Trisha Shetty (Editor)

Scandinavian Airlines

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Fleet size

Star Alliance

Parent organization
SAS Group

Frequent-flyer program


Stockholm, Sweden

Scandinavian Airlines

1 August 1946; 70 years ago (1 August 1946)

Focus cities
Bergen Airport Göteborg Landvetter Airport Stavanger Airport Trondheim Airport, Værnes

Rickard Gustafson (1 Feb 2011–)

Stockholm Arlanda Airport, Oslo Airport, Gardermoen, Copenhagen Airport

Norwegian Air Lines, Danish Air Lines, Swedish Intercontinental Airlines


New cabin sas scandinavian airlines airbus a330 300 copenhagen washington 13 nov 2015

Scandinavian Airlines, often shortened to SAS (previously Scandinavian Airlines System and legally Scandinavian Airlines System Denmark-Norway-Sweden) is the flag carrier of Sweden, Norway and Denmark, and the largest airline in Scandinavia.


Part of the SAS Group and headquartered at the SAS Frösundavik Office Building in Solna, Sweden, the airline operates 182 aircraft to 90 destinations. The airline's main hub is at Copenhagen-Kastrup Airport, with connections to over 50 cities in Europe. Stockholm-Arlanda Airport (with more than 30 European connections) and Oslo Airport, Gardermoen are the other major hubs. Minor hubs also exist at Bergen Airport, Flesland, Göteborg Landvetter Airport, Stavanger Airport, Sola and Trondheim Airport, Værnes. While SAS Cargo is an independent and wholly owned subsidiary to Scandinavian Airlines, SAS Cargo has its main office at Copenhagen Airport.

In 2012, SAS carried 25.9 million passengers, achieving revenues of SEK 36 billion. This makes it the eighth-largest airline in Europe. The SAS fleet consists of Airbus A319, A320, A321, A330 and A340, Boeing 737 Next Generation, and Bombardier CRJ900 aircraft. In addition, SAS also wetleases ATR 72, Saab 2000 and Bombardier CRJ900 aircraft.

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

SAS is also one of the founding members of the world's largest alliance, Star Alliance.

Shanghai copenhagen sas scandinavian airlines airbus a340 300 oy kbc


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. 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 start scheduled flights on a polar route. The DC-6B flew from Copenhagen to Los Angeles, California, United States with stops in Søndre Strømfjord (now Kangerlussuaq), Greenland, and Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. By summer 1956 frequency 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. In 1957 SAS started a second polar route when a DC-7C flew from Copenhagen to Tokyo, Japan, via the Anchorage International Airport. The flight via Alaska was a compromise solution since the Soviet Union would not allow SAS, among other air carriers, to fly across Siberia between Europe and Japan, and the Chinese airspace was also closed. 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 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.

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, Star Alliance partner Austrian Airlines, and the now defunct Swissair, in a project called Alcazar. 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 A/S, SAS Braathens AS and SAS Scandinavian International AS. SAS Braathens was re-branded SAS Scandinavian Airlines Norge AS in 2007. 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. 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. 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. As of November 2013, there was the expectation that the company would show 2013 as its first profitable year since 2007.

Corporate affairs

During its first decades, Scandinavian Airlines, SAS, built two large hotels in central Copenhagen, SAS Royal Hotel (5 stars) and the even larger SAS Hotel Scandinavia (4 stars with a Casino on the 26th floor). After the deregulation of European commercial aviation, and the crisis afterwards which affected SAS, like many other national airline corporations, Scandinavian Airlines sold their hotels to Radisson.

Corporate offices

Scandinavian Airlines's head office is located in the SAS Frösundavik Office Building in Frösundavik, Solna Municipality, Sweden, near Stockholm. Between 2011 and 2013, the head office was located at Stockholm Arlanda Airport (ARN) in Sigtuna Municipality, Sweden. The SAS Cargo Group A/S head office is in Kastrup, Tårnby Municipality, Denmark.

