On April 8, SACC-San Francisco/Silicon Valley organizational sponsor SAS celebrated the one year anniversary of the launch of their Copenhagen-San Francisco route. The new route marked the return of the Scandinavian flag carrier to the U.S. west coast after almost four years of hiatus, having previously served Los Angeles until April 1994 and Seattle until July 2009.

SAS’s decision to “go west” has proven to be a great success as the airline continues to ramp up its flight schedules to meet the ever increasing demand for air transportation between the United States, Scandinavia and beyond. In addition to the San Francisco flight, SAS is continuing to augment flight frequency to New York and Chicago and recently announced the upcoming launch of a new route from Stavanger, Norway, to Houston, which will no doubt be much welcomed by businessmen in the oil and gas sectors.

Commenting on the launch of the Copenhagen-SFO route, SAS president and CEO Richard Gustafsson highlighted the airline’s longstanding experience connecting Europe and the United States: “SAS has been flying to the USA for over 60 years and we have a good understanding of what customers need when they fly long-haul … San Francisco is an attractive destination in itself, but the city is also the ideal starting point for the west coast and many other U.S. destinations in the Star Alliance network.”

Helge Viking, 1954
In fact, it was by connecting Europe and the U.S. west coast, through initiating the transpolar route, that the SAS success story began. On November 15, 1954, SAS aircraft “Helge Viking," a Douglas DC-6B, embarked on the first commercial flight over the North Pole. Destined for Los Angeles, the flight took off from Copenhagen airport carrying 44 passengers, including the three Scandinavian prime ministers of the time: Hans Hedtoft (Denmark), Tage Erlander (Sweden) and Oscar Torp (Norway). Stops were made at Søndre Strømfjord in southwest Greenland and at Winnipeg, Canada. “Helge Viking” touched American soil at Los Angeles International Airport in the evening of November 16, with a delay of only three minutes. The total flying time was 24 hours and 13 minutes.

Shortcutting the California-Europe route by some thousand kilometers, the new SAS route became highly popular with Hollywood celebrities, the film industry and American tourists, making the transpolar flight a great publicity coup in the late 1950s. Now, in these post millennial times, there is a new synergy growing between Scandinavia, Europe and the United States. The stars of our time, especially in Scandinavia and the Bay Area, are no longer the actors on the screen but the entrepreneurs in the start-ups. By connecting two of the most innovative areas of the world, the new SAS route allows for the transportation of creative ideas and contributes to greater economic trade and knowledge exchange between the two regions.

On its non-stop transatlantic flights, SAS offers wide-body Airbus A330 and A340 aircraft, audio/video entertainment at every seat and EuroBonus frequent flyer points. For the past three years, SAS was ranked Europe’s most punctual airline according to flightstats.com.
To book travel, please visit: www.flysas.com/us
By Sofia Englund