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SAS starts big fleet renewal


SAS has put in a big order—50 A320-neos—with Airbus in a move that's both a sign of better financial times for the Scandinavian flag carrier and a step toward saving money by simplifying its fleet.

The airline will use the new planes to begin phasing out first its Boeing 737s, and then the existing mix of A320s and A319s. There are three different 737 models in SAS's fleet. By 2023, SAS expects to be flying its European routes with only the A320-neo.

Intercontinental flights will continue to use A330 and A340 planes, but they may be replaced by 14 A350-900s now on order or on option.

Simplifying fleet types saves on crew training and parts stocking, and makes it easier to swap out planes when necessary. That was a factor in American Airlines' recent decision to cancel an A350 order which would have added a type, and to go with more 787s instead.

A number of large airlines have standardized on a single type; Southwest in the U.S. and Ryanair in Europe are all-737 fleets, as was Alaska Airlines until its recent purchase of all A320 Virgin America.

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