SAS celebrates 70th anniversary

SAS celebrates 70th anniversary

Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) is celebrating its 70th anniversary today.

The airline was formed on August 1, 1946 to merge the transatlantic operations of Swedish, Norwegian and Danish carriers Svensk Interkontinental Lufttrafik, Det Norske Luftfartselskap and Det Danske Luftfartselskab.

The first flight under the new name took place on September 17, 1946, between Stockholm and New York, using a DC-4 “Dan Viking” aircraft, with stops in Copenhagen, Prestwick and Gander (Newfoundland).

Commenting on the anniversary Rickard Gustafson, CEO and Group President, SAS said:

“The anniversary marks SAS’s position as Scandinavia’s preferred airline, focusing on making life easy for travellers to, from, and within Scandinavia.

“I am grateful to each and every passenger and employee that has contributed to SAS’ 70 year long history and our future to come. We’ve been part of seventy years of unique travel stories, and there are many more to come.”

The carrier recently extended its new Go Light hand baggage-only fare to UK routes, following last year’s trials on selected European flights.

SAS signs agreements with “seven out of eight unions”

Scandinavian carrier SAS has signed agreements with seven out of the eight unions representing its cabin crew, as the airline looks to secure its future.

SAS had announced a deadline of yesterday (November 18) for reaching agreements with the unions over an extensive cost cutting plan, and this morning confirmed that it had secured agreements with all but the Danish cabin crew union.

In a statement the carrier said that “Negotiations continue and SAS will publish additional information as soon as it is available”.

SAS is attempting to push through the “4 Excellence Next Generation” (4XNG) plan, aimed at cutting annual costs cut by around SEK 3 billion (£278.5 million), with the loss of up to 6,000 jobs, salary reductions and the outsourcing of call centres and ground handling operations.

Announcing the plan earlier this month, the carrier’s president and CEO Rickard Gustafson stressed that “it truly is our ‘final call’ if there is to be a SAS in the future”.

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Report by Mark Caswell

Join in our forum discussion on the future of SAS here.

SAS launches “crowdsourcing” site

Scandinavian carrier SAS has launched an online platform encouraging customers to share ideas on how services can be improved.

The carrier hopes that the My SAS Idea initiative will enable it to “start a continuous dialogue with its customers and enlist their help and participation in order to launch new products and services”.

The platform allows users to suggest ideas on all SAS-related subjects including service and product offerings, and the carrier’s Eurobonus loyalty scheme.

Users are able to vote for their favourite ideas, with the most popular then being “assessed and analysed by SAS”.

The carrier has previously carried out temporary crowdsourcing initiatives, including the chance to propose and vote on a new seasonal service from Oslo, but says that this is the first “fully committed and continuous platform for all aspects of our business”.

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Report by Mark Caswell

SAS to serve wine from Gérard Depardieu’s vineyard

A Rosé wine produced by French actor Gérard Depardieu and cocktails made using Pure Green Organic Vodka are just part of an organic and “close-to-market” revamp of SAS’ food and beverage offering.

The main attraction at a launch event in Stockholm last week was Gerard Depardieu, famed French actor and part time vintner, who introduced his organic wine in an informal discussion, describing the Chateau de Tigne, Cabernet D’Anjou Rosé as a “five o’clock wine.”

Head of food and beverages at SAS Alexander Lund said that due to the dulling of the pallet at 35,000 feet SAS had aimed to select a wine with added sweetness to give it sufficient flavour at altitude, something which he hoped Depardieu’s wine achieves with its distinctive citrus and red berry flavours. Lund added that he was very proud SAS are now one of “very few airlines in the world with a Rosé wine on board.”

The initial order has been for 6,000 bottles and 35,000 quarter bottles for short-haul flights with the option of further orders depending on demand. The wine will be served as part of the full drinks service in business and economy extra, and quarter bottles will be available to economy passengers travelling long-haul as part of their meal service or for a further 50 Swedish Kroner, about £5 each.

The wine also very much fits with SAS’s recent organic policy, with SAS’ head of PR Anders Lindström emphasising that the carrier’s environmental credentials are not just limited to its fleet, but also to the food and drink it sources, both in the air and on the ground in its lounges. Head of products and customer service Lena Rökaas added that the carrier was “really excited about how much consideration and thought is put into your meals on board.”

As well as the new wine the emphasis of the day was on food that is both sustainable and close-to-market, in this case sourced from across Scandinavia.

Manager of food and beverage concepts Claes Karlsson says that SAS would like to increase the amount of organic produce served on board and on the ground, but is very happy that they currently serve produce that is 40 per cent locally sourced and around 30 per cent organic.

Claes added that the UK is currently setting the example for locally sourced airline food, as shown by BA’s attempts to source much of its produce from within the UK, including an English sparkling Rosé wine available in First Class and in it airline lounges, as reported by Business Traveller here. Claes believes that increased organic produce is a distinct possibility as, “Organic supplies can now be guaranteed at greater volumes.”

Business Traveller was treated to samples of some of the products to be gradually introduced on board this year, including lightly smoked Wildcat Salmon from Norway, Venison sausage from Sweden on a piece of Spelt bread, and organic, free range foie gras, also from Sweden. All cheeses are from Norway and Sweden, and the tea, coffee, shortbread biscuits, chocolate and even gummy sweets (in a selection of traditional Scandinavian flavours such as Lingonberry and Sea Buckthorn) are organic.

The event concluded with an exhibition of ‘airmixology,’, with SAS intending to train its business class crew to mix a selection of cocktails in the air. All the cocktails were made using Pure Green Organic Vodka, a company which is self-proclaimed to be “born in Sweden, raised in France” as the Swedish firm produces the vodka from organic wheat in the Cognac region of France.

The cocktail list has been produced especially for business class and all present at the event were treated to a heady Pure Green version of the classic Negroni , along with a ‘Pure Green Apple,’ an apple-based vodka cocktail. The cocktail list will be available in business class only from September 1.

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Report by Scott Carey