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Flying into a more sustainable future

Investment in state-of-the-art aircraft, increased use of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) and the gradual phasing out of older airplanes are central pillars in SAS’ drive towards a sustainable future.

SAS has been working hard to reduce emissions for decades. With a focus towards sustainable aviation, the airline’s goal is to reduce emissions by 25% by 2025 vs. 2005, mainly by modernizing its fleet and increasing the use of sustainable aviation fuels.

The main CO2 emission-reducing effort is modernizing the fleet by adding Airbus A320neos, the most fuel-efficient short-haul aircraft available today, and long-haul Airbus A350s.

Fuel-efficient aircraft

In total, SAS will take delivery of eight Airbus A350s, possibly the most modern fuel-efficient aircraft in the sky today. The new airplane will lower fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by approximately 30% compared to previous generation aircraft like the A340.

The A350 is faster than prior aircraft (A340 = 875 km/h vs. A350 = 910 km/h) and has a range of 13,800km, meaning it can fly all global SAS routes.

It also has an external noise footprint that is 40% lower versus previous generation aircraft, while onboard passengers benefit from a reduction of 5-9 decibels depending on their position in the plane.

Meanwhile, SAS has also ordered 80 new Airbus A320neo aircraft, 45 of which have already been put into service. 

Advanced high-tech engines, ‘sharklets’ on the wings and new lightweight cabins make the A320neo around 15% more fuel-efficient than the earlier A320 models. On some longer flights the A320neo uses about 300–400kg less fuel per hour. 

Speaking of fuel, increasing the use of biofuel and other sustainable aviation fuels will also help reduce CO2 emissions. “SAS has a strong commitment to sustainability and our ambition is to be using up to 40% sustainable aviation fuel by 2030. Continuing to introduce the A320neo into the short and medium haul fleet is a big part of that commitment,” says Lars Andersen Resare, Head of Sustainability and CSR at SAS.

“If you compare an A320neo with one of the older aircraft we phased out a few years ago there is roughly a 40% fuel reduction per seat, even without sustainable aviation fuels. And if we use 50% sustainable aviation fuel in the tanks the emission reduction is around 60% per seat,” he adds.

And while new aircraft are being added to the fleet, older, less sustainable ones are steadily being phased out. SAS intends to phase out its fleet of the 24 Boeing 737s over time.

Sustainable way of cleaning planes

Besides investing in new airplanes, the design onboard is updated inside all aircraft. SAS has changed the cabin interiors using, for example, new seats and carpets that weigh less and are made of more sustainable materials, a weight reduction which in turn contributes to reduced emissions. SAS has also launched initiatives to keep the use of plastic packaging to a bare minimum, launched the pre-order meal concept to reduce weight and waste, begun using electric vehicles on the ground, optimized the use of deicing fluids, and much more.

Even the way we wash the airplanes keeps sustainability in mind. Traditionally, keeping aircraft clean has involved lots of soap and water – around 2,500 liters of water to wash one A320.

Dry washing is a much more sustainable way of cleaning airplanes. The amount of water SAS now saves across the entire fleet is staggering. Cutting down on water used by up to 98% has an even greater impact when it comes to long-haul aircraft – using the traditional method, for example, it takes roughly 13,000 liters to clean an A330. 

“If you're an airline that’s serious about making adjustments in order to meet sustainability goals like we are, then dry wash is a much better way to clean your aircraft. It cuts down on water use massively and reduces emissions during flight. Dry washing is a clear win-win,” says Lars Andersen Resare. 

Within SAS, there is a strong belief that air travel connects businesses, communities, cultures and people in a time-efficient way. That is why SAS constantly work hard to reduce the climate impact from the operations, so that the value of aviation can be ensured for generations to come. 

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