Copyright Photo: SAS (Scandinavian Airlines) Boeing 737-86N WL LN-RGI (msn 35646) (Celebrating 70 Years) PMI (Javier Rodriguez). Image: 934675.
History (from SAS):
Scandinavian Airlines’ reputation as an industry pioneer is well deserved. But, not too surprisingly this hasn’t always sat very well with competitors or even foreign governments. Over the year, SAS has started “wars”, had passengers removed by police and introduced the world’s most awarded frequent yer program.
Some highlights from the history of SAS:
SAS’ rst nancial statement, which covered August 1, 1946, to December 31, 1947, showed sales of $7.4 million and a gross operating pro t of $1.6 million. The result was quite remarkable for the rst nancial year of a new enterprise, and received much favorable media coverage both in Scandinavia and abroad.
By the end of 1947, Scandinavian Airlines had carried more than 18,000 passengers over the Atlantic. This gure was far beyond the 3675 passengers SAS had forecasted for the time. The airline had not predicted to reach 10,000 passengers until 1952, and carry 16,200 passengers by 1955.
In 1954, SAS started the so-called ‘”sandwich war” on the North Atlantic routes with Danish smørrebrød. As tourist class had been introduced, economy passengers had to pay for their meals onboard. So many of the lunchboxes SAS offered passengers to buy remained unsold that SAS decided to serve smørrebrød, giant, open-faced sandwiches, instead, free of charge. In the US, this was considered to be a meal and not to be included in the fare. The nal drop for the US competitors was when SAS put out an ad displaying its luxurious sandwiches next to meager cellophane-wrapped varieties offered by the American carriers. In response, the Americans threatened to withdraw SAS’ traf c rights.
The media coverage, however, was so extensive, SAS paid a $16,000 ne without complaint. It was also established that if SAS was to continue serving the sandwiches, which they did, one corner of the sandwich had to be clearly visible and not covered by any spread. The “sandwich war” also introduced open-faced sandwiches to the rest of the world, as prior to this event, they had only been found in Scandinavia.
On February 24, 1957, an SAS ight, ‘Guttorm Viking’, departed Copenhagen for Tokyo, via Anchorage. At the same time, another SAS aircraft, ‘Reidar Viking’, took off from Tokyo, and the two aircraft met over the North Pole at 9.10pm. With the new route, ying time between Scandinavia and Tokyo had been reduced from 52 hours to 32 hours. By linking the Tokyo via Bangkok and Tokyo via Anchorage routes, SAS established the world’s rst commercial around-the-world route. The DC-7s servicing the route had “First over the Pole and around the World” marked on the aircraft.
Passengers onboard the rst Scandinavian Airlines ight from Copenhagen to Tokyo via Anchorage in 1957 were impressed that one particular ight attendant remained impressively fresh and alert all the way from Copenhagen to Tokyo. What SAS didn’t publicize at the time was that it had employed two identical twin sisters, and replaced one sister with the other during the intermediate landing in Alaska!
In 1958, Birgitta Lindman, a 23-year-old Swedish stewardess, landed the cover of LIFE magazine’s jet special issue about airlines. She beat hostesses from 53 other airlines to make the coveted cover.
In May 1969, 31-year-old Norwegian Turi Widerøe became the rst female pilot for a Western airline. She was the daughter of aviation pioneer Viggo Widerøe and had previously own seaplanes for Widerøe Airlines (which SAS acquired in 1997). Turi became a celebrity in the US, and in 1971 she was presen- ted with the prestigious Harman International Aviation Trophy at the White House, along with the Apollo 11 astronauts who had landed on the moon. A year later, some 200 million people saw the documentary What Makes Turi Fly?
The rst female SAS captain, Swedish Lena Lindeberg, was appointed in 1995. And on April 20, 1998, the rst SAS ight with an all-female crew departed Stockholm for Dublin.
In 1977, SAS added the unique ‘Exercise in the Chair’ program to its in- ight entertainment. The worldwide response and media attention to the airborne physical tness program was far greater than SAS could possibly have expected, and created new waves of goodwill for SAS worldwide.
In the early 1980s, under the helm of new president Jan Carlzon (who was head of SAS for a record 12 years), the airline embarked on a new mission: to become the businessman’s airline. SAS was to become more customer-orientated, or as Carlzon himself put it, the best airline in the world for the frequent business traveler.
First Class was dropped on all European routes, and instead, SAS introduced EuroClass on all European routes in 1981, which gave the airline an edge over its European competitors. By paying full-fare economy prices, EuroClass passengers received separate counters and lounge access, more legroom, free drinks and upgraded meals. The “legality” of SAS EuroClass was, however, questioned by SAS’ competitors and reached its height when police boarded an SAS plane in Madrid and started to remove passengers who they had decided were getting too much for too little money. The action rewarded SAS with priceless media coverage all over the world.
