In the world of niche routes the all-business class flight between Houston and Stavanger, Norway is towards the top of the list. At least for the next 5 weeks until is ceases operation, 14 months after launching. The flight operates on a PrivatAir 737 with 40 business class seats on board; it is a great way to make the hop across the Atlantic but there are just too few people (and companies) paying for that trip these days.
As a consequence of reduced activity in the oil industry, SAS has experienced a severe decrease in demand and thus passenger loads on the Stavanger Houston route. Hence, SAS no longer has sound commercial grounds for continuing this niche route.
“The oil route came out of creative and constructive product development between SAS and our core clients in the oil industry. We have done all we can to make it viable, however, we have had to accept that the downturn in the industry unfortunately is also impacting us, hence our decision to switch the aircraft to Copenhagen-New York, where the market offers far more potential right now,” says Eivind Roald, Executive Vice President Commercial at SAS.
The 737 will continue to fly in service for SAS, adding a second frequency between Copenhagen and Newark 6x weekly (x2). It will be reconfigured at the end of the year to a mixed class configuration with 6 rows of business class removed and 11 rows of economy class put in. The new layout of 86 seats (20/66) will also remain the only 737 scheduled to fly between the US and Europe and also the only smaller aircraft with economy class from the US to Europe.
And, most unfortunately, I don’t think I can get away for a few days to squeeze in a quick trip on the route.
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