New EU rules open Sweden’s airspace

Flights are now permitted across the whole of Sweden, with new rules in place for flights in the EU-wide risk zone two. This means that Stockholm-Arlanda, Bromma and Malmö remained open overnight.

New EU rules open Sweden's airspace

The latest reports from Iceland indicate that the volcano remains stable.

“The new rules mean that all of Sweden’s airspace is now open to certificated airlines,” said Susanne Rundström, at airport operator Swedavia.

Arlanda and Bromma airports in Stockholm, Landvetter and Säve in Gothenburg, Örnsköldsvik, Skellefteå, Sundsvall, Härnösand, Västerås, Umeå, Borlänge are all within the risk zones two or three, established after a meeting of EU transport ministers last Tuesday to harmonize EU skies.

This mean that all airspace in Sweden is served by airlines with the correct permits.

The Swedish Transport Agency (Transportstyrelsen) has decided to amend recommendations to enable more flights to take place – even through the ash cloud. The three zones are now incorporated into Swedish airspace, to replace the previous two.

Furthermore flights will be allowed even in locations classified within zone two, where some ash is present, making it possible to fly in a much larger part of the sky.

The Swedish rules are adapted to the EU, where zone one means a total flight ban, zone two has some flight restrictions and zone three is ash-free. In order to fly in zone two airlines must now hold a special licence, flight must be time limited, and additional checks of engines and windows must be undertaken.

The Eyjafjallajökull volcano in southern Iceland remained stable on Thursday, although the eruption remains ongoing, according to the Icelandic authorities.

“The plume of ash remains low and the quakes have not increased,” said a spokesperson for the Icelandic rescue service.

On Wednesday, seismologists said that the plume had declined to “negligible” levels, but volcanic ash forced the Icelanders to close Reykjavik airport on Thursday, for the first time since the eruption began last week.

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SAS remains in the red as pandemic squeezes airlines

Scandinavian airline SAS reported Thursday a wider quarterly loss, driven by the Covid-19 pandemic, but said it hoped things would improve in the summer as vaccines roll out.

SAS remains in the red as pandemic squeezes airlines
An SAS plane at Oslo's Gardermoen airport in December. Photo: Stian Lysberg Solum/NTB/TT


For its first quarter — November to January — SAS booked a net loss of 2.05 billion Swedish kronor ($249 million, 204 million euros), compared to a loss of 861 million Swedish kronor a year earlier, the company said.
Revenue, reflecting the drop in traffic, plunged 77 percent year-on-year to 2.28 billion Swedish kronor.
The number of passengers fell to just under one million, over five million less than the same period a year before and a drop of 900,000 compared to the preceding quarter.
The carrier has already laid off 5,000 staff — 40 percent of its workforce — having in March furloughed 90 percent.
The company's CEO, Rickard Gustafson, announced last month his departure after ten years at the head of SAS, to take over as head of the Swedish ball-bearing maker SKF.
“In general, restrictions are currently more stringent than they were in spring 2020,” Gustafson, due to be replaced by July, said.
Gustafson said the arrival of vaccines gave “hope that restrictions will ease and that we will see an increase in travel toward summer 2021.”
The company said it was preparing for the potential resumption of flights on 180 routes, “provided that the prevailing travel restrictions will allow people to travel.”
But SAS still said it expected that “demand is most likely to remain highly limited in the foreseeable future,” with more normal levels returning only in 2022.