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SAS considering Airbus A220, Embraer E195-E and a new subsidiary

The Scandinavian airline wants jets smaller than a Airbus A320 Neo and bigger than a CRJ. SAS could even set up its own subsidiary for the new planes.

SAS has only just received its first Airbus A350 and introduced a new paint job. But the Scandinavian airline is already thinking about a new aircraft order. In its statement concerning the results for the 2018/19 business year, which ended at the end of October, CEO Rickard Gustafson writes: “Approximately 20% of the destinations in SAS network are optimal to serve with an aircraft sized between an A320neo (180-seat) and a CRJ (90-seat).”

Such an aircraft would enable SAS to operate more productively and with greater flexibility, Gustafson continues. He also sees another reason for placing an order, as “ur older 120-150 seat aircraft serving this segment today need to be replaced in the next few years and currently there is no order in place to bridge the gap”. These include four Airbus A319s, eleven A320s, one Boeing 737-600 and 23 Boeing 737-700s.

Certain conditions for an order

He mentions certain conditions for an order. On the one hand, competitive collective agreements must be negotiated for the operation of a new aircraft model. On the other hand, SAS must ensure that the advantages of the standard fleet remain intact, says Gustafson. This sounds as if SAS favours Airbus for such an order.

The A220-100 (maximum 135 seats) and the A220-300 (160 seats) would be the most suitable aircraft from the European aircraft manufacturer. The A319 Neo, also with a maximum of 160 seats, also falls into this category, but has so far been particularly popular as a government and business aircraft and is not very popular with airlines. The A220 is not an original Airbus aircraft, but was originally developed by Bombardier as the C-Series.

Will there be a new subsidiary?

SAS CFO Torbjørn Wist mentioned the possibility of outsourcing the new aircraft to a separate subsidiary to the Norwegian news site E24. Neither he nor Gustafson wanted to give details. However, such an arrangement would make it easier to negotiate collective agreements in the interests of SAS. In addition, the new regional airline could buy from another aircraft manufacturer and the core brand SAS could still remain with a pure Airbus fleet.

At Airbus competitor Boeing, the smallest aircraft is the 737 Max 7, but with up to 172 seats it is probably still too big. Airplanes of other manufacturers are rather too small like the Russian Sukhoi Superjet, which does not have the best reputation. The only serious competitor for the A220 could be Embraer. The E195-E2 would meet the requirements with up to 146 seats, as would the E190-E2 with up to 114 seats.

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