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One European airline has just brought the global aviation sector another step closer to the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) ultimate goal of achieving zero-emissions air travel by 2050.
Scandinavian Airlines (commonly referred to as SAS) opened reservations aboard its first all-electric airplanes, with advance bookings available aboard three inaugural flights in three different countries.
The 30-seat ES-30 model aircraft, developed in partnership with major manufacturer Airbus and Swedish-based startup Heart Aerospace, will take to the skies in 2028, marking the industry’s first instance of seats being made available aboard fuel-free commercial flights.
Bookings opened at 6 a.m. ET on Friday with no required deposit and tickets promptly sold out, but consumers can still add their names to a waitlist or sign up to be notified of any future opportunities.
While the exact departure dates and airports have yet to be determined, the Stockholm-based carrier said tickets are for ceremonial maiden flights to travel domestically in Sweden, Norway and Denmark—countries in which SAS operates as a flag carrier, having hubs in Copenhagen, Oslo, and Stockholm. Travelers who have made a reservation for these initial flights “will be continuously notified by email as the specifics take shape”, according to the airline’s website.
“We have a long, and indeed proud, tradition of being pioneers within the aviation industry,” SAS President and CEO Anko van der Werff told Condé Nast Traveler. “It is our firm intention to maintain that position—particularly when it comes to exploring new ways to overcome the challenges of making aviation more sustainable.”
SAS’ ambition to produce net-zero emissions by 2050 includes several goals for milestones along the way, such as reducing 25 percent of its total carbon emissions by 2025 through the use of more fuel-efficient and hydrogen-powered aircraft, and enough sustainable aviation fuel to power all of its regional flights by 2030.
SAS plane. (Source: SAS)
The airline’s own timeline for going green also aligns with the Swedish government’s sustainability goals, which include achieving net-zero emissions from domestic flights by 2030 and on all international flights departing from Sweden by 2045.
“We’re doing this to manifest our strong belief in the development of electric aircraft as a viable option for more sustainable aviation, and to show our travelers that the future of aviation is closer than many might think,” said van der Werff. “When it comes to the aircraft, we have multiple initiatives underway towards zero-emission flights, and final selection will be done in time for the first electric flight—and beyond.”
While SAS is the first to have opened ticketing reservations aboard commercial all-electric flights to consumers, other carriers around the world are also working with Heart Aerospace to add electric aircraft to their regional fleets. Air Canada ordered 30 of the ES-30 models in Fall 2022 and invested in a minority share in the company, United Airlines and Mesa Air Group jointly ordered 200 19-seat aircraft in 2021, and Air New Zealand and Portuguese carrier Sevenair also reportedly have deals with the Swedish startup.
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Laurie Baratti is a San Diego-based journalist whose work has previously appeared in publications like TravelAge West, SPACE,...
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