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Airbus A321LR in SAS livery (image: SAS)

SAS goes long range with A321LR

The Scandinavian airline is expanding its fleet by leasing a set of long-range aircraft, to enter the fleet in the next 18 months.

SAS has signed a leasing agreement with ALC (Air Lease Corporation) allowing SAS to expand its fleet with three Airbus A321LR aircraft.

SAS says this gives it an opportunity to offer passengers more intercontinental routes, fewer stopovers and shorter travel times to and from Scandinavia. The first plane will enter into service in the first half of 2020.

The A321LR is a narrowbody configured to fly longer distances than a standard A321neo. The aircraft type has sufficient range to reach the north-eastern US, which SAS describes as one of its most important intercontinental markets.

The A321LR can also reach destinations in Canada, the Middle East and India from Scandinavia.

“This is an entirely new aircraft type for SAS that is incredibly well suited to the Scandinavian market and our travel patterns,” says Rickard Gustafson, president and chief executive of SAS.

“We are looking forward to launching new routes and to evaluating the A321LR in production.”

New routes?
SAS currently flies widebody aircraft that seat up to 266 passengers on its intercontinental routes. The A321LR is a smaller aircraft, giving the carrier the chance to deploy the planes on new routes.

SAS says that these could be new destinations in smaller markets from the three Scandinavian capitals, or existing destinations from smaller airports in Scandinavia.

It has already named some of the current and new destinations that may be flown to by the A321LR. In North America, these are New York, Boston, Washington DC, Montreal and Toronto. In the Middle East and Africa they could be Dubai, Addis Ababa, Entebbe or Sal in the Cape Verde Islands.

In addition, SAS has also mentioned Dubai with Islamabad and Lahore in Pakistan as well as New Delhi and Mumbai in India.

Environmental twist
The airline adds an environmental twist to the news by saying that the A321LR aircraft type is part of the latest generation of planes expected to reduce climate-impacting emissions by a similar amount as when SAS introduced the A320neo.

The carbon footprint of the latter is purported to be 15-18% smaller than an equivalent-sized aircraft of the previous generation.

“SAS aims to lead the way in driving the switch to sustainable travel,” Gustafson claims. “We have set a target of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 25% by 2030.”

SAS is now in the process of deciding on the new planes’ first routes and cabin configuration. The new routes “will gradually be communicated” from this spring.

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