SAS backs away from CSeries as A320neo emerges

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SAS Group has ditched the Bombardier CSeries for its near-term fleet modernisation, but remains open to the Airbus A320neo as an option for replacing its Boeing MD-80s.

The Scandinavian company, which has undergone a broad operational restructuring, has been shedding its MD-80s and older Boeing 737s with a view to simplifying, by around 2016, the fleets stationed at Copenhagen, Oslo and Stockholm.

As part of this strategy it had considered the CSeries as an alternative to re-engined aircraft options from Airbus and Boeing.

But SAS says it will take more A320s after choosing to withdraw 17 MD-80s at Copenhagen, where its based fleet of 29 jets already includes 12 A320s.

It is also opting tentatively to acquire 17 737-700/800s from GECAS to replace another nine MD-80s and 11 older 737s at its Oslo and Stockholm bases.

This means the Bombardier CSeries is "not a possibility" under the current plan, says SAS Group investor relations head Sture Stølen. But he points out that the timing of the renewal does not rule out the A320neo as a possible option for part of the acquisition. "We're still open on that," he says.

Stølen says that while there is no final decision on the additional number of A320s to be acquired, the figure will be comparable with the current MD-80 fleet in the Danish capital.