SAS under growing pressure from local LCCs at Stockholm Arlanda

Image: SAS cutting the ribbon that officially inaugurated the Stockholm - Tromso route
Sabine G Lauterbach of LFV and Captain Anna Sundberg of SAS cutting the ribbon that officially inaugurated the Stockholm – Tromso route.

SAS Scandinavian Airlines may be unique in being the national airline of three different countries (Denmark, Norway and Sweden) but this also leads to problems when it comes to optimising its route network. Its three biggest bases are, not surprisingly, at the capital city airports of its three owners, but Sweden’s Stockholm Arlanda has only around two-thirds the number of flights and weekly seats as Oslo and Copenhagen although the total number of destinations served is similar.

Airport Weekly Departing Frequency Weekly Departing Seats Number of routes
Oslo (OSL) 1,092 148,794 55
Copenhagen (CPH) 1,165 144,616 60
Stockholm (ARN) 725 95,906 54
Bergen (BGO) 378 44,442 12
Stavanger (SVG) 258 32,477 10
Trondheim (TRD) 217 29,956 8
London Heathrow (LHR) 138 19,930 5
Source: OAG Max Online for June 2008

Of the 54 destinations served by SAS from Arlanda 13 are domestic destinations while a further five are to Norwegian destinations. Outside of Scandinavia the most popular country markets are Germany and the UK each with five destinations. Long-haul flights are currently limited to Beijing (six times weekly), Chicago and Newark (both daily).

Chart: SAS at Stockholm Arlanda
Source: Derived from OAG Max Online data for w/c 16 June 2008

SAS operates 15 monopoly routes from ARN including five domestic routes and two to Norway. The remaining routes are to Bristol, Chicago O’Hare, Dublin, Geneva, London City, Manchester, Milan Linate and Zagreb. These routes represent around one-sixth of all flights and one-fifth of all ASKs. On around 40% of flights the airline faces competition from two other carriers, usually the flag-carrier at the downroute airport plus one of the local LCCs.

On flights to Dűsseldorf the airline faces competition from Lufthansa, FlyNordic and Norwegian though FlyNordic is now owned by Norwegian.

Airline Frequency share Capacity share Number of route
SAS 38.6% 41.1% 54
Sterling 5.8% 7.7% 23
FlyNordic 4.5% 6.3% 15
Norwegian 3.9% 5.2% 15
Skyways 11.4% 4.3% 16
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 23 June 2008

Combining the market shares of Sterling, FlyNordic and Norwegian reveals that these three local LCCs operate around 14% of flights and have a 19% share of the airport’s scheduled seat capacity. The average aircraft size at Arlanda for SAS is 128 seats.

Recent route additions for SAS at Arlanda

In the last few months SAS has started a number of new routes from Arlanda including a thrice-weekly long-haul service to Bangkok which appears to only operate during the winter season. Thai Airways, a fellow Star Alliance partner operates the route year-round. Low frequency (less than daily) services have also been started to Barcelona (where SAS subsidiary Spanair operates 10 weekly flights), Stavanger and Zagreb.

Image: SAS celebrate the introduction of flights between Stockholm Arlanda and Zagreb
31 March, SAS introduced flights between Stockholm Arlanda and Zagreb.

A twice-weekly service to Milan Malpensa to complement the airline’s existing daily Milan Linate services was supposed to start on 16 April this year. However, no such service currently exists leaving the door open for easyJet to announce its first ever Swedish service between Milan Malpensa and Stockholm Arlanda earlier this week. Furthermore, Sterling has also just announced plans to connect the two airports starting this autumn with two weekly flights.

Earlier this week a new service to Tromso began operating. Initially the service will operate just for two months to see how much demand there is for services to Northern Norway. In December a new service to Kittila in northern Finland is planned which will also operate twice weekly. Flights will operate on Fridays and Mondays creating an ideal weekend break for ski enthusiasts.


  1. Why is LHR in the first table? Otherwise a great newsletter. replies: Although clearly not a base we included LHR in the list to show the relative size of SAS’s operations there compared to some of its secondary bases in Norway.

  2. Patrick Edmond says:

    Uhh…I guess LHR is in the first table because (like the five airports above it) it’s one of SAS’s 6 most-served airports?

    Otherwise a great comment. 🙂

  3. Very interesting article; its slightly misleading not to combine Flynordic and Norwegian operations, in the table, since its now days the same company.

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