SAS Eyeing Latin America Markets

Recently appointed SAS CEO Anko van der Werff, who joined in summer 2021 from Colombian full-service carrier Avianca, told the World Routes 2021 conference program that his experience in Latin America gave him insight into potentially viable opportunities.

Winter demand from SAS’ home markets will be primarily driven by leisure travelers seeking sunshine from the “very dark parts of the world” in which it operates, which is “not so much just about temperature as it is about just getting some vitamin D,” said van der Werff.

“I happen to have spent a few years in Latin America, so I know how beautiful these markets are,” he said. “I do think that many of them can and will work.”

“But not this winter, that comes too soon.”

SAS currently operates service into North America including routes to Chicago (ORD), New York via Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) and Los Angeles (LAX) from Copenhagen (CPH), with further services from Stockholm (ARN).

The airline was “very, very happy” when the US market became available for travel to/from Europe and has seen high levels of demand, said van der Werff.

“Once that announcement came from the Biden administration, we saw demand immediately picking up and booking levels already outpacing 2019,” he said.

However, in Asia, where SAS has offered services including Beijing (PEK), Tokyo (NRT) and Hong Kong (HKG), the recovery is likely to be slower.

“Asia, forget about it for the time being. That's probably another six-to-nine months away.”

Photo credit:

Wesley Charnock

Wesley Charnock is Editor-in-Chief of Routes, the global route development community's leading event and media brand. Routes is part of the Aviation Week Network.