On the 1st of August, 1946, Det Danske Luftfartselskab A/S, Svensk Interkontinental Lufttrafik AB, and Det Norske Luftfartselskap AS, the flag carriers of Denmark, Sweden and Norway respectively, established a partnership to handle the own intercontinental air traffic of their own countries.
Operations started in mid-September, 1946, and the companies merged in 1951, forming the SAS Consortium.
SAS was the first airline in the world to operate a trans-polar route, connecting Copenhagen to Los Angeles in 1954 via Søndre Strømfjord, Greenland and Winnipeg, Canada.
Only three years later, SAS became world’s first airline to provided “round the world service over the North Pole” via the North Pole shortcut Copenhagen-Anchorage-Tokyo.
SAS’ first jet, the Sud Aviation Caravelle, entered service in 1959.
The first Boeing 747 joined the SAS fleet 12 years later.
In 1993, SAS tried to merge with KLM, Austrian, and the now defunct carrier, Swissair. Unfortunately, that project, called Alcazar, failed.
In May, 1997, SAS and Air Canada, Lufthansa, Thai Airways International and United Airlines formed the global Star Alliance network.
In 2004, Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) was divided into four companies: SAS Scandinavian Airlines Sverige AB, SAS Scandinavian Airlines Danmark AS, SAS Braathens AS and SAS Scandinavian International AS, with SAS Braathens being re-branded SAS Scandinavian Airlines Norge AS in 2007.
In late 2007, SAS removed all Dash 8 Q400 aircraft from service after 3 landing gear incidents that, fortunately, did not cause any victims.
In January, 2009, SAS Group signed Norway’s largest air-travel agreement. SAS and Wideroe will handle StatoilHydro’s domestic travel through their major route network in Norway comprising 3,000 domestic departures weekly.
In 2009, SAS was the world’s third most punctual major airline. SAS also kept its position as Europe’s most punctual major airline.
In 2010, SAS added codeshare destinations in Africa and US, with agreements with both Continental Airlines and Ethiopian Airlines. SAS started to offer its customers another 14 new codeshare destinations in the US with Continental via SAS’ New York hub.
Also in 2010, the SAS Group received ISO 14001 and EMAS certification from Bureau Veritas. This means that the SAS Group, including SAS, Blue1 and Wideroe, is the only one in the world to have both certificates. The SAS Cargo division was already ISO 14001 certified and has now added EMAS.
In February, 2011, Rickard Gustafson started as the new President and CEO of SAS.
In 2011, Scandinavian Airlines was named Innovator of the Year for its social media and PR campaign, Love is in the air, which became a global phenomena, with over 150 million people worldwide hearing or seeing it.
In December, 2011, Scandinavian Airlines launched Internet and GSM onboard, being one of the first airlines in the world to offer its customers wireless Internet onboard their flights. SASWiFi allowed passenger to surf the Internet and use their GSM phones. A contract was signed between Scandinavian Airlines and Panasonic to offer WiFi and GSM using Panasonic’s eXconnect and eXphone systems.
In 2012, SAS Group refinanced three Airbus A330-300 aircraft with a new USD 125 million secured credit facility.
In November 2012, SAS announced the launch of 45 new routes in 2013. SAS started to offer direct flights to new destinations from all of the main airports and a number of regional airports in the Nordic countries. In addition to these new routes, SAS increased the frequency of flights on a number of domestic and European routes.
In February, 2013, SAS was the first airline company in the world to achieve the IATA Fast Travel Award platinum status. This means that SAS offers to over 80% of all its passenger, the self-service options that make up the IATA Fast Travel program.
In March, 2013, SAS replaced the previous service classes when it launched a new service concept: SAS Go, for passengers who want to have a lot, and SAS Plus, for passengers who want to have more.
In June, 2013, SAS initiated long-haul fleet renewal plan with a Memorandum of Understanding signed with Airbus for 12 new aircraft, four new A330-300 Enhanced and eight new A350-900 XWB, and a total upgrade of cabins on the A330/340-fleet. The new aircraft brought significantly down fuel consumption which will lower costs and reduce emissions.
In 2014, SAS launched advance seat reservation on short-haul flights. Now, all passengers with SAS Go tickets to European destinations have the opportunity to choose their seat when they book their flight. Advanced seat reservation has previously only been available on long-haul routes, but now is available on flights between Scandinavia and European destinations.
In March, 2014, SAS announced it will launch services between Stavanger and Houston on August 20, 2014. This will attend the oil industry with better connections between Houston, Texas to Norway and the rest of Scandinavia. The new route will be operated by a business version of the Boeing 737-700 and will have an SAS Long Haul Business Class concept on board, with comfortable business seats.
In September 2015, SAS introduced SAS Go Light, a new offering available on routes between Scandinavia and Europe for passengers who want to travel only with hand luggage. The new hand baggage only fare offers the same options as SAS Go, such as re-booking within 24 hours, seat selection 22 hours before departure and tea and coffee on board the aircraft, the only difference between the fares being the baggage charge.
In August 2016, SAS celebrated 70 years as pioneers in the sky through the decades: the world’s first around-the-world service, in-flight entertainment system, tourist class, and sleeper seats, and the first airline to offer separate check-in and lounges, to hire a female commercial pilot, and to implement green approaches, saving aircraft fuel and reducing emissions.
In 2017, Scandinavian Airlines launched, on all its domestic, Scandinavian, and European flights, its new food & drinks concept, New Nordic by SAS – fresh, natural, high-quality ingredients from local producers packed in a cube. The concept has been developed based on the feedback from SAS customers and cabin crew. The new dining concept is part of the SAS New Experience where SAS is also upgrading its short- and medium-haul fleet with new Airbus A320neo aircraft, new cabins, and high-speed WiFi.
First deadly accident involving SAS occurred on the 4th of July, 1948, when a DC-6B collided with a British military aircraft, and all 32 people on board perished. The accident with the highest number of SAS passenger fatalities (and the last one leading to passenger deaths) took place in early October, 2001, in Milan, Italy, when an MD-87 collided with a small Cessna during take-off, and all 110 people on board died, along with 4 on the Cessna, and 4 on the ground.