In October, Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) revealed plans to leave the Star Alliance. The departure would see SAS join the SkyTeam Alliance thanks to a proposed partial takeover by the Air France-KLM Group. With such a move, many wondered how it would affect SAS' existing relationships with Star Alliance carriers and their hubs. A new route announcement by SAS may provide further suggestions about the airline's future plans.
SAS to Atlanta
Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL) is the world's busiest airport by passenger traffic. The airport has maintained this title for over two decades. Scandinavian Airlines will launch service from Copenhagen, Denmark (CPH) to Atlanta on June 17th. This service will initially operate daily with the Airbus A330-300.
However, the route will decrease to a five-weekly frequency in winter and be upgraded to the Airbus A350-900. For now, this new service will be the only existing route between Atlanta and the Nordic region.
Atlanta will be the airline's ninth destination in the United States, following the current list:
- Boston (BOS)
- Chicago O'Hare (ORD)
- San Francisco (SFO)
- Los Angeles (LAX)
- Miami (MIA)
- New York (JFK)
- Newark (EWR)
- Washington Dulles (IAD)
Thanks to United Airlines having a huge presence in Chicago, San Francisco, Newark, and Washington Dulles are major Star Alliance hubs. Because SAS intends to leave the alliance, the fate of these routes remains to be seen. For now, SAS plans to have the new Atlanta route as a new addition to its existing U.S. network rather than a replacement.
The new service will operate initially with the following schedule. It can be inferred that when the service decreases to five-weekly in the winter, it will continue with these timings.
|10:20 a.m. (+1)
*Local times at departure and arrival cities
**Reduces to 5x weekly in winter with A350-900
New Delta Partnership
SAS' new route to Atlanta comes amid a new partnership agreement with Delta Air Lines. SAS has already begun including Delta flights on its itineraries. With the new service and even now from existing cities, customers can fly SAS and then connect to Delta flights elsewhere, and vice versa. Customers will have even more options from Atlanta because it is Delta's largest hub.
SAS has also revealed plans for more daily flights to JFK and additional frequencies to Boston, both significant Delta hubs. No frequency reductions for Star Alliance hubs have been announced yet. Air France-KLM Group will purchase up to 20% of SAS' shares, influencing the carrier's transition into SkyTeam.
No exact timeframe has been given for when SAS will officially leave Star Alliance for its new alliance. However, the moves that SAS has been making indicate that the airline is making significant progress toward this transition. Once SAS grows even closer and probably after officially joining SkyTeam, more U.S. cities could be added to the airline's network with seasonal and year-round service.
These destinations would include SkyTeam hubs such as Detroit (DTW), Minneapolis (MSP), Salt Lake City (SLC), and even a resumption of the Seattle (SEA) route that SAS formerly served. The airline has yet to reveal its plans for additional U.S. destinations.
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