Scandinavian Airlines Suspends Operations Due To “Non-Existent” Demand

Filed Under: SAS

You can add another airline to the list of those that are more or less suspending operations.

Scandinavian Airlines has today announced that they are putting “most” of their operations on hold as of Monday, March 16, 2020, for an indefinite period of times. Here’s the announcement on SAS’ website:

Due to the coronavirus and the measures implemented by national authorities, the demand for air travel is essentially non-existent. SAS has therefore decided to put most of its operations on hold, starting Monday March 16 and until necessary prerequisites for commercial air traffic returns.

To support our customers, we will in the next few days do our utmost to uphold a certain level of operation to enable travelers to return from their destinations.

Information regarding the traffic situation and specific flights will be constantly updated on our website. Affected passengers will be notified.

The waiting time at our call centers is extraordinary long. We kindly ask that you only call us if your flight departs within the next 3 days.

While we’ve seen plenty of airlines cut capacity, SAS has taken a different approach than other airlines. They’re acknowledging demand is virtually non-existent, and are basically saying they’re shutting down until there’s demand again, rather than giving a period of only a week or two, when surely that would be pushed back.

It sounds like we can still expect a few flights in the next few days, but that’s about it. Interestingly I still see inventory loaded for most flights, so it looks like the airline hasn’t fully started the process of canceling flights and pulling inventory.

This comes as Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, are all closing their borders this coming week to most foreign visitors.

  1. Unfortunately Sweden has no plans to close their borders at this time as they continue to lag behind in their response to Covid-19.

    Just to fill in a few of the key details from their press conference: approximately 90% reduction in staff, flight operations that equate to “critical infrastructure”/key destinations will still be in operation after Monday (London, Frankfurt given as examples, but no mentions of frequency).

  2. The announcement is somewhat misleading, as it is only the international (including intra-Scandinavian) operation that is more or less shut down. At the press conference, the CEO said that there is still demand for domestic flights in Norway and Sweden, and these important markets for SAS will still be served. As for international destinations, London and Frankfurt were mentioned as destinations where SAS still might fly.

  3. Hey Lucky.
    Just landed in Goteborg, Sweden and saw this.
    Supposed to fly back from Stockholm to Germany on SAS on the 17th…

    No cancellation notice so far….

  4. Im Swedish and heard what SAS CEO said. Domestic airtravel is big in Scandinavia and will keep on. Also flights to USA, London and Frankfurt.

    So this articels is missleading. Sorry Lucky! SAS CEO schould have hold the press meeting in English.

  5. @jackie – ignorant b—h People’s livelihoods. Let’s hope your not suffering from depression as a result of this situation, wondering how you will afford to pay rent.

  6. What is misleading in the article? ”Most” of the operations will be suspended, which is true.

  7. And South Africa has just announced a ban on all foreign nationals from certain countries including France, Germany, Italy, Spain the U.K. & US. I worry for airlines like VS whose network has effectively being wiped out apart from a few Caribbean destinations, Hong Kong and possibly it’s Delhi service.

  8. @Manny: As both criced and I (both native speakers of a Scandinavian langauge) have written, the CEO clearly stated that the important domestic traffic in Norway and Sweden will be retained. Thus the presumption in Lucky’s OP: “It sounds like we can still expect a few flights in the next few days, but that’s about it. ” is misleading. There will be a few international flights, but still a rather extensive domestic service in Norway and Sweden.

  9. Wondering why no airline manager has tried to spin this positively as ‘we have listened to the environmental concerns of many of our customers and therefore have reduced flying’ or something like this.

  10. In related news, the Lufthansa USA call center is simply not answering calls. No pickup and hold, just endless ringing.

  11. @ Reaper Like all airlines , they are inundated
    I’ve seen people blaming the employees. Terrible. It’s not their fault

  12. Closing borders in Scandinavian countries? That’s racist!!! Isn’t that the way this works? Or is that only when the US administration does it – Orange Man Bad and all of that.

