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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

SAS Signs $3.3 Billion MOU for Airbus A350s, A330s

By Woodrow Bellamy III

Scandinavian carrier SAS signed an agreement with Airbus worth $3.3 billion for eight new A350-900 XWBs, and four A330-300s in an effort to modernize its fleet of passenger jets. 
(SAS A350-900. Photo, courtesy of Airbus.)
SAS, jointly owned by Denmark, Norway and Sweden, has options to purchase an additional six A350-900s as part of the new agreement. The airline will also be upgrading the passenger cabins on seven of its current Airbus A330s/A340s as part of the deal. 
"It will truly increase our competitiveness and strengthen our customer offering - both with regard to comfort, service and efficiency. Furthermore, we are able to significantly bring down fuel consumption which will lower our costs and support our goals to reduce emissions," Rickard Gustafson, SAS Group president and CEO said of the new agreement. 
The purchase comes six months after a major restructuring effort by SAS, which featured the elimination of 6,000 employees and the sale of its regional subsidiary carrier in exchange for an increased credit line to $525 million from major shareholders and banks. With the new aircraft, Gustafson said SAS will be able to launch a more competitive long-haul plan after facing increased competition recently from the growth of European low-cost and regional carriers.
The airline will be receiving the enhanced variant of the A330, with an increased maximum takeoff weight capability to 242 metric tons and the addition of 500 extra nautical miles of range. Airbus first announced these improvements to the A330 in July 2012, the upgraded variant is scheduled to enter into service in 2015. SAS will begin taking delivery of its A330s in 2015 as well. 

Additionally, Airbus will begin delivery of the A350s to SAS in 2018.  

Related: Aviation Today's Checklist

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