SAS Begins Long Haul A321LR Flights

The A321LR will operate from Copenhagen to Washington Dulles. SK925 will depart Denmark at 11:45 and arrive in the US at 15:15 local time, Returning, SK926 will leave Dulles at 17:15 and arrive home at 07:15 the next day.

It follows the carrier’s long-haul trial of the aircraft on the same route on December 22nd. The first regular service comes nearly two months earlier than previously expected. It was bookable from March 27th, with the schedule change to February 4th being made in mid-January.

The flight to Washington has a block time of nine hours and 30 minutes. That’s 35 minutes longer than the A330-300 it replaces, as smaller aircraft cruise at slower speeds. The impact of wind is such that on the way back it’s only five minutes longer.


SAS A321LR Copenhagen to Dulles

Until mid-January, SAS had scheduled the A321LR to operate from March 27th, the first date of the aviation summer season. Now it’ll operate regularly from February 4th. Image: SAS.

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SAS currently has two A321LRs

The two examples are registered SE-DMO (delivered in October 2020) and SE-DMR (September 2021), with a third (SE-DMS) to be delivered. With only 157 seats, they’re relatively premium-heavy – exactly what is needed for long-haul narrowbody service to offset higher seat-mile costs.

They have 22 fully flat seats in SAS Business, 12 seats in SAS Plus (premium economy), and 123 in SAS Go. It is unusual to see a premium economy on long-haul narrowbodies.


SAS will have three A321LRs. Photo: Airbus

SAS A321LRs to the US

SAS currently serves Copenhagen-Dulles three-weekly. In February, the A321LR will operate two of these three (on Fridays and Sundays but not on Wednesdays) for just eight return trips this month. Things will soon change, with the introduction of Copenhagen to Newark and Boston on March 27th. That’s the first day of the aviation summer season.

In the first week of summer (March 27th-April 2nd), SAS has 40 A321LR round-trips bookable: a once-daily service to Dulles and Newark, and six-weekly to Boston. Boston and Dulles will be almost exclusively by the narrowbody, although the A330-300 reappears in October. It’s so far away that much could change. Newark, meanwhile, will double to twice-daily from March 27th. The A330 will operate the peak-time midday service, with the A321LR deployed on the early evening departure.

In this first week, the schedule is as follows with all times local. It’ll require three operational aircraft, so expect the third example to be delivered soon.

  1. Copenhagen to Dulles: SK925, 12:00-15:00; return: SK926, 17:15-07:35+1
  2. Copenhagen to Boston: SK927, 12:30-14:55; return: SK928, ​​17:15-06:45+1
  3. Copenhagen to Newark: SK901, 18:15-21:05; return: SK902, 23:30-13:20+1

SAS A321LR network at the start of summer 2022

Boston and Newark will join Dulles from March 27th. Image: GCMap.

The economics of long-haul A321s

In 2020, and RDC Aviation looked at Aer Lingus’ A321neos versus A330-300s. It found that the narrowbody should boost the carrier’s long-haul performance, with deployment especially sensible on thinner or less competitive routes, or at less demanded times of the day.

It showed that the A321 requires 41% fewer passengers to breakeven (at 85% seat load factor). Because the A321 is obviously much smaller, it would have a 15% higher seat-mile cost, necessitating a 15% higher average fare to breakeven. However, the unit cost increase would be offset by an approximately 50% lower fixed/variable cost per sector.


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