Strange: Scandinavian Airlines adds New York JFK flights

Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) flies to JFK for the first time in over 30 years… and I find that a little surprising?

Scandinavian Airlines returns to JFK

From February 9, 2023, Scandinavian Airlines will launch a route between New York (JFK) and Copenhagen (CPH). The service will initially be operated 5 times a week, but will be expanded to daily in the summer season. The flight will operate according to the following schedule:

SK919 Copenhagen to New York departs 6:25pm, arrives 9:30pm
SK920 New York to Copenhagen Departs 23:00 Arrives 12:55 (+1 Day)

The 3,856-mile flight will be blocked at 9:55 a.m. westbound and 7:55 a.m. eastbound. Scandinavian Airlines will initially use an Airbus A321LR with only 157 seats for the route. For the summer, the airline will convert the route to an Airbus A330-300 with 262 seats.

Scandinavian Airlines will operate out of Terminal 7 at JFK, which will eventually be demolished. This is the terminal that British Airways is currently moving out of as it moves into Terminal 8 with American Airlines.

Scandinavian Airlines business class

Why Scandinavian Airlines’ return to JFK is surprising

On the surface, an airline adding a transatlantic flight to New York seems logical enough. Notably, Scandinavian Airlines New York JFK has not served in more than 30 years, instead consolidating all of the airline’s New York-area service at Newark Airport.

The airline flies to Newark from Copenhagen, Oslo and Stockholm. Many airlines have recognized that JFK and EWR are not full replacements for some passengers, although in this case:

  • Scandinavian Airlines is part of the Star Alliance and as such has many connections from Newark while having virtually no connection from JFK
  • Scandinavian Airlines is on bankruptcy protection trying to cut costs, and the economics of a once-daily flight to an airport on a small plane can be challenging, so the timing here seems odd

The airline says this new route aims to facilitate travel from both the west and east sides of New York. Here’s how Erik Westman, EVP & CCO of Network and Revenue Management describes this new path:

“We are very excited to introduce our new route to JFK. SAS offers a solid product to Scandinavia’s Newark Airport and we believe this addition to Copenhagen’s JFK will strengthen the New York offering for our customers. The US is a strategic market for SAS and we will continue to develop new routes and destinations whenever the right opportunity arises.”

It’s just interesting to see how airlines seem to be hesitating between JFK and EEA service – some airlines see the two airports as backups, some don’t, and some seem to be at a loss.

SAS flies to JFK Terminal 7

bottom line

Scandinavian Airlines is returning to New York JFK after departing the airport several decades ago. The airline will operate a route between New York and Copenhagen, complementing the existing service from Newark. Given that Scandinavian Airlines is trying to cut costs and given the airline’s connectivity from Newark, I’m a bit surprised that this new service is now being launched.

What do you think of SAS returning to JFK?