SAS Scandinavian Airlines Ireland (SL, London Heathrow) has commenced commercial operations after having secured its Air Operator's Certificate (AOC) from the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) earlier this week.

The SAS Scandinavian Airlines (SK, Copenhagen Kastrup) unit's maiden commercial flight operated on Wednesday, December 20, as SK 503 Copenhagen Kastrup-London Heathrow. Service was on-board its only aircraft at present, A320neo EI-SIA (msn 7897).

In its latest 4Q17 earnings report, SAS said its Irish unit's London Heathrow base would be equipped with a total of six A320neo of which four are to be in traffic in early 2018. It will operate ~65% of SAS flights to/from London and of that percentage, the vast majority of services will be from Heathrow to Scandinavia (85%) with the remaining 15% to be operated on SAS routes within Scandinavia or from Scandinavia to other destinations.

For its part, SAS Ireland's Malaga, Spain, base is expected to open during the first half of 2018 with three based A320neo. In terms of operations, it will undertake about 80% of its flights to/from the Spanish leisure resort with the based aircraft with the other 20% allocated to other SAS routes.

Overall, the Irish carrier will enable its Scandinavian parent to remain cost-competitive in key mainland European business and leisure markets where it has struggled with the influx of low-cost operators such as Norwegian, Ryanair, and easyJet.

"The bases will complement production in Scandinavia, which will continue to account for the main share of our business," it said. "Production occurs primarily on the routes between Scandinavia and the UK, and between Scandinavia and Spain. To optimize resources, marginal production from the bases will also be run on other routes."