  13. @Oskar – No, we are not lagging. We just are letting the scientists determine the best way forward rather than the politicians.

    Not sure if this is the right way or the wrong way, only time will tell.

  14. Denmark is handling this remarkably well. In just a few short days, they’ve gone from ‘exercise caution’ to shutting down almost everything *and* doing a deal between industry organizations, unions and the government to save jobs and the economy.

    Meanwhile, Sweden across the water from their capital is a ticking health bomb. Their main response has been to insinuate Denmark is racist for restricting travel.

  15. @Icarus, not blaming anyone, just noting a fact.
    I’d happily cancel my reservation online, but the LH website is so unclear on whether I’d get my money back, I’ll keep holding out for a phone conversation.

  16. Why is that these days everyone that does not close borders is considered to be stupid? The same people that want borders to be closed asap probably want Germany and France to release export restrictions of technical material to fight Covid 19! Health authorities are there for a reason. These days we need International coordination more than ever. This is a cross border virus! Countries need to coordinate and Sweden or any other country is right in coordinating its policies with others. Tomorrow we will very likely see several countries announcing measures after a meeting of EU interior ministers. But having individual countries taking random policies serves nobody especially the citizens of those countries. It is already enough to have Trump lobbying a German company to have exclusive access to a vaccine! People need to remain calm and pondered, not selfish.

  17. Reaper
    LH seem to be doing everything possible not to give your money back. They still insist that I can go to Italy on 4 April. They have changed a 2 sector journey each way into a 3 sector journey including a 5 hour layover just to get me there and back. Can’t rebook on-line and can’t get through on the phone. If I cancel or no-show I lose the money!

  18. I wonder if the 3 governments in Scandinavia would help fund SAS to keep them afloat? Or would they be sold off to a larger group like Lufthansa or AF-KLM?

  19. @Peter, that’s the situation I fear for my flights on April 9. LH no longer flies to SFO, but they’ll want to route me on United via Chicago or some other nightmare. My last leg is to Riyadh though, which is 100% shut down through at least March 27, so if that’s extended they’ll have no choice but refund.

  20. As others have mentioned, Sweden has not closed its borders and the ones in charge claim that they don’t plan on doing so. The Swedish government does however advice agains all non-essential foreign travel. That said, Sweden’s response to covid-19 is and has been catastrophic. Truly catastrophic. It’s too late now but hopefully someone will learn something from this until the next pandemic.

    Anyway, SAS shut down their award bookings on Friday – both online and via phone – without notice. As someone who holds millions of ”Eurobonus points”, I certainly hope (and believe) that this suspension of operations won’t continue too long. I’ve cancelled my flights until June 24th and I hope (but don’t really expect) that I will be able to fly to the US by then. If not, I fear that I will have bigger things to worry about…

  21. I had a flight from Copenhagen to Birmingham but since Denmark has closed its borders can no longer access this flight (I lived in Lund but studies have finished so going back to the uk). I have since booked on Stockholm to Manchester flight. Now this has been cancelled. There are KLM etc flights to Uk but wary as they aren’t direct , other countries may impose bans etc and I’ll be stranded in an unfamiliar airport not being able to go back to Sweden or on to the Uk.

  22. @Icarus

    Who gives a damn about people’s livelihoods? This is bigger than that at the moment. I’m sick of people that keep saying that as some sort of way to generate sympathy. One thing at a time and right now that one thing is covid.

  23. @Reaper and @Peter, why are you tying up their phone lines when your flights are WEEKS away? A lot has happened in the last few days, and there are people whose flights are departing today, tomorrow, or later this week. You can afford to wait to call; they can’t. People like @Dennis are the ones who need immediate help.

    Lufthansa’s website (and other airlines have similar language): “If you need to contact us, please only do so if your flight date is within the next 3 days. We ask you for your understanding during this dynamic and challenging situation.”

