Will SAS’s Plan to End Duty Free Sales Actually Help the Planet?

Jun 6, 2019

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Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) will end on-board duty free sales across all its flights, a move the carrier said was as part of a push to cut emissions by 25% by 2030.

“Withdrawing tax-free sales will reduce the overall weight of the aircraft, which in turn will reduce fuel consumption and emissions,” SAS said in a Tuesday statement. “Tax-free sales have long been a popular service onboard our flights amongst passengers who have used it, but our passengers’ buying behavior has changed and sustainability has become more important than ever before – for both our passengers and SAS.”

The company tied the move to environmental concerns.

“SAS is aiming to cut emissions by at least 25 percent by 2030. Every step on the way to sustainable travel is important. Every initiative to reduce weight and thereby cut fuel consumption helps,” Karl Sandlund, EVP Commercial at SAS, added in the statement.

The Associated Press notes the change at SAS follows increased domestic competition for the Swedish airline from SJ, the nation’s railway operator. In a recent survey, SJ found that more than half of people surveyed considered the environmental impacts of their transportation while booking travel, making trains look like the more appealing option for these passengers compared to driving or flying. SJ also reported that 37% of consumers they surveyed would pick trains over planes given the option, nearly twice as much as two years ago, according to AP.

Facing a decline of 3% in passenger numbers in the past year amid increased pressure from environmentally minded travelers, SAS says the weight-saving change is just one of many environmental initiatives the company is undertaking, including investing in a more-efficient fleet and research in bio-fuels and hybrid-electric aircraft.

Featured image: Photo: Ole Berg-Rusten/AFP/Getty Images. 

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