD-81, OY-KHO "Dana Viking" crash landed at Gottröra (Sweden). During the initial climb, both engines ingested ice particles having broken loose from the wings, which had not been properly de-iced before departure. The ice damaged the compressor blades causing compressor stall. The stall caused repeated engine surges that destroyed both engines, leaving the aircraft with no propulsion. The aircraft landed in a field and broke in three parts. No fire broke out and all aboard the plane survived. Captain Stefan G. Rasmussen was later decorated by the Danish Queen for his performance. This incident was mentioned on The History Channel's True Action Adventures episode "Against All Odds" which first aired in the United States on 2 April 1997.
    • The Linate Airport disaster, involving the highest number of SAS passenger fatalities, occurred on 8 October 2001 in Milan, Italy, when an MD-87, SAS flight SK686, SE-DMA collided with a small Cessna jet during take-off. All 104 passengers and 6 crew aboard SK686 were killed, along with four people on the Cessna and another four people on the ground. Italian authorities established that the cause of the accident was a misunderstanding between air traffic controllers and the Cessna jet, and that the SAS crew had no role in causing the accident. Another factor was the inoperative ground movement radar at the time of the accident.
    • In the autumn of 2007, three separate incidents occurred, involving landing gear problems with the de Havilland Canada Dash 8-400 (Q400) airplane. These incidents (SAS flight 1209, SAS flight 2748 and SAS flight 2867), while not resulting in hull loss or fatalities, were widely publicized in the media and eventually led to SAS permanently retiring its Dash 8 Q400 fleet.[46]
    • On 23 August 2010, a female flight attendant sustained serious spinal injuries when the aircraft, a Boeing 737-600 encountered severe turbulence during approach to London Heathrow Airport. No injuries among the passengers were reported.[47]
    • On 1 May 2013, Scandinavian Airlines flight 908, an A330 that was readied for takeoff at Newark caused a tail loss incident of United Express flight 4226, an ExpressJet Embraer E145 aircraft.[48][49]

    See also

    Denmark portal
    Norway portal
    Sweden portal
    Companies portal
    Aviation portal


    External links

    Company websites
    • SAS website
    • SAS Denmark website
    • SAS Norway website
    • SAS Sweden website
    • SAS Group corporate website
    • SAS Flight Operations
    Other websites
    • Viking Tails, Scandinavian airline history blog
    • Pictures of Scandinavian Airlines fleet

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