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SAS brand new Airbus A350XWB awaiting it’s first scheduled departure from Chicago O’Hare (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Ben Suskind)

Interview: SAS Operates First A350 Flight to Chicago

The introduction of a new aircraft type into an airline’s fleet is a momentous occasion. Years of planning prelude to the actual first flight of the aircraft in an airline’s fleet.

Back in November 2019 AirlineGeeks attended the delivery ceremony for SAS Scandinavian Airlines first Airbus A350 in Toulouse, France. Since then the aircraft has been put through tests and operated on crew familiarization flights around Denmark.

On Jan. 28, 2020 SAS operated its inaugural flight with its first Airbus A350-900 WXB, SE-RSA named the “Ingegerd Viking,” from Copenhagen Kastrup, Denmark to Chicago O’Hare International Airport.

During the festivities of the evening, AirlineGeeks had the opportunity to touch base with Per Tideus, who is the on-board product manager of cabin interiors, and talk a bit more about the new aircraft.

AirlineGeeks(AG): The business class product has been updated on the A350, but what can the economy passengers expect differently on the A350 versus other long-haul aircraft in your fleet?

Per Tideus(PT) A: Well, here we actually have a completely new seat from Collins who designed the seat. The video monitor of course is bigger like everybody else. The seat will now cradle you more than the previous seats where they just recline, that way it’s more comfortable and also the seats are designed such as your legs can stretch out under the seat in front of you easier.

(AG): Is there anything else about your economy product you find unique from your competitors?

(PT): We have focused a little bit more on a reason to walk, so we have in the back a snack shop that way it gives them a reason to get out of their seats. This will also entice them to venture towards the back of the aircraft a bit more than in previous aircraft.

(AG): The A350 is planned to replace some of your older aircraft on current routes, but do you see this aircraft opening up any new opportunities in terms of destinations?

(PT): Yes, absolutely. For sure we did arrange this aircraft to operate some newer sections and destinations, I guess our network department knows better what next the plan is for this aircraft.

(AG): Especially recently, other airlines have been coming out with updated and improved first class cabins, what will set your premium cabin apart from those of other airlines?

(PT): What we have is we introduced the business class seat in 2015, we scanned the market and saw what others were doing and wanted to be different. So we said let’s focus on just raising the quality and standard and add improvements on the seats, we have received comments on our air cushions from customers, so we replaced them with traditional cushions, we have new feature where you can adjust your seat more individually instead of having pre-set movements in the controls, of course bigger screens with 18.5inches and higher resolution, and a smaller privacy screen for those passengers seated against the aisles. Of course we did look into these more cocoon types where you have your own sliding door, we feel like we are not there yet, that’s not the Scandinavian way, we want it to feel more open and want them to be more involved with the flight and not close themselves off.

(AG): What made you choose the A350 over other efficient long-haul aircraft such as the Dreamliner?

(PT): They came out pretty evenly, although I wasn’t really involved with the final answer and we just gave recommendations. It was about the overall picture, we also looked into replacing the short-haul aircraft that we were operating and Airbus gave us a pretty good deal and now we are focusing on a one manufacturer fleet to operate SAS with, so now we have the A320NEO for short-haul and the A350 for long-haul and we got a package deal and a good price.

(AG): Scandinavia as a region is well known for its environment and its beautiful scenery, is there any way you are trying to incorporate that into this aircraft?

(PT): Sure, we have looked into sustainability, lower the weight of the seats, carpet and those type of equipment going into the aircraft, fuel efficiency, for instance, we know it is very good at, air quality on-board, really good. What we did is a big change in 2015 and we don’t want to do any dramatic changes on the interior as we didn’t want to change it that quickly as we are now implementing this cabin on short-haul aircraft.

Joey Gerardi
Joey Gerardi
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