Posted on 10/20/2015

Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) announced Monday it would be stopping flights to Israel as of March 2016. SAS has been operating direct, weekly flights between Tel Aviv and Copenhagen since June 2012. It also said it would no longer be flying to Moscow and Ankara.  

An airline spokesperson said that despite the success of the Israel route which grew by 41 percent in 2014, the company was forced to cancel it during the summer schedule due to technical difficulties, relating to the availability of medium-range planes during the upcoming summer, and the high expenses of flight crews for the evening flights as scheduled for Tel Aviv. A spokesperson said, “as of summer 2015 – despite the growth in demand – the company was forced to reduce the frequency of the red-eye flights from Tel Aviv to Copenhagen. The matter was solved for winter 2015-2016, as the route’s hours were changed to daytime. But that same move will not work for the schedule of summer 2016.”  Local media also reported that a spokesperson said, "The route to Tel Aviv is expensive to operate and is under tough competition and we do not have sufficient profitability to continue to operate it. We can also see that the political instability affects the route."

 SAS reportedly want to focus on opening routes to new destinations in Europe and the US – like Copenhagen-Boston.  Some questioned whether Scandinavian Airlines’ decision was related to recent political issues between Israel and Sweden.  Sweden's recognition of Palestine last year caused tension between the two countries.  Swedish financial institutions boycotted Israeli companies and Israel temporarily withdrew its ambassador from Stockholm. Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom indefinitely postponed a planned trip to Israel with Israel claiming later that Wallstrom was not welcome for an official visit in the country.

 In July 2014 several airlines, including  U.S. Airways, Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Germanwings and Swiss Airlines, Delta and United, halted flights to and from Israel following a rocket strike in the area.