The SAS Group has placed an order for 30 Airbus A320neos an optioned an additional 11, with its first delivery scheduled for the second...

The SAS Group has placed an order for 30 Airbus A320neos and optioned an additional 11, with its first delivery scheduled for the second half of 2016 and delivery of the 30th aircraft during 2019.

SAS Group has chosen the CFM International LEAP-X1A engine to power its Airbus A320neos, becoming the second customer for the new engine after Virgin America. CFM International values SAS Group’s LEAP-X1A firm order at $710 million.

“This aircraft order … is a significant and important step in our renewal and harmonization of our aircraft fleet,” says Göran Jansson, deputy president & CFO of SAS Group. “Through this, we will operate with the market’s most efficient and environmental friendly short- and medium-distance aircraft from 2016.”

SAS Group has ordered 30 Airbus A320neos, as well as optioning 11 more, and will take delivery of the aircraft from 2016 to 2019. They will replace leased A320s which SAS is going to lease from 2014 to replace MD-80s based at Copenhagen. SAS becomes the second carrier to order A320neos with CFM International's new LEAP-X1A engine, following close on the heels of Virgin America

SAS announced on April 11 that its fleet would be harmonized from 2015, revealing that it would lease 17 Boeing 737NGs from GE Capital Aviation Services to operate from its Oslo and Stockholm bases and would add an unspecified number of A320-family aircraft at its Copenhagen base. The 30 A320neos are part of that fleet-harmonization policy.

As part of the transition, SAS says it will replace all 17 of its Copenhagen-based MD-80s with leased Airbus A320s, a process to be completed by the end of 2014. The leased A320s will, in turn, be replaced from 2016 by the 30 Airbus A320neos.

Since SAS only operates 17 MD-80s and (on the face of it) these aircraft ultimately are to be replaced by 30 A320neo-family jets, SAS either is planning to grow its operations at Copenhagen substantially from 2016 or, as some  SAS insiders believe, the A320neos may also serve as replacements for the airline’s 12 existing A320-family aircraft – four of which (the A319s) were delivered in 2006 and 2007.

The SAS Group expects to finance the aircraft through a combination of leasing and loans.

All the MD-80s at the SAS base in Stockholm will be replaced by leased Boeing 737NGs, a process which will be completed during 2013. Additionally, all the Boeing 737 Classics at the SAS base in Oslo will be replaced by Boeing 737NGs and this will be completed by the end of 2014.

According to SAS, fuel consumption and carbon emissions per available passenger kilometers decreases by more than 20 per cent when a Boeing 737NG or an aircraft in the Airbus 320 family replaces an MD-80. The carrier also says that when a current A320 is replaced by an A320neo, the fuel consumption and carbon emissions per available seat kilometer will be reduced by an additional 15 per cent.

Based on Airbus list prices and before any discounts, the value of the firm order is approximately SEK 18 billion ($2.8 billion), according to SAS Group.

SAS (which operates as Scandinavian Airlines) has been a customer of Airbus since 1980 and today operates 23 Airbus aircraft, including seven A340-300s, four A330-300s, eight A321s and four A319s.