Star Alliance member Scandinavian Airlines, commonly known as SAS, is launching two new airlines-within-an-airline (Danish). They will both operate under the SAS brand, and won’t be marketed differently to consumers. However they’ll be separate companies with separate operating certificates.
- SAS Connect is simply a renaming of SAS Ireland. No longer needing to exclusively base there, they’ll open a base in Copenhagen. This will be a lower cost carrier focused on competitive leisure routes using Airbus A320neo aircraft.
- SAS Link is new and will operate Embraer E-195 jets beginning mid-2022. This will be their feeder carrier.
The rebranding of SAS Ireland avoids confusion, though the differences between Connect and Link are not obvious from their brands. Circa 1996 I flew Delta Express, thinking I was going to be on a regional jet rather than the airlines low cost carrier within-a-carrier that preceded Song – because to me “Express” meant feeder airline, rather than the brilliant idea to mimic Continental Lite right after that carrier folded.
As Danish travel site Final Call Travel notes, the use of separate subsidiaries creates conflict with employees,
Not least, the unions believe that this is primarily done to avoid taking back the many employees who chose to go on leave during the Corona crisis and not least to push wages and employment conditions in a negative direction for the employees.
SAS recently combined its various operations (“SAS Denmark, SAS Norway, SAS Sweden and SAS intercont”) into a single unified airline and merged “SAS Commuter” into the main carrier. Now they’re disaggregating again, and the wholly-owned ‘commuter’ operation appears to be Link. SAS also partners with regional carriers flying turboprops and regional jets.
Nonetheless all of their flights will be marketed under the SAS brand and should therefore remain accessible within the Star Alliance.