SAS Scandinavian Airlines is to launch a new direct transatlantic connection between Stavanger and Houston from August this year in partnership with premium airline operation specialist PrivatAir. The route will be served using a 44-seat business version of the Boeing 737-700 painted in the SAS livery and fitted with SAS’s long-haul Business Class product.
The new route will operate on a six times weekly basis and will launch on August 20, 2014, just ahead of the Offshore Northern Seas (ONS) Conference and Exhibition, one of the energy sector’s key events in the industry’s calendar, which will take place in Stavanger between August 25 – 28, 2014 and will likely attract considerable traffic from the Texan city. With more than 1,200 companies exhibiting and around 40,000 decision makers from more than 90 countries visiting the show, ONS provides an ideal opportunity to target important customers and suppliers in the oil and gas arena.
SAS said the new route will fulfill the wishes of leading players in the oil industry for better connections between Norway, and the rest of Scandinavia, and Houston, Texas. "The route we have established is a tailored product for a defined market with particular travel needs," explained Rickard Gustafson, president and chief executive officer, SAS.
"The favorable timetable provides excellent connections throughout Scandinavia in both directions, while Houston is a hub for places to the south and west such as Mexico, Los Angeles, Dallas and Phoenix with the Star Alliance," he added.
According to MIDT data, an estimated 51,000 bi-directional O&D passengers flew between Norway and Houston in 2013, with around 16,000 of these passengers flying from or to Stavanger. Currently passengers flying on the Stavanger – Houston route need to make use of a one or two stop strategy to complete the journey with the largest current flows via Netherlands with SkyTeam partners KLM and Delta Air Lines or via Germany with Star Alliance members Lufthansa and United Airlines.
With the strong demand from the energy business yields will be strong and other European flag carriers that serve Houston regularly fly with packed premium cabins but low demand in Economy: this is why the operation of the 44-seat 737-700 can be viewed as the ideal equipment for this niche route.
According to our analysis the average one-way fare paid by passengers flying between Norway and Houston in 2013 was $2,081. This is more than double the average fares currently being paid for travel between Norway and the cities SAS currently serves in the United States. This network comprises Washington ($918 each way), San Francisco ($812), Chicago ($685), Los Angeles ($675), Newark ($675) and New York ($421).
In the chart below we highlight O&D demand between Stavanger Airport and George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston and the general growth on the airport pair. In the ten years between 2003 and 2013 demand more than doubled, and although there have only been small rises so far this decade the route is showing year-on-year growth.