Is there sufficient demand for transatlantic flights from smaller Scandinavian markets? Airlines have tried off and on over the years and failed to sustain the routes long term. But that won’t stop SAS from trying again. The carrier will fly from Aalborg, Denmark and Gothenburg, Sweden to Newark in Summer 2023.
We see a demand from secondary cities and are delighted to connect even more parts of the world.– Erik Westman, EVP & CCO, Network and Revenue management.
Each route will operate 3x weekly, launching at the end of April 2023 for the Summer season on its A321LR aircraft.
As with other airlines who have tried similar routes, SAS is angling to deliver more convenient service for travelers from its regional markets. As EVP & CCO, Network and Revenue management Erik Westman explains, “The Airbus A321 Long Range is a slightly smaller long-distance aircraft and perfect in size for servicing the regional markets. Having a comfortable way of traveling with fewer stops to exciting cities such as New York, is something we believe will be highly valued by our travelers.”
SAS’s A321LRs fly with 22 Business, 12 Premium Economy and 123 Economy class seats, meaning a total of 157 seats in a single aisle aircraft. The aircraft features hi-speed WiFi and IFE screens at each seat.
To cross the Atlantic today those passengers would connect in Copenhagen or Stockholm or another carrier’s hub. No doubt the point-to-point service can attract some customers, and the smaller A321LR cabins should be easier to fill.
Perhaps most significant, however, is the ability for SAS to sell it as travel to New York City, rather than US carriers’ prior efforts to sell services to smaller towns. Brand recognition and demand at the smaller end of the market is likely to help the routes more than, for example, United pushing passengers on a 757-200 to Bergen in Summer 2022. That route will not return for Summer 2023.
It is also worth noting that these are not the only long-haul flights from the markets. TUIfly offers seasonal trips to Thailand nonstop as well. Those typically compete against a double connect routing, however, versus the slightly more convenient single stop routings for transatlantic trips.
The published schedule also raises an interesting question about aircraft utilization and crew scheduling for SAS.
The plane will, for the most part, fly in from one Scandinavia one evening and return to the alternate location that same night. On Monday nights, however, the plane will not return to Europe. Instead, it appears to overnight in Newark for 24+ hours, returning on Tuesday instead. That’s slightly unusual, but seems to work for the carrier.
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