SAS plans new Norwegian route

The Scandinavian is opening a new domestic route in Norway from next month, last served 17 years ago.

SAS Scandinavian Airlines has announced plans to begin service between Norway’s capital Oslo and Lakselv, a small town in the very north of the country, from April 17.

The route will be flown twice a week—on Mondays and Fridays—and comes 17 years since the carrier last served the destination nonstop.

SAS said the route would be suited to the travel needs of personnel in the armed forces. There is a military air base just north of Lakselv in Porsanger.

The planned launch comes a week after Norway’s government announced a conditional state loan guarantee for its aviation industry amounting to NKr6 billion ($533 million).

As part of the funding package, carriers must provide a certain minimum level of air service within Norway to ensure flights are maintained even if they are not currently commercially viable.

“Although there is a special situation in these corona times, the defense personnel with family and friends can soon enjoy our new flight offer,” SAS CFO Torbjørn Wist said.

Flights to the Avinor-operated Lakselv Airport (LKL) start on April 17 with Boeing 737, before SAS switches to Airbus 320neo in the autumn.

SAS halted most of its operations from March 16 and is temporarily laying off up to 90% of its staff.

The company said the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak means demand for air travel is “essentially non-existent.” The staff cuts will affect about 10,000 workers.