It’s not an easy time to be in the travel industry (just ask UK tour operator Thomas Cook, which went bust this week) but it’s especially tricky if you’re an airline based in northern Europe. Here the concept of flygskam, Swedish for “flying shame”, is taking off amid a growing public backlash against the environmental impact of aviation. Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) has reacted by investing in its image and new planes, firm in its belief that it can be an enabler of democracy and freedom, not just a polluter. “We should never forget the true value of aviation,” CEO and president Rickard Gustafson told Monocle 24’s The Globalist. “Open society is dependent on the fact that people can meet, be inspired by each other.” Good point.
The Scandinavian flag-carrier unveiled a fresh livery as part of a broader shift in a more sustainable direction. The subtle rebrand will debut with the airline’s first new long-haul A350 (delivered later this year) alongside dozens of new A320neos that are joining the fleet. SAS says the new craft will cut fuel consumption by 18 per cent, be quieter and offer better comfort for customers. It’s this, rather than a splash of blue on the tailfin, that will help the airline industry in the dogfight it’s facing.