  24. The current airline industry is in a bad situation. It is run by people without passion for creating great products and services. The industry can use a reboot. 20/30 years ago, we had JetBlue and Southwest. Upstarts that wanted to do something different and now even these company feels old and boring. They are consumed by their financial bottom line instead of innovation. It is unfortunate that many people will lose their jobs. I am hoping in the long run, by letting the old go, newer airlines will make the industry exciting again.

  25. @Max
    …Because if any airline CEO used your suggestion as a (a very transparent) pretext for reduced operations then they would have ZERO credibility within the industry and especially, with the ‘eco warriors’ once this all goes away and normal airline operations resume.

    (But we may never see ‘normal’ airline operations again….)

  26. @August Didn’t see that outrage when a KLM flight attendant specifically banned Korean Passengers from using “her” restroom. Something tells me you only are able to perceive racism against White people.

  27. I’m in Montevideo trying to get back to the USA. We had flights (paid J) from Cordoba to MIA but Argentina has gone weird so switched to MVD to MIA.

    I’ve been on the phone with AA 5 times over the past few days and they have been great. I’m life Plat so use that number. The call back system works, had to wait a couple hours but got thru. Mostly they just pick up. Every time I call I get a sympathetic, capable person.

    We are on tonight’s MVD to MIA, already 5 hours delayed. The equipment is in the air so I think it will go. We have a MIA to BOS in F and a one way car rental waiting. If the TSA is as f-$#ed as I suspect, we will drive home.

    They have closed the restaurants, bars, and cancelled everything here in Uruguay. Can’t stay so we are off into the abyss. One can only hope for a reasonable border experience but that may be a wish too far.

  28. SAS isn’t shutdown. They are cutting back most all their operations, but they are going to still operate a bit of service.

    About the claim above that Sweden claimed that this Danish border shutdown in 2020 is racist, that’s just fake news worthy of a US President who behaves as if his mind has taken a beating from syphilis.

  29. @Lukas – you do know that your millions of Eurobonus points will, in all likelihood, be worthless iwithin 60 days. We cancelled our award flights to Chicago last night and our waiting for our points to be reimbursed. As someone who lost ‘a bunch’ of SwissAir points in their 2002 bankruptcy, my advice is to use them on ‘hard goods’. Certain online stores use them as currency (you Google).

  30. Checking the list of cancelled SAS flights at my local airport (KSU) and the one in a neighbouring town, it appears that SAS are cancelling one in two flights: instead of four daily 737-rotations to OSL on weekdays, two remain. (KSU and MOL are the two smallest destinations from OSL in southern Norway. )

    So SAS are still running a sizable domestic operation in Norway,

  31. Lukas, you wrote (March 15) that ‘Sweden’s response to covid-19 is and has been catastrophic’. Why so? Please check the statistics for number of deaths per 1 million inhabitants, and the number of cases for the same. The figures for Sweden are similar to those of Denmark, and significantly better than for all other West European countries, except for Finland. Of course we do not yet know what will happen, but your claim is unfounded.
    As others have said in this forum, the Swedish strategy is defined by professionals with a scientific background, not by politicians. The key person at the institute in charge has a PhD from around 2003 on the topic of pandemias, and has worked in the field since. The strategy takes a balanced approach where several different societal considerations are weighed in.

  32. @Erik Sandevall:
    Current figures, as reported in the Norwegian press, state that Sweden has 2,8 deaths per 100.000 inhabitants, Denmark has 2,1. It is true that Finland is particularly low (0,3), but I am rather surprised that you ignore the country most similar to Sweden, and where the differences in approach are most obvious, i.e. Norway which has a death rate of 0,9 per 100.000, clearly lower than both Denmark and especially Sweden.

    As for Sweden being “significantly better than for all other West European countries”, this is not correct. Today’s figures show that Portugal (2,1), Ireland (2,0), Austria (1,8), Germany(!) (1,3),
    and Iceland (1,2) are all lower than Sweden’s 2,8.

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