Following last autumn's decision to expand, SAS has started 13 new routes this year and an additional four new routes will be introduced this coming autumn. SAS will also launch its second long haul route next March with Shanghai-Copenhagen. At the same time, the customer satisfaction has reached its highest level in 11 years and in June, SAS passenger load factor was at a record high.
“Not only have we managed to cut our cost rather dramatically—but to do so, while simultaneously increase both load factor and customer satisfaction, while keeping our positions as one of the world’s most punctual airlines, is quite a feat,” says Lars Olofsson, General Manager Greater China, Scandinavian Airlines. “This lifts the spirit of the whole company and I think our passengers can feel it, as soon as they enter one of our aircrafts. Success is, of course, good for our passengers. In the not too distant future, they will also be able to enjoy a new fleet of aircrafts.”
Last month, SAS ordered 30 new Airbus A320neo aircraft, the market's most environmental and fuel-efficient aircraft. SAS has also an option on an additional 11 A320neo. This complements this spring's decision to sign a leasing agreement of 17 Boeing 737 Next Generation, which in some years will result in a harmonized aircraft fleet that will make SAS even more competitive.
SAS punctuality has continued to be of world class during the first six months of this year and during June, SAS was again Europe's most punctual airline. The passenger load factor was also at a record high in June at 80.6%. During the first half of 2011, the SAS Group increased the capacity by 10%, above all on Intra-Scandinavian routes, as well as European routes where SAS introduced a number of new leisure routes in addition to more frequencies on business destinations.
Within the same timeframe, the number of passengers has increased by more than 12%. SAS has also increased its market shares in important markets such as the European traffic to/from Denmark and in Norwegian domestic. In addition, the new route Oslo-New York has clearly exceeded expectations.
On 2nd March next year Shanghai-Copenhagen will be launched, which will be SAS' second new intercontinental route within less than one year. SAS is also working intensely on extending the collaboration with international partners, for example a deeper collaboration with Singapore Airlines has been communicated.
Following the positive feedback, SAS will throughout the summer and autumn 2011 take new initiatives to invest in product improvements, new frequencies and routes. The successful cost reductions and increased flexibility in the production has allowed SAS to open new routes from Stockholm to Venice and Bologna. During the summer, SAS has started new seasonal routes to Madrid from Oslo and Bergen. In addition, SAS even flies to Moscow, Split and Palma Mallorca from Oslo.
The demand on the leisure routes to South Europe is better than expected and the number of bookings is 15% above the corresponding level last year, which demonstrates that SAS has improved its competitiveness within the leisure segment. This autumn, SAS will continue to expand and open the route Stockholm-Gdansk, Oslo-Palanga and Copenhagen Palma Mallorca. In addition, SAS will increase frequencies on Stockholm-Milano, Copenhagen-Poznan and Copenhagen-Wroclaw.
“Following a long term quality improvement program that was initiated already in 2006, we are starting to see clear results. Not only that we were Europe's most punctual airline in 2009 and 2010, we now also have the highest customer satisfaction in eleven years. This has occurred simultaneously with a reduction in the costs by a quarter, excluding jet fuel. This has provided for our growth this year and in combination with our large cost reductions, we have improved our competitiveness. After the success of both our business and leisure destinations, we look forward to continuing with our focus on improving our offering with the best, smoothest and most cost effective travelling for our customers”, says Rickard Gustafson, CEO and President SAS.