Scandinavian airline SAS changes Asia services due to Russia flight ban

Scandinavian airline SAS has suspended its route from Copenhagen to Japanese capital Tokyo and rerouted its service to Chinese city Shanghai due to the ban on EU aircraft from Russian airspace.

SAS aircraft on the tarmac at CPH airport
SAS has suspended its direct route between Copenhagen and Tokyo. File photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

The SAS flight from Copenhagen to Tokyo is to be suspended until May 1st, Danish aviation media Check-in reports.

The 8,730-kilometre route, which normally takes 10 hours and 25 minutes, cannot viably be diverted around Russian airspace, the airline has decided.

SAS is to continue its Copenhagen-Shanghai service, meanwhile, although this flight will be diverted.

The 9 hour, 33 minute flight time for the journey will be longer due to the route being extended to avoid Russian airspace.

“We have decided to reroute the flight to Shanghai and fly south around Russia, which means a longer flight time,” SAS head of media relations Alexandra Lindgren told Check-in.

The new route will go over Kazakhstan and take just over 11 hours, the media writes.

The Central Asian country’s aviation authority has reported a three-fold increase in the number of flights over its western airspace in recent days, to 450 flights.

The EU, UK, Canada and United States have all banned Russian aircraft from entering their airspace in response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, while Russia has reciprocated the ban against 36 countries and territories including the entire EU.

READ ALSO: What do Russia flight bans mean for international travel from Denmark?

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Copenhagen Airport passengers warned of more queues on holiday weekends

Long queues were reported at Copenhagen Airport during last week’s extended public holiday weekend and similar issues are likely during two more upcoming holidays.

Copenhagen Airport passengers warned of more queues on holiday weekends

Staff shortages at security checks, caused by a lengthy rehiring process following the Covid-19 crisis, have been blamed for crowds and long queues at Copenhagen Airport during peak times this spring.

Long waiting times at security were reported both Thursday and Sunday at Copenhagen Airport, resulting in a significant number of passengers missing flights, broadcaster DR writes.

The airport’s commercial director Peter Krogsgaard told DR that Copenhagen is not alone in experiencing problems with queues.

“Copenhagen Airport and all airports in Europe have had a lot to do in re-hiring and training many employees after corona,” Krogsgaard said.

“We are therefore seeing that, now passengers are coming back and fortunately want to travel again, we are under a bit of pressure to begin with,” he said.

This means that passengers planning to travel during two more upcoming peak times – the public holidays on Ascension Day (Thursday May 26th) and Pentecost (Monday June 6th) – should brace themselves for lengthy queues at the airport.

Up to 70,000 passengers are expected during the first of the two public holidays, according to Copenhagen Airport.

“We expect to be very busy and are therefore advising all passengers travelling within Europe to arrive two hours before their flight. If you are going to outside of Europe, to the Unites States or Asia, you should come three hours before,” Krogsgaard told DR.

Passengers have few options should they miss flights due to long waits at security, a consumer rights consultant said to DR.

“You are in a very bad situation if you get to the airport too late in relation to the waiting times there actually are at security, because it’s your own responsibility to get to the airport in time to make the flight,” Vagn Jelsøe, senior consultant with the Danish Consumer Council (Forbrugerrådet Tænk), said to DR.

The airport expects to be fully staffed by the beginning of June, DR reports.

“Since January, we’ve done nothing other than hire a lot of new people and they must be trained and educated, and it takes some time for them to get to the security lanes,” Krogsgaard also said.

Airline SAS last week said it would cancel around 4,000 flights over the summer. The decision was made due to staff shortages combined with delayed deliveries of new aeroplanes, SAS said.