For the first time in its nearly 70-year-long history, Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) has been passed over as the largest airline in Scandinavia. Arch rival Norwegian Air actually flew more passengers in July than SAS did, at the height of the summer tourist season.
Numbers released late last week show that 2,690,458 passengers flew on Norwegian in July, the highest number for a single month ever. SAS reported carrying 2,592,000, somewhat lower than July of last year, but the traffic nonetheless resulted in SAS’ highest load factor ever, with 86.9 percent of its seats filled.
“This is the first month in which Norwegian had more traffic than SAS, and it’s no coincidence that it occurred in July,” airline analyst Jacob Pedersen of Sydbank told Danish news bureau Ritzau. He said it reflects how Norwegian, as a low-fare carrier, has its high season in the summer holiday period, while SAS still caters to more of a business market where traffic is lower in the summer.
Norwegian may take over SAS’ spot at the top of the traffic heap, given all its new long-haul flights and ongoing expansion. SAS, however, was hailed for doing relatively well. SAS’ numbers, Pedersen said, “were much better than I had expected.” Competition remains intense “and I had expected a reduction” in passenger counts at SAS, along with a lower load factor, he said. “SAS is doing considerably better than I would have thought.”