Chief executive of Scandinavian carrier SAS, Anko van der Werff, sees no light at the end of the tunnel at present when it comes to the impact on its Asian flights from the ongoing closure of Russian airspace following the invasion of Ukraine more than two years ago.

As an airline located in northern Europe, SAS has been among the hardest hit carriers by the ban on overflying Russia imposed by many countries following its invasion of Ukraine.

SAS A350-c-SAS

Source: SAS

”For us its between two and a half and three and a half hours additional one-way on every Asian flight,” explained van der Werff during a press briefing during the IATA AGM in Dubai.

”We were roughly three times to three and a half times [bigger] to Asia before Covid and the subsequent Russian airspace closure. That tells you something about the magnitude of the impact for us,” he says.

”We do put some frequencies back this year, one more to Shanghai, one more to Tokyo,” van der Werff adds. “But in the bigger scheme of things, prior to this we were three, three and half times as big [to Asia]. So [it’s had a] tremendous impact, [and] with current fuel pricing with a very low Swedish Krona, it’s tough to make that work.

”There is no light at the end of the tunnel for when those things may change, so that will remain for the industry as a whole – and certainly for SAS being so high in northern Europe, it will remain a challenge,” he adds.