A few days ago the first Airbus A350 was delivered from Airbus in Toulouse to SAS and this week it was time for the formal inauguration. Actually not inauguration but inaugurations. There are no less than three inaugurations this week, one in each hub. So they use it as a bit of a promo tour at the same time. The tour started Monday in Copenhagen. Monday evening the aircraft flew from Copenhagen to Stockholm, a flight which also worked a pilot training. Today there was an inauguration in Stockholm and tomorrow the tour will end in Oslo. The main benefit of this is that more people get to see the new aircraft, including those who do not have the time to fly to another city.
After meeting up with SAS and Swedavia in terminal 3 where we collected our airside badges we were taken by bus to the hangar where the inauguration was to take place. As the hangar is located airside we all had to pass through security control, even though none of us were actually going to fly that day.
Just like during the inauguration of the first SAS Airbus A320NEO blue neon lighting was used in the hangar to create some cool lighting effects. Some of us would have appreciated seeing the aircraft outdoors, since it was a beautiful winter’s morning with some light snow. Just perfect for some good photo shots, but keeping the aircraft inside obviously also had some advantages.
Upon arrival we were all given badges with a destination code on them, obviously all of them destinations served by SAS.
I was given a tag to ORD, which naturally means Chicago O’Hare. Chicago is one of the more important SAS destinations served daily from both Stockholm and Copenhagen and there is also an SAS lounge there.
We later found out the purpose of these tags, to divide us into groups so we would not all board the aircraft at the same time but rather pass through different stations in the hangar and later inside the aircraft.
After some coffee, breakfast sandwiches and the signature SAS chocolate balls and chocolate pralines the SAS CEO Rikard Gustafson came out of the aircraft to greet the guests and to formally inaugurate the aircraft in Stockholm.
Needless to say he was very excited to be able to introduce a brand new aircraft to the fleet which will give several benefits to both the airline and the passengers such as shorter travel times, less fuel consumption and better passenger comfort.
Given the focus on climate and sustainability at the moment, and in Sweden in particular with the Swedish word ‘flygskam’ (flight shame) being referred to all around the world, there was obviously quite a lot of focus on the environmental aspects of the new aircraft during his speech and how new technology and the research and development in the aviation industry is the way forward for an airline. He also talked about the need for some balance. On the one hand each airline needs to take the responsibility for the impact it has on the climate, but at the same time one needs to realise an airline connects people all around the world, with many benefits as a consequence.
No ribbon-cutting ceremony this time, just a welcome speech and an invitation to come and explore the new aircraft.
The new SAS Airbus A350 also has a brand new SAS livery, not very different from the one Lufthansa recently introduced, which will also be used on most Airbus A320/A321 aircrafts and presumably later on all SAS aircrafts.
SAS has ordered eight Airbus A350 aircrafts which will be delivered during one by one during the next few months. The aircraft has capacity for 300 passengers with 40 seats in business class (SAS Business), 32 seats in premium economy (SAS Plus) and 228 seats in economy class (SAS Go).
The Airbus A350 has a length of 66.9 metres and a wingspan of 64.8 metres. It has a cruising speed of 910 kmph/570 mph and a range of 13,800 km.