Scandinavian airline SAS increases flights to United States after end of travel ban

Scandinavian airline SAS announced on Wednesday it is to increase services to the United States, in a direct response to the end of the US travel ban on foreign tourists.

A SAS aircraft at Copenhagen Airport. The airline is to ramp up services to the United States in late 2021 after the end of the US Covid-19 travel ban.
A SAS aircraft at Copenhagen Airport. The airline is to ramp up services to the United States in late 2021 after the end of the US Covid-19 travel ban. Photo: Mathias Løvgreen Bojesen/Ritzau Scanpix

The United States ended its Covid travel ban on all passengers on November 8th, provided arrivals are fully vaccinated and undergo testing and contact tracing.

Effectively, the change means vaccinated travellers from Europe can now again visit the US.

US nationals living in Europe and their close family members had been able to travel home across the Atlantic despite the ban but the strict rules had made this impractical or impossible for many.

SAS will offer up to 100 flights per week between the US and Scandinavia during the Christmas and New Year period following the end of the ban, the airline said in a press statement on Wednesday.

“As a direct result of the US now opening to more visitors, demand for travel is rising sharply. SAS is now updating its traffic program and increasing the number of flights to and from the US,” the airline stated.

SAS operates flights to a number of major United States cities from Copenhagen, Stockholm and Oslo.

The airline resumed its Stockholm-Miami route on November 8th and will also resume flights to the Florida city from Copenhagen on November 10th, and from Oslo on November 11th.

This means that SAS will have daily flights to Miami from Scandinavia during the winter.

Services to New York will also increase with departures twice daily from Copenhagen, Oslo, and Stockholm, starting November.

Flights from Stockholm to Chicago begin from mid-December, with daily departures already operating to the city from Copenhagen. SAS will also increase the number of flights to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington DC from Copenhagen over Christmas and New Year.

“It is very gratifying that we can increase the number of flights and offer our customers the chance to finally be able to travel again and experience the other side of the Atlantic, and meet with friends and family,” CCO Karl Sandlund said in the statement.

In October, Anko Van der Werff, who took over as CEO with SAS in July, said the airline faced a “fight” to “have a future” amid problems including a permanent drop in business travel and costly collective labour agreements.

READ ALSO: SAS ‘fighting for survival’ as Nordic airline’s shares plunge

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Busiest weekend of the summer expected at Norwegian airports 

The busiest days of the year for Norwegian airports are expected on Friday and Sunday, with plenty of traffic and passengers also anticipated on the roads, trains and ferries. 

Busiest weekend of the summer expected at Norwegian airports 

Just under 100,000 passengers will pass through Oslo Airport on both Friday and Sunday, with lots of passengers expected to pass through Bergen, Trondheim and Stavanger as well, newspaper VG reports. 

Despite a busy weekend expected and an ongoing air technician strike, Avinor, which operates the country’s airports, has said it is well prepared to deal with a large volume of passengers. 

“We are well prepared. We are an organisation with 2,800 staff at 43 airports that are trained to handle large numbers of passengers, so we look forward to doing a good job for all travellers and all airlines,” Joachim W. Andersen, communications manager for Avinor, told newspaper VG

Communications manager Andersen said that travellers should follow the information and advice they receive from airlines. 

“Fortunately, the Norwegian airlines are good at communicating with the passengers, and very often they (customers) are informed well in advance before they travel to the airport that the flight has been cancelled,” Andersen said. 

“You should show up when it is recommended by your airline,” he added. 

Mediation talks between the Norwegian Aircraft Technician Organisation (NFO) and employer organisation NHO Luftfart resumed on Friday morning in the hopes of finding a solution to the current air technician strike. A lockout has been announced by NHO Luftfart which will commence on Sunday if an agreement isn’t reached

READ ALSO: Why flight problems could continue in Norway after the aircraft technician strike ends

Busy travel weekend expected across the country

For those heading on their holidays domestically, plenty of traffic is expected on Norwegian roads and at ferry ports. 

The north especially is expected to see a lot of ferry traffic, particularly around Lofoten, Senja and the North Cape. 

In the south, people are encouraged to avoid the roads on Friday afternoon and instead drive on Saturday. 

Trains on the Bergen Line and busses to Gothenburg, Stockholm and Copenhagen also have a lot of bookings over the weekend. 

Åge-Christoffer Lundeby, communications manager at VY, has asked travellers to pack smart. 

“People should pack in two bags and not bring seventeen carrier bags,” he said.