In aviation, safety has always been, is, and will continue to be everyone’s top priority. With the global pandemic severely disrupting flying and our travelling habits for over a year now, we have launched an initiative to talk to the air carriers flying to and from our airports.
In the second interview from our new "Five pre-flight questions" series, we talk to Niko Ek, Head of Sales Europe at SAS - Scandinavian Airlines, on how the airline has adapted, what additional safety measures have been put in place, and what the upcoming Summer season holds for us.
In the aviation industry, safety has always been the top priority. How has your airline adapted to the changed working environment and what measures have been put in place?
The safety of our passengers and staff is our highest priority, with or without a pandemic. We have introduced a large number of additional safety measures to make traveling safe during the current conditions. Procedures both at the airport and in the aircraft are changed to minimize interaction and to keep social distance. Wearing a face mask is mandatory for staff and passengers during the whole flight and all our aircrafts are equipped with so called HEPA filters (High Efficiency Particulate Air) to keep the air clean. In practice it means that the filters onboard capture over 99,9% of microbes in the air and the air is completely exchanged every 2-3 minutes.
How does, in terms of health safety, travelling by plane differ from other modes of transportation?
I would like to believe that all transportation companies do their outmost to deliver a safe journey, regardless of the mode of transportation. When it comes to safety, it is not fair or in our interest to compare different means of transportation. We do what we can and firmly believe that we have been successful in making traveling with SAS a safe experience.
Before Covid appeared on the scenery, we were used to booking trips for the longer term, for example, six months in advance. But due to the abundance of different travel regulations among countries, planning a trip became far more challenging. Could you tell us how your booking process has changed since, and what measures have you put in place for people to feel more confident while purchasing a flight ticket?
Booking and buying behaviour have changed significantly during the pandemic. Due to the uncertainty we have lived in, customers have and still are booking later that before. Now when the end of restrictions is in sight we can however see customers starting to plan their vacation trips further ahead in time. From the very start of the pandemic we have put a lot of efforts on communicating the extensive safety measures we have introduces to make travel as safe as only possible. To further add confidence for customers to book and travel, we have offered great flexibility in our conditions. On international travel you can for example rebook your flight free of charge until 72 hours before departure or cancel and receive the full amount as a voucher that you can use later.
There is this saying in aviation that no matter the weather, the sun always shines above the clouds. How does your airline see air travel in the upcoming Summer of 2021?
At SAS we believe that the vaccinations will be key to the broader return of travel. We are optimistic for the summer 2021 and expect, especially leisure travel, to pick up when boarders hopefully are opening as a result of decreasing infections due to vaccinations. We have a strong traffic program for the summer to cater for the built up desire to travel. New routes are introduced to for example Barcelona, Faro and Larnaca (from or via Scandinavia).
Finally, what would be your message to your current and future passengers?
Welcome, or welcome back to SAS when you are ready to travel. We will safely take you to Scandinavia or via Scandinavia to the world and back. At SAS are committed to continue on our already strong sustainability agenda to become a world leader in sustainable aviation, because aviation matters and the world becomes a better place with travel and human interaction. Scandinavia Starts At Take-off.