On August 1, 2016 Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) celebrates 70 years as pioneers in the sky. August 1, 1946 was the starting point for Scandinavia’s preferred airline through the merger of the Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish international airline operations.

On September 17 of the same year, 28 specially invited guests gathered for the inaugural flight with SAS’ new DC-4 “Dan Viking” from Stockholm to New York. The journey took 25 hours with intermediate landings in Copenhagen, Prestwick in Scotland and Gander on Newfoundland. The true history of SAS had begun.

“The anniversary marks SAS’s position as Scandinavia’s preferred airline, focusing on making life easy for travelers to, from, and within Scandinavia. I am grateful to each and every passenger and employee that has contributed to SAS’ 70 year long history and our future to come. We’ve been part of seventy years of unique travel stories, and there are many more to come“, says Rickard Gustafson, CEO and Group President, SAS.

Through the decades, SAS has launched the world’s first around-the-world service, in-flight entertainment system, tourist class and sleeper seats. SAS was the first airline to offer separate check-in and lounges, and we hired the first female commercial pilot. SAS was also first to implement green approaches, saving aircraft fuel and reducing emissions. 

SAS milestones 1946-2016

1946: SAS founded
First official SAS flight from Stockholm to New York takes place on September 17.

1954: First Polar route to Los Angeles
SAS is the world’s first airline to fly the Copenhagen – Los Angeles Polar route in regular scheduled services.

1957: First North Pole shortcut
SAS is the first airline to offer around-the-world service over the North Pole Copenhagen – Anchorage – Tokyo.

1959: SAS enters the jet age
The first jet aircraft, Caravelle, goes into service.

1961: SAS establishes SAS Catering
Later rebranded as SAS Service Partner and sold to Swissair’s Gate Gourmet in 1994.

1969: First female pilot at a Western Berlin

Norway’s Turi Widerøe becomes the first female pilot at a major western airline.

1979: Business class launched
Business class is introduced on all intercontinental routes.

1982: On time
For the first time, SAS is named Europe’s most punctual airline.

1997: Star Alliance introduced
SAS becomes a founding member of Star Alliance, the world’s largest global airline alliance.

2002: Longest non-stop flight
12,560 km flight brings ­Scandinavians home after 2002 Bali attack.

2004: Airline merger
Scandinavian Airlines in Norway and Braathens merge to become SAS Braathens.

2013 SAS introduces SAS App
The app is downloaded more than 2.3 million times and is awarded European best Airline app.

2016: New aircraft
SAS is one of the first carriers to receive Airbus 320-NEO aircrafts. SAS has bought 30 new 320-NEO aircrafts.