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SAS: first lower cost non-Scandinavian bases will be Málaga and (expensive, congested) Heathrow

SAS has announced a new base in Málaga and confirmed that its new London base will be at Heathrow. It had previously communicated plans for bases in Spain and London, without specifying the airports.

SAS has established an Irish subsidiary, SAS Ireland, to operate from the two new bases and submitted an application to the Irish authorities for an AOC. It has recruited a management team and is in the process of hiring cabin crew and pilots through an external agency. The first flights from SAS' first bases outside Scandinavia are planned for the start of winter 2017/2018.

Málaga is SAS' biggest leisure destination and Heathrow is its biggest airport outside Scandinavia. In both markets the LCC competition is strong - in Heathrow's case on a city pair basis. Málaga seems a fairly obvious choice, but Heathrow's high charges and congestion might have pushed SAS to choose a different London airport. It seems that SAS does not wish to alienate its core London customers, but will still benefit from the lower labour costs that are available almost anywhere in Europe outside Scandinavia.

SAS' move is unusual for a legacy airline, demonstrating new creative thinking spurred by competitor disruption.

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