Northern Lights Newsreel: British Airways, Lufthansa Group & SAS Expand Frequencies Beyond the Arctic Circle


It appears that Lapland is the buzz of this week as European airlines announce new flights to the region one after the other. Alliance-switcher SAS started by announcing 3 new routes to the region, promptly followed by the Lufthansa Group. Finnair couldn’t take the embarrassment and expanded winter flight selection, while its Oneworld partner, British Airways came to the rescue by facing SAS in a head-to-head competition.

SAS Adds Copenhagen to Kiruna & Rovaniemi and London to Tromsø

Scandinavian Airlines will boost SkyTeam‘s connectivity to Kiruna in Swedish- and Rovaniemi in Finnish Lapland via Copenhagen starting in the winter 2024 season. The announcement came as part of a winter season announcement, which also included additional frequencies, long-haul adjustments and new flights from the creatively named Scandinavian Mountains Airport (SCR, far from the Arctic Circle). The most interesting addition is a new route between Tromsø and London.

The flights to Kiruna and Rovaniemi are advantageous for the airline, as passengers will be able to connect from Europe, North America and Asia to have a brief visit with Santa Claus or to do whatever Kiruna is famous for (mining rare Earth materials probably?). The flight from London to Tromsø is strategically more interesting, as it’s likely to feed Delta’s and Virgin Atlantic’s North American routes in addition to point-to-point traffic. These routes should be good news for passengers both in Europe and North America, as further competition will likely reduce prices. In addition, SAS has frequent sales and youth fares, making point-to-point and European itineraries cheaper.

The airline will operate Airbus A320 family aircraft on all three routes, with the following schedules:

Show new SAS routes

Copenhagen – Kiruna


  • SK 2898: Copenhagen CPH 14:45 – Kiruna KRN 17:10
  • SK 2899: Kiruna KRN 17:55 – Copenhagen CPH 20:10


  • SK 2898: Copenhagen CPH 15:45 – Kiruna KRN 18:10
  • SK 2899: Kiruna KRN 18:50 – Copenhagen CPH 21:05


  • SK 2898: Copenhagen CPH 10:55 – Kiruna KRN 13:20
  • SK 2899: Kiruna KRN 14:00 – Copenhagen CPH 16:15

Copenhagen – Rovaniemi


  • SK 1988: Copenhagen CPH 14:15 – Rovaniemi RVN 17:45
  • SK 1989: Rovaniemi RVN 18:30 – Copenhagen CPH 20:00


  • SK 1988: Copenhagen CPH 10:10 – Rovaniemi RVN 13:40
  • SK 1989: Rovaniemi RVN 14:20 – Copenhagen CPH 15:50

Tromsø – London

  • SK 4447: Tromsø TOS 06:50 – London Heathrow LHR 09:35 (Sundays)
  • SK 4448: London Heathrow LHR 15:35 – Tromsø TOS 19:55 (Saturdays)

Austrian and Lufthansa Target Finnish Lapland

Lufthansa was among the first foreign airlines to fly to the Finnish Lapland, opening a Kittilä to Munich route in 2015. Since then, the airline and its Group partners expanded throughout the region. For example, last year Austrian started Rovaniemi, while the main brand started year-round flights to Oulu. The German based conglomerate continues to connect the dots between the German-Austrian-Switzerland region and Northern Finland: This time, Austrian Airlines starts a new route between Vienna and Ivalo, while Lufthansa connects Rovaniemi and Frankfurt.

Show new Lufthansa Group routes

Frankfurt – Rovaniemi

  • LH 852: Frankfurt FRA 08:50 – Rovaniemi RVN 12:50 (Saturdays)
  • LH 853: Rovaniemi RVN 13:50 – Frankfurt FRA 15:50 (Saturdays)

Vienna – Ivalo

  • OS 339: Vienna VIE 09:30 – Ivalo IVL 14:05 (Saturdays)
  • OS 340: Ivalo IVL 15:05 – Vienna VIE 17:35 (Saturdays)

For Finland’s troubled economy, tourism may be a shining beacon. However, Lapland tourism has been in the development phase for a while. The Santa theme park with a fake Arctic Circle mark (the real one goes through the airport) is a good example of Finnish attitude: it’s not very pushy like most big theme parks, but it’s cool and cozy. However, there hasn’t been much progress in expanding the tourist season (December) to the other 11 months, except for the Kittilä ski tracks.

Rovaniemi Airport and Finavia‘s Route Network Development Team, however, bagged some huge victories in the past years: Ryanair started operations, already present airlines expanded their presence, charter flights secured, and now Lufthansa Group added lots of connectivity with the new route to Frankfurt as well. The downside of this news is that Discover Airlines takes over Lufthansa’s flights to Kittilä, which is an undeniable downgrade.

Discover Airlines - Airbus A320
Discover Airlines Airbus A320 – nobody prefers them over a Lufthansa jet.

British Airways Challenges SAS with London to Tromsø Route, Finnair Adds Frequencies

Members of the Oneworld alliance seemingly dislike how competitors bring international travellers closer to Lapland. While Finnair’s tame response came in form of a minimal frequency addition between its Helsinki hub and Rovaniemi, British Airways decided to embrace head-to-head competition with SAS: The airline adds a nonstop service from London to Tromsø. Most curiously, they did not choose to set up a rotation from Gatwick, as BA usually does to leisure-heavy destinations. They want to offer Northern Norway to their extensive network by connecting it with Heathrow.

Direct competition is good for everyone, except the environment and airlines’ pockets. Passengers, especially from North America will benefit from efficient connections via London. The flight runs twice-weekly on Thursdays and Sundays, with the Sunday flight running 10-15 minutes earlier.

  • BA 612: London Heathrow LHR 08:25 – Tromsø TOS 13:00
  • BA 613: Tromsø TOS 14:00 – London Heathrow LHR 16:45


European airlines operate on a highly seasonal model, especially for short- and medium-haul flights. They have long tried different winter destinations with various degrees of success. It appears that Lapland is the next target, with three countries racing to attract tourists: Finland with plenty of cities and Santa Claus, Norway with its focus on Tromsø (which is more hospitable than other Nordic cities) and Sweden with its… rare earth materials, apparently. All three countries come with the added bonus of almost perpetual darkness during these months. Yet, passengers and therefore airlines seem to bite this time, even if only for December and onwards.

Cover Picture: Photo by Lightscape on Unsplash

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