The outgoing chief executive of Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on Wednesday that it was “a bit embarrassing” that SAS has no non-stop flight from Norway to the US. It may come back, nine years after being dropped.
Back in the 1990s, SAS ran full flights on its SK 907 and SK 908 routes between Oslo and New York (Newark). The airline’s ailing finances and the terrorist attack in New York in 2001 ultimately prompted SAS to shut them down, meaning all US-bound SAS passengers in Norway have either had to fly via Copenhagen or Stockholm.
On Wednesday, just after reporting more losses but lower than expected, SAS boss Mats Jansson admitted it was embarrassing that SAS has no intercontinental direct flights from Oslo to New York. Continental Airlines picked up SAS’ slots into Newark and now is part of the frequent flyer program Star Alliance where SAS also is a member. US Airways has also launched seasonal non-stop service to the US, with flights to its Philadelphia hub, and other airlines are considering Norway-US routes as well.
NRK reported that SAS may reinstate its own Oslo-New York service early next year, although Jansson wouldn’t reveal its winter program.
In the meantime the airline continues to grapple with financial challenges but blamed most of its SEK 502 million in second quarter losses on flight disruptions caused by the volcano in Iceland. If that hadn’t closed airports and grounded flights for days on end, the company likely would have posted a profit, claimed management.
Investors reacted well to SAS’ quarterly report (external link), sending the stock price up. SAS’ passenger counts were down throughout the first half, however, by 4.6 percent to 12 million. The company has been undergoing severe cost-cutting programs for years.