Until 2011 the SAS head office was located in the SAS Frösundavik Office Building. It was designed by Niels Torp Architects and built between 1985-1987. The move from Solna to Arlanda was completed in 2010. A previous SAS head office was located on the grounds of Bromma Airport in Stockholm.


Besides the agreements SAS has with its Star Alliance partners, SAS has strategic agreements with Lufthansa, Swiss International Air Lines, Austrian Airlines, Air Canada and United Airlines. 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.

The key trends for Scandinavian Airlines Group (which includes SAS Cargo, SAS Ground Handling and SAS Tech), are shown below:

(In 2012 the company changed its financial year to 1 November–31 October, instead of the calendar year. The figures above are therefore for years ending 31 December until 2011, for the 10 months to 31 October 2012, and for years ending 31 October thereafter.)

Codeshare agreements

Scandinavian Airlines codeshares with the following airlines:

Interline agreements

Scandinavian Airlines has interlining agreements with the following airlines:

  • Air Greenland
  • City statistics

    These statistics about each of SAS hubs and busiest airports are current as of March 2014. (Ranked by daily departures).

    Current fleet

    Scandinavian Airlines operates the following aircraft (as of March 2017):

    Future fleet plans

    On 20 June 2011, SAS announced an order for 30 new A320neo aircraft as part of its fleet harmonisation plan. SAS had earlier announced that the fleet will be harmonized. Its short-range aircraft consists of two types from 2015: Airbus A320 family at the base in Copenhagen, and Boeing 737NG at the bases in Oslo and Stockholm. As of Dec 2014, the McDonnell Douglas MD-80s have been phased out. There were six leased A320s in the SAS fleet at the beginning of May 2013.

    As part of the transition, all the MD80s in Copenhagen have been replaced by leased Airbus A320 by the end of 2014. All the MD80s previously at the base in Stockholm have been replaced by leased Boeing 737NGs, completed during 2013. Finally all the Boeing 737 Classics at the base in Oslo have been phased out and replaced by Boeing 737NG. The current (2016) short haul fleet consists of Airbus A319/320/321 based in Copenhagen, and Boeing 737NG based in Stockholm and Oslo and one Airbus A320neo based in Stockholm . Combined with wetleased ATR72 and CRJ900.

    That situation will however change when the first A320neo on order are being delivered in September 2016. It will, together with the first seven A320neos, be based in Stockholm were they will replace the oldest and smallest Boeing 737NGs. Aircraft deliveries after that will be based in either Stockholm or Copenhagen, where they will replace A320ceos moved to Stockholm. SAS' goal is to have an all-Airbus fleet at their bases in Stockholm and Copenhagen by 2019 when all A320neos have been delivered. The Boeing 737-600s as well as a few 737-700 will be scrapped or sold. The remaining 737-700 as well as the 737-800 will be moved to the base in Oslo.

    On 25 June 2013, SAS and Airbus signed a Memorandum of Understanding stating that SAS intends to buy twelve new-generation aircraft, including six options. The agreement consists of eight A350-900 with six options, and four A330-300E. The first new long haul aircraft to enter service will be the A330-300E, which were originally planned to replace the aging A340-300 in 2015 as leasing agreements on these aircraft expire. Instead SAS renewed the leasing agreements to be able to expand its long-haul fleet and used the new A330-300Es to add more long-haul destinations to its network. 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, although the total renewal could also refer to the new interior in the long haul fleet.

    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.

    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.

    SAS received the first CRJ-900 on 3 December 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.


    The current livery was introduced in 1998, and is designed by SthlmLab (Stockholm Design Lab). SAS aircraft look predominantly white, however, the fuselage is in a very light beige (Pantone Warm Gray 2/Pantone 9083C) with "Scandinavian" above the windows in silver lettering (Pantone 877) and "Airlines" below the windows in white. The typeface used is Rotis Semi Serif. The vertical stabiliser (and winglets) are painted blue (Pantone 2738C) with the classic white SAS logo on it. It is a variant of the traditional SAS logotype, slimmed slightly and stylised by the design company Stockholm Design Lab, as part of the SAS livery change. The engine casing is painted in scarlet (Pantone Warm Red/Pantone 179C) with the word Scandinavian in white, the thrust reversers in the colour of the fuselage. All other text is painted in Pantone Warm Gray 9. The design also features stylised versions of the Scandinavian flags. All aircraft are named, traditionally after Vikings.

