LAUNCH DATE: The roll out began in December 2019 and up to eight A350s will be commercially operated by end of 2020, with the last four joining the fleet in 2021 onwards.
SAS believes change is a powerful word and one not to sprinkle around carelessly. It should be used only when talking about a real difference, when we are actually doing something not just talking about it. Fixing something, improving something, changing something for the better. The launch of the first SAS Airbus A350-900s, the SAS team believes, is just such an occasion.
With this launch SAS now offers the most modern, comfortable long-haul aircraft there is, and has tailored its offering to the Scandinavian way of travel with unique features and refinements. At the same time, the airline has taken an important step in its journey to become a leading airline for sustainable travel by putting sustainability at the top of the agenda throughout the design process.
“The A350 is a milestone in the extensive renewal of the SAS fleet to feature the market’s most advanced and fuel-efficient aircraft. With this aircraft we reduce the fuel consumption compared with the aircraft it replaces, which means reduced carbon emissions by up 30%. The external noise footprint is reduced by 40% too. Along with the new livery, the A350 is a symbol of a more sustainable and competitive future for SAS. It’s a change of flight for the better,” says Rickard Gustafson, president & CEO, SAS.
The enhanced onboard experience is designed to reflect the capacity of the aircraft – with innovation, sustainability and Scandinavian entrepreneurship at its heart. There are updates to the exterior, interior and the food and beverage offer all designed to ensure customers experience the fleet modernisation for themselves, inside and out.
Nordic food concept
In conjunction with the A350-900 delivery, SAS launched new packaging for its award-winning New Nordic by SAS food concept. The new design of the cube will save up to 51 tons of plastics per year and represents one of many steps toward the SAS goal of having 100% sustainable materials in the customer offering by 2030 (at the latest). In recognition that some plastic is often required for food safety reasons, SAS suppliers came up with a solution that replaces the inside plastic container of the cube with a paper one. It is made of FSC-approved paper with a plastic coating made from organic plant-based plastic.
Another innovative collaboration full of potential is a partnership with Grönska – a Swedish tech company using vertical farming to produce greens in urban environments. Working towards positive change in the food production industry, the collaboration has resulted in a reduction of transport movements to SAS hubs, and the reopening of abandoned warehouses. The technology also allows cultivation of green vegetables and berries using 95% less water than traditional farming and 42% less energy per plant compared to greenhouse growing.
Together with SAS, Grönska has created salad mixes with ingredients grown sustainably, using zero pesticides and full of maximum flavour. As some flavours taste differently in the air than on ground, the mixtures of salad are especially grown to suit the in-air dining experience. Grönska’s technology enables flavours to be adapted by using different colours of lighting. This innovative way of growing food for onboard service is completely unique, and is something SAS and Grönska are proud to be the first to offer.
SAS also has an exciting partnership with Tjoget, the Stockholm cocktail bar ranked number 37 on the list of the world’s 50 best bars. The bar has produced a collection of ready-made cocktails and mocktails for SAS Business. As with the salads Grönska produce, the Tjoget drinks are not only made and pre-bottled especially for SAS – the flavours are also adjusted to suit the conditions in the air. All ingredients are organic and some of the cocktails include 10-15 ingredients, making them unique. This collaboration is a prime example of how SAS works with Scandinavian entrepreneurs to spur development and innovation.
A further collaboration in Business sees SAS working with Johan & Nyström, a coffee roaster based in Länna, outside of Stockholm. The coffee is hand-picked, organic and carefully crafted to be both sustainable and delicious. The origin of the coffee, the knowledge of the farmer and the full transparency of the production process from plant to cup mean SAS Business passengers are offered an organic and Fairtrade-certified, freshly-ground coffee.
Business passengers also receive new comfort kits launched in 2019 which include travel essentials sourced from sustainable Scandinavian suppliers such as Filippa K, Verso and The Humble Co.
Building on tradition
The new SAS A350-900 carries more than 70 years of tradition in Scandinavian design. In renewing one of Scandinavia’s most recognisable brands, the guiding principles were customer benefit, sustainability and innovation – three things that have always been key for SAS’ product development, but now more than ever.
The look and function of every feature was configured especially for the Scandinavian way of travelling. The new livery is a modern take on classic Scandinavian design, and to highlight the future of SAS, the market’s most modern and fuel-efficient aircraft A350 was the first to feature the new design. The exterior design complements the interior. Technology and design work together across the cabin with the moodlighting for example reflecting the colour tones of the Scandinavian sunrise and sunset.
Being Scandinavian is also about being welcoming so SAS and Airbus developed a new and stylish welcome area at the entrance door where travellers are greeted. During the flight, this area becomes a convenient self-service refreshment bar for Business travellers and improves the working conditions of the crew by providing a spacious preparation area. The welcome area is a strategic wellbeing element designed to foster movement and activity during a flight, making it a reason to walk around the cabing. SAS is the first airline to offer this feature onboard the A350-900 aircraft. Also new and supporting wellbeing through movement is a first-of-its-kind snack shop in the aft of the cabin, where Economy passengers can enjoy a variety of snacks. A final wellbeing hidden gem is a power bar, integrated in the interior design at the aft of the cabin, which allows passengers to have a subtle work out, with pull-ups for a heftier activity session.
In SAS Business, the 40 seats feature a 18.5” inflight entertainment screen with higher resolution, PC-power and high-power USB, better articulation of the seat, separate controls for backrest recline, a new bi-fold tray table including a personal device holder and more durable seat padding. The business class beds measure a minimum of 196cm, with some even longer, and SAS has installed a durable threshold that also can give a light foot massage.
In SAS Plus there are 32 seats of a brand-new type to SAS. They include a leg rest with a foot support feature, 13.3” high-resolution IFE screens, PC-power and high-power USB and a cabin divider distinctly separating the cabin from the rest of the plane.
SAS Go has 228 seats with 11.6” IFE screens with high resolution, high-power USB, a bi-fold meal table and a water bottle holder. The plane also features a “cross-aisle” passageway midway through SAS Go, for the benefit of passengers and crew.
The A350 also features a new work environment for crew. In addition to eight spacious beds for cabin crew and pilots, galleys have been redesigned to provide better, larger work surfaces for cabin crew. A350 cabin crew also have iPads to help with personalisation of service and make it easier for crew to automatically report faults to maintenance, and more.
The developments have all been inspired by customer feedback. Insight studies focused on four key areas: welcome & wellbeing; digital life; nesting, and in-cabin destinations, and all provided ideas for the engineers and product specialists to address. Combining these issues with the environmental priorities helped ensure sustainability is a fully-imbedded concept touching all parts of the customer experience from aircraft technology to onboard materials and supplier screening.
The airline expects the new onboard experience will increase its customer satisfaction index (CSI) significantly in 2020.
The team is particularly proud of the way sustainability has been positioned at the heart of the project and believes the concept is of a world class standard as well as being industry-leading in this eco regard. It intends for SAS to be a leading airline for sustainability development and recognises the industry must do its utmost to be more sustainable.