Air France, in particular, objected to SAS’ new class and it even looked as if all air connections between France and Scandinavia would be shut down as the two airlines fought it out. In the end, the French and Scandinavian foreign ministers came to a resolution which favored SAS’ new class.
In 1983, SAS introduced special seminars, dubbed “charm schools” for the 11,000 employees, with the aim to improve customer service.
EuroBonus, the SAS frequent yer program launched in 1992, has become the world’s most awarded. In 1997, when the prestigious Freddy Award was launched, EuroBonus took home the coveted ‘Program of the Year’ award, and continued to win it for six consecutive years. To date, EuroBonus remains the most awarded frequent yer program in the industry.
Milestones (from SAS):
1918 Det Danske Luftfartselskab A/S (DDL), SAS’ Danish parent company, is founded
1920 DDL is listed on the Copenhagen Stock Market
1924 AB Aerotransport (ABA), SAS’ Swedish parent company, is founded
1927 Det Norske Luftfartselskap A/S (DNL), SAS’ Norwegian parent company is founded
1946 SAS is formed from Det Danske Luftfartselskab A/S (DDL), Det Norske Luftfartselskap A/S (DNL) and Svensk Interkontinetal Lufttrafik AB (SILA). The first intercontinental flight Stockholm – New York.
1951 DDL, DNL and ABA form the present SAS Consortium.
1954 SAS is the world’s first airline to fly the Copenhagen – Los Angeles polar route in scheduled services.
1955 SILA (which owned 50% of ABA) was quoted on the “Stockbrokers’ List” in Sweden.
1957 SAS is the first airline to offer “round the world service over the North Pole.” North Pole Shortcut Copenhagen – Anchorage – Tokyo.
1959 SAS enters the jet age. The first jet aircraft, Caravelle, in service.
1960 SAS opens its first hotel, the SAS Royal Hotel Copenhagen.
1965 SAS is first to introduce and electronic reservation system.
1967 DNL is listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange.
1971 SAS puts its first Boeing 747 jumbo jet into service.
1980 SAS opens its first hotel outside of Scandinavia, the SAS Kuwait Hotel. SILA is listed on the Stockholm Stock Exchange.
1981 SAS EuroClass is introduced on all European routes.
1982 SAS is the most punctual airline in Europe for the first time.
1984 SAS receives Air Transport World’s distinction “Airline of the Year” for 1983.
1986 Spanair is founded
1989 SAS International Hotels owns 40% of Intercontinental Hotels Group. This stake sold in 1992.
1994 Focus on airline operations in the SAS Group – sale of a number of subsidiaries.
1996 SAS celebrates its 50th anniversary on August 1. Harmonization and name change of SAS parent company to SAS Danmark A/S, SAS Norge ASA and SAS Sverige AB.
1997 SAS is one of the founders of Star Alliance.
1998 Air Botnia becomes a wholly owned subsidiary of the SAS Group.
1999 The SAS Group becomes a majority owner of Widerøe.
2001 A single SAS share is established. On July 6, SAS is listed on the stock exchanges in Stockholm, Copenhagen and Oslo. Braathens is acquired by the SAS Group in December.
2002 Rezidor SAS Hospitality signed a master franchise agreement with Carlson Hotels Worldwide.
2003 Acquisition of 49% of the shares in Estonian Air.
2004 Incorporation of Scandinavian Airlines Sverige, SAS Braathens and Scandinavian Airlines Danmark.
2005 The SAS Group sells European Aeronautical Group to Navtech Inc. The SAS Group sells Jetpak Group to Polaris Private Equity and 67 % of SAS Component to Singapore Technologies Engineering. Furthermore Carlson Hotels acquires a 25 % stake in Rezidor SAS.
2006 SAS celebrates 60 years. CEO Jørgen Lindegaard leaves SAS on August 1; replaced temporarily by CFO Gunnar Reitan. Rezidor Hotels introduced at the Stockholm Stock Exchange
2007 Mats Jansson becomes new CEO for SAS. SAS Strategy 2011 is introduced. Flight Academy was sold. SAS Group sold its remaining stake in Rezidor to Carlson Companies
2008 Datagraf acquires SAS Media. SAS Facility Management sold to Coor. SAS Group sells airBaltic to the management of the Company.
2009 To facilitate the implementation of Core SAS a rights issue of appr SEK 6 billion was carried out.
2010 To further strengthen the financial preparedness and complete Core SAS a rights issue of appr SEK 5 billion was carried out.
2011 Rickard Gustafson became new CEO of SAS. The stragegy plan 4Excellence was launched.
2012 SAS launched the restructuring program 4Excellence Next Generation.
2013 SAS sold 80% of its holding in Wideröe.
2014 SAS completed a SEK 3.5 bn issue of preference shares.
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