Scandinavian Airlines is venturing into a new major U.S. market in a move that underscores major changes underway at the airline.
Starting this summer, SAS will begin flights between its Copenhagen Airport (CPH) hub in Denmark and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL).
The new 2024 route will kick off with daily flights between the two cities throughout the summer months.
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Once it begins its Atlanta service, SAS will fly to a total of nine North American airports, including eight in the U.S.
It’s also a move that, in many ways, signals the start of a new chapter for the carrier. With SAS embroiled in bankruptcy proceedings, Air France and KLM acquired a stake in the carrier last year. As it links up with its new minority owners, SAS plans to shift from the Star Alliance (which it once co-founded) to the SkyTeam alliance.
The alliance shift figures to see SAS deepen its partnerships not just with Air France and KLM but also with other SkyTeam carriers like Delta Air Lines.
In fact, in announcing the new route to Delta’s home base in Atlanta, SAS leadership noted an interline agreement that will allow SAS flyers to book itineraries with seamless connections to Delta flights.
New SAS route to Atlanta
The route between Copenhagen and Atlanta, home of the world’s busiest airport, will include daily nonstop flights between the two cities beginning June 17.
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Over the summer, SAS will operate daily frequencies between the two cities aboard an Airbus A330 aircraft, which seats a total of 266 passengers.
During the winter months, SAS will operate five weekly round trips on the route, including flights on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays aboard an Airbus A350, which seats 300 passengers.
Eastbound flights from Atlanta to Copenhagen will take off at (or just after) 7 p.m. EST and land around 10:20 a.m. local time the next day. Westbound flights will depart Copenhagen just after 1 p.m. and land around 5 p.m., all times local.
Changes on other routes
In addition to adding an Atlanta pin to its route map, SAS is increasing frequencies to a few other cities.
It will begin flying up to two daily round trips between CPH and New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK). SAS already flies to the New York area, with service between Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) and Stockholm Arlanda Airport (ARN), Oslo Airport (OSL) in Norway and CPH.
SAS also plans to shift from six weekly frequencies to daily service between CPH and Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) during the summer months.
In total, SAS currently serves eight U.S. airports and one in Canada. Here’s what the airline’s current U.S. route map looks like as of this month, according to scheduling data from aviation analytics firm Cirium.
SAS will continue to serve eight U.S. airports after adding ATL since the carrier plans to end its service to Miami International Airport (MIA) in early April.
Dipping its toes into SkyTeam territory
At present, the SAS U.S. route map (with some exceptions) skews heavily toward major hubs for its current Star Alliance partner, United Airlines.
However, the addition of the Atlanta service is a notable foray into Delta’s top hub city.
An interline agreement with Delta will allow passengers to book itineraries that include seamless connections between the two carriers — though it’s not a full-scale codeshare agreement like Delta has with its existing SkyTeam partners.
“Passengers can continue their journey on other Delta-served destinations out of Atlanta,” SAS president and CEO Anko van der Werff explained in a statement. “This development means an expanded offering for SAS passengers, who can look forward to reaching several new and exciting destinations across the Southern USA, Caribbean and Latin America.”
As for the timing of the airline’s move to SkyTeam, an SAS spokesperson tells TPG that details are still “under discussions” with both the Star Alliance and SkyTeam.