By Craig Davis, craigslegztravels.com
Get ready to fly the quiet skies.
That is the objective of Scandinavian Airlines, which on June 2 will begin taking reservations for its first commercial electric flights planned for some time in 2028.
SAS is making 30 seats available for each of three inaugural flights within Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, where the airline serves as flag carrier.
This is a key step in SAS’ objective to meet the airline industry-wide goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, set by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
The actual dates and routes of these flights have not been announced — Expectations are the flights will depart from the capital cities Copenhagen, Oslo and Stockholm . But reservations for the historic flights can be made at flysas.com/electric starting at 6 a.m. EST on June 2.
The ticket price for the inaugural flight will be 1,946 in the currency of each of the three countries (SEK/NOK/DKK). That is a tribute to the year that SAS first started flying.
At the current exchange rates, that’s $279 U.S. for the Danish flight, $175 for the Norwegian flight and $179 for the Swedish flight.
There is no fee to make a reservation, which is limited to two seats per booking. The ticket doesn’t have to be paid until 30 days before the flight.
Airlines aim to reduce carbon emissions
This is an effective attention-grabbing move by SAS, which is aiming to reduce its total carbon emissions by 25 percent by 2025 by using more sustainable aviation fuel.
Estimates indicate that commercial aviation accounts for 3 to 4 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, about 2.5 percent globally.
World-wide, energy-related CO2 emissions generated by aviation is growing faster than the other transportation sectors of road, rail or shipping.
The airline industry’s objective is to fly more climate friendly skies in the near future.
A mandate to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 was joined by 184 nations in an agreement negotiated by the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization.
The International Air Transport Association is calling for governments to increase support for production of sustainable aviation fuels, derived from agricultural residues and other waste biomass. (Here is a primer on sustainable aviation fuels).
The IATA contends such fuels can reduce carbon emissions by up to 80 percent. But it’s a slow and costly process to get to net-zero.
Electric planes best suited to short, regional flights
Electric aircraft is another strategy that some airlines are pursuing. Battery-powered planes offer low cost to operate and maintain, and they produce no emissions in operation. But the weight of batteries currently available makes it practical only for small planes.
Nonetheless, United Airlines ordered 100 battery-powered aircraft from Swedish startup Heart Aerospace and plans to have them flying regional routes later in the decade. Air Canada ordered 30 electric planes from the same firm.
SAS also plans to build its regional fleet with Heart’s new ES-30 electric aircraft, which has a range of 124 miles in all-electric mode and a hybrid-electric option to extend range to 249 miles by combining electricity with generators and reducing the number of passengers.
“The ES-30 is an electric airplane that the industry can actually use. We have designed a cost efficient airplane that allows airlines to deliver good service on a wide range of routes,” Anders Forslund, founder and CEO of Heart Aerospace, said in a news release. “With the ES-30 we can start cutting emissions from air travel well before the end of this decade and the response from the market has been fantastic.”
2028 is sooner than you may think
SAS regards the venture into electric aircraft as a logical next step for a company that takes pride as a pioneer in the industry, notably as the first commercial airline operator to fly over the North Pole to significantly shorten flight time between continents.
For those who want to be at the forefront of the historic ascent into the quieter skies, don’t delay. There’s only 30 seats available per flight.
“The fact that we can now invite our passengers to the next major milestone in the future of aviation is a natural continuation of that pioneering spirit and a significant step on our journey towards more sustainable aviation,” said SAS CEO Anko van der Werff.