Following the recent period of events involving aircraft of the Dash 8 Q400 type, SAS’s management, following an unscheduled meeting of the Board of Directors held today, has decided to immediately discontinue the use of this type of aircraft.
“Confidence in the Q400 has diminished considerably and our customers are becoming increasingly doubtful about flying in this type of aircraft. Accordingly, with the Board of Directors’ approval, I have decided to immediately remove Dash 8 Q400 aircraft from service,” says Mats Jansson, President and Chief Executive Officer of SAS.
In January 2000, SAS was the first customer to use the Dash 8 Q400 in its traffic operations. The aircraft have accounted for approximately 5 percent of the Group’s passengers. The aim is to replace traffic based on the Q400 by reallocating current aircraft in the SAS Group’s fleet and by means of leasing.
“The Dash 8 Q400 has given rise to repeated quality-related problems and we can now conclude that the aircraft does not match our passengers’ requirements concerning punctuality and regularity. SAS’s flight operations have always enjoyed an excellent reputation and there is a risk that use of the Dash 8 Q400 could eventually damage the SAS brand,” says John Dueholm, Deputy CEO of SAS.
Due to the decision, SAS’s traffic services will be affected by flight cancellations in the period immediately ahead. The customers concerned will be given an opportunity to either rebook or have their tickets refunded. For detailed information about traffic services, reference is made to www.sas.dk
The aircraft operates on Danish and Swedish domestic as well as on European routes. In addition, it is operated by Widerøe in Norway.
In total 27 aircraft of SAS Group fleet of 303 aircraft are affected, accounting for approx 5% of total aircraft seat capacity.
SAS Group will do everything possible to mitigate the negative consequences for the passengers. Short and medium term SAS will take the following actions to handle the replacement of the Q400 fleet (with estimated time frame)
1. Review of network and reallocation of aircraft capacity within the SAS group (0-3 months)
2. External wet lease capacity (0-1 month)
3. External dry lease capacity (3-6 months)
In parallel, work has already been initiated how to replace the aircraft type long term. SAS expect to start to implement a long-term solution by second half of 2008.
SAS Group is in dialog with Bombardier regarding possible solutions regarding the current situation for the Q400 fleet including compensation.
Statement by Bombardier
Bombardier is disappointed with the SAS decision to permanently discontinue flight operations with the Bombardier Q400 aircraft given that the landing incident is still under investigation by Danish authorities.
While SAS chose to ground its Q400 turboprop fleet following the incident on October 27, 2007, Bombardier’s assessment of this situation, in consultation with Transport Canada, did not identify a systemic landing gear issue. Based on this we advised all Q400 aircraft operators that they should continue with normal Q400 aircraft flight operations. Further, Bombardier and the landing gear manufacturer, Goodrich, have completed a full review of the Q400 turboprop landing gear system and results have confirmed its safe design and operational integrity.
Bombardier stands behind the Q400 aircraft. Since entering revenue service in February 2000, the Q400 turboprop has proven itself to be a safe and reliable aircraft with over 150 Q400 aircraft in operation among 22 operators around the world. To date, the fleet of Q400 aircraft has logged over one million flying hours and 1.2 million take-off and landing cycles.
It will be interesting to see which aircraft type will be used as replacement.