SAS Scandinavian Airlines Confirms Star Alliance Exit

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Scandinavian Airlines, a prominent airline in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, has officially announced its departure from the Star Alliance. Here's what we know so far.

I travel around Norway and across the Nordic region for work, and frequently travel to both the U.K. and Mexico to see family. As someone who flies a lot, I've been closely following the fortunes of SAS these last years.

SAS planes at Oslo Airport in the winter. Photo: David Nikel.
SAS planes at Oslo Airport in the winter. Photo: David Nikel.

Like many people, my reaction to the news that Air France-KLM would take a substantial stake in SAS was one of surprise. That was immediately followed by a curiosity about what would happen with EuroBonus frequent flyer program.

Now, while there's still a lot more information to come, we know a little more about what SAS will look like after it leaves Star Alliance.

SAS Laving Star Alliance

This move, confirmed to take effect on 31 August, 2024, marks a significant shift in the aviation landscape in Norway and beyond. SAS becomes the first founding member to exit the Star Alliance since its inception in 1997.

An airline alliance is a partnership where airlines collaborate to extend their networks and improve passenger services.

This collaboration often includes code-sharing, coordinated schedules, and shared loyalty programs, enabling travellers to enjoy broader flight options, smoother connections, and enhanced benefits across member airlines, thus making global travel more seamless and rewarding.

Prominent airlines remaining in Star Alliance include Air Canada, Air New Zealand, Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines Swiss, Turkish Airlines, and United.

All Change at SAS

The airline, grappling with financial challenges despite operating in some of Europe's most affluent countries, has undergone a comprehensive corporate restructuring.

A major step in this transformation is the acquisition of a 19.9% equity stake by Air France-KLM, a key player in the rival SkyTeam alliance.

KLM fly from Norway to the Netherlands. Photo: David Nikel.
KLM fly from Norway to the Netherlands. Photo: David Nikel.

This strategic partnership is poised to realign SAS's alliance affiliations, moving from Star Alliance to SkyTeam, in a bid to foster closer ties with its new stakeholders and enhance operational synergies.

A major step in the history of SAS, the decision to leave Star Alliance is attributed to the airline's pressing financial predicament. This led to a voluntary Chapter 11 filing in the United States in July 2022.

This legal process, aimed at reducing costs and restructuring financially, underscores the airline's efforts to stabilise and revitalise its operations amidst challenging circumstances.

SAS in SkyTeam

Transitioning to SkyTeam from 1 September, SAS assures customers of a seamless shift, promising comparable benefits with SkyTeam airlines, including prominent carriers like Delta Air Lines, Air France, and KLM.

The other airlines in SkyTeam are Aerolineas Argentinos, AeroMexico, AirEuropa, China Airlines, China Eastern, Czech Airlines, Garuda Indonesia, ITA Airways, Kenya Airways, Korean Air, Middle East Airlines, Saudia, TAROM, Vietnam Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, and Xiamen Air.

This affiliation switch is expected to offer frequent flyers new avenues for loyalty point accrual and redemption across SkyTeam's extensive global network.

For me, this is the most important thing, as the ability to use my status on KLM long-haul flights to Mexico is a massive bonus.

The Future of the EuroBonus Programme

Despite the alliance change, SAS is committed to ensuring a smooth transition for its EuroBonus loyalty program members.

Benefits similar to those currently enjoyed under Star Alliance will be maintained, with the airline actively working to enhance partnerships within the SkyTeam framework while retaining the EuroBonus brand.

The Future of Star Alliance in Scandinavia

While SAS's departure deals a significant blow to Star Alliance's presence in Scandinavia, the alliance remains optimistic about its regional operations.

Star Alliance, which boasts a robust network of 17 airlines serving Scandinavia, has hinted at potential expansions to mitigate the impact of SAS's exit.

About David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a professional writer on all things Scandinavia.

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2 thoughts on “SAS Scandinavian Airlines Confirms Star Alliance Exit”

  1. Just got a call from Amex Travel. I had booked RT EWR-VIE on SAS via Amex Travel for 25AUG to 3SEP. Outbound flight no problem, return has been cancelled because SAS no longer will be flying to VIE. Now what? They offered me a full refund. I declined hoping to investigate if they can book my return through a sky team partner like Air France or KLM. Do I have any chance of getting them to help me out here?


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