CEO: this as “an offensive to create profitable growth”
In the face of tough low-cost competition, not least from Nordic rival Norwegian, SAS Group is no longer simply waiting and hoping that its pan-Nordic state-backed ownership and lobbying will be enough to hold LCCs back. As part of its strategic program 4Excellence it is aiming to take back some of the independent leisure travellers who tend to use no-frills carriers. SAS CEO Rickard Gustafson thinks that much of the growth in the airline industry will come from leisure travel “and this is naturally something SAS wants to share in”.
SAS is opening 38 routes in 2012. All, except one to Shanghai, are short and medium-haul routes, including 29 summer-only leisure routes that have amply compensated for the low seasonal demand in business travel. Gustafson describes this as “an offensive initiative that will create profitable growth that benefits both the customer and SAS”.
SAS has also brought back complimentary coffee and tea on all European and domestic routes and free newspapers at the gate, is gradually introducing free on board wifi, and is using bright colours in its low-fare marketing campaigns.
[pictured: SAS Airbus 330 landing at CPH; courtesy Copenhagen Airport]