Scandinavian airline SAS increases flights to United States after end of travel ban

Scandinavian airline SAS announced on Wednesday it is to increase services to the United States, in a direct response to the end of the US travel ban on foreign tourists.

A SAS aircraft at Copenhagen Airport. The airline is to ramp up services to the United States in late 2021 after the end of the US Covid-19 travel ban.
A SAS aircraft at Copenhagen Airport. The airline is to ramp up services to the United States in late 2021 after the end of the US Covid-19 travel ban. Photo: Mathias Løvgreen Bojesen/Ritzau Scanpix

The United States ended its Covid travel ban on all passengers on November 8th, provided arrivals are fully vaccinated and undergo testing and contact tracing.

Effectively, the change means vaccinated travellers from Europe can now again visit the US.

US nationals living in Europe and their close family members had been able to travel home across the Atlantic despite the ban but the strict rules had made this impractical or impossible for many.

SAS will offer up to 100 flights per week between the US and Scandinavia during the Christmas and New Year period following the end of the ban, the airline said in a press statement on Wednesday.

“As a direct result of the US now opening to more visitors, demand for travel is rising sharply. SAS is now updating its traffic program and increasing the number of flights to and from the US,” the airline stated.

SAS operates flights to a number of major United States cities from Copenhagen, Stockholm and Oslo.

The airline resumed its Stockholm-Miami route on November 8th and will also resume flights to the Florida city from Copenhagen on November 10th, and from Oslo on November 11th.

This means that SAS will have daily flights to Miami from Scandinavia during the winter.

Services to New York will also increase with departures twice daily from Copenhagen, Oslo, and Stockholm, starting November.

Flights from Stockholm to Chicago begin from mid-December, with daily departures already operating to the city from Copenhagen. SAS will also increase the number of flights to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington DC from Copenhagen over Christmas and New Year.

“It is very gratifying that we can increase the number of flights and offer our customers the chance to finally be able to travel again and experience the other side of the Atlantic, and meet with friends and family,” CCO Karl Sandlund said in the statement.

In October, Anko Van der Werff, who took over as CEO with SAS in July, said the airline faced a “fight” to “have a future” amid problems including a permanent drop in business travel and costly collective labour agreements.

READ ALSO: SAS ‘fighting for survival’ as Nordic airline’s shares plunge

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Norwegian police urge travellers not to book holidays without a valid passport 

The public has been warned by the Norwegian Police Directorate, which issues travel documents, to not book any foreign holidays without a valid passport due to long waiting times for travel documents.

Norwegian police urge travellers not to book holidays without a valid passport 

Due to long waiting times, the public has been cautioned against making holiday plans without a valid Norwegian passport as travel documents may not arrive in time for the trip. 

“We would strongly encourage people to wait to book a holiday abroad before they know that they have their travel documents in order,” Bjørn Vandvik from the Norwegian Police Directorate said in a statement on Wednesday

Previously the police said that those travelling within the EEA this summer should instead order a national ID card which allows for travel within the Schengen area because that form of travel documentation was subject to shorter waiting times. 

Those wishing to travel during fellesferie, the collective holiday period in Norway, have been advised to order new travel documents by the end of May or the beginning of June at the latest. 

Despite the measures put in place by the police to try and ensure that supply meets demand, waiting lists are growing longer, and the authorities don’t expect the backlog to be cleared until the autumn.

The current waiting time for passports is around seven weeks. However, the police have said they expect this to increase to 10 weeks by July. 

READ MORE: How do Norway’s slow passport processing times compare to Denmark and Sweden?

So far this year, the police have received 560,40 passport applications. In contrast, the police registered 270,000 applications in 2019. 

A mixture of the pandemic and war in Ukraine has made getting the materials used to produce national ID cards and passports more difficult.