    Apart from the standard livery, SAS also has an Airbus A319 in retro livery and two Boeing 737 and one Airbus A340 in Star Alliance-livery.

    Business class

    For long-haul flights business class, called SAS Business, is still offered and features wide sleeper seats. On the Airbus A330s and upgraded A340s seating is 1-2-1 on seats that convert into 196–202 cm flat beds, with power sockets and a 15-inch screen. On the non upgraded A340 seating is 2-2-2 that converts into angled beds. On the Boeing 737 used on the Copenhagen-Boston route, seating is 2-2 with the old business class seats.

    SAS Plus

    Plus is SAS premium economy class. On intercontinental flights, seating is 2-3-2 on wide bodies. The seats offered on SAS Plus are wider than those in the SAS Go section.

    On European flights, SAS Plus tickets are refundable, and include a meal, a double checked-in baggage allowance, and access to lounges and fast track security at the airport. The SAS Plus passengers are seated at the front of the aircraft and passengers can choose their seat at booking for free, 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.

    SAS Go

    SAS Go, or economy offers 3-3 seating on intraeuropean flights, and 2-4-2 on the A330s and A340s.

    SAS offers free coffee & tea to GO passengers on short-haul services, except very short flights like Bergen-Stavanger and Stockholm-Visby. Meals are served to all passengers on long-haul flights.

    SAS Go Light

    Available on all European routes (excluding intra-Scandinavia) from 27 April 2016, SAS Go Light is aimed at competing with low-cost carriers for those who travel with hand luggage only.


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

  • Brussels Airport
  • Charles de Gaulle Airport
  • Chicago O'Hare International Airport
  • Copenhagen Airport (2)
  • Göteborg Landvetter Airport
  • Helsinki Airport
  • Luleå Airport SAS Café Lounge
  • Malmö Airport SAS Café Lounge
  • Newark Liberty International Airport
  • Oslo Gardermoen Airport (3)
  • Stockholm Arlanda Airport (3)
  • Tromsø Airport SAS Café Lounge
  • Trondheim Airport SAS Café Lounge
  • Ålesund Airport SAS Café Lounge
  • 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 earn points on all SAS and Widerøe flights as well as on Star Alliance flights. The EuroBonus program has more than four million members.

    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.


    Between 1984 and 1994 SAS operated a Hovercraft service between Malmö and Copenhagen Airport. Travellers could check in for their flights in Malmö and the Hovercrafts were operated as connecting flights. In 1994 the hovercrafts were replaced by catamarans that operated until 2000 when the Öresund bridge was opened and offered a rail link between Malmö and Copenhagen airport.


    SAS offer WiFi onboard 10 of their 737-800 aircraft and several of their long haul aircraft. WiFi is free for Eurobonus Gold and Diamond members as well as for those travelling in SAS Plus or Business. Otherwise, Wifi can be purchased for €6/$7/1000 EuroBonus points for flights in Scandinavia/Europe and for €15/$19/3000 EuroBonus points on all other flights.


  • 2010:
  • Flightstats: Worlds Most Punctual Airline
  • Simpliflying: Best Use of Social Media in a Crisis Situation
  • 2011:
  • Edge Awards: Favourite Airline
  • Grand Travel Award: Europe's Best Airline
  • Webbie: Online Campaign of the Year
  • 2012:
  • Webbie Award: Online Campaign of the Year
  • 2013:
  • Freddie Awards: Best Customer Service in Europe/Africa
  • Sustainable Brand Index: Most Sustainable Airline
  • 2014:
  • Grand Travel Award: Europe's Best Airline
  • 2015:
  • Grand Travel Award: Europe's Best Airline
  • ServiceScore: Airline with highest service standards.
  • References

    Scandinavian Airlines Wikipedia