Scandinavian Airlines to end service between Seattle and Copenhagen, Denmark

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Another sign of the economic hard times: Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) will end its service between Seattle and Copenhagen after 42 years flying the nonstop route.

In a memo sent to Seattle travel agents, the airline said it will stop flying sometime later in the year, but didn’t set a specific date.

“We’re disappointed,” Seattle-Tacoma International Airport spokesman Perry Cooper said Wednesday. “They are our oldest foreign-flagged carrier.”

SAS currently flies five days a week between Seattle and Copenhagen, and will add a sixth day in May through the end of summer. It carried about 137,000 passengers through Sea-Tac airport last year, 4.7 percent of Seattle’s international passenger traffic.

Sveneric Persson, an SAS vice president, said in the memo that the Sweden-based airline has been “severely affected by the current recession,” and is restructuring to focus more on business travel and on travel within Scandinavia. SAS spokesman Thomas Fredo said the airline hasn’t yet determined when it will end service, but it’s likely to be sometime between November of this year and April, 2010.

The loss won’t have the effect it might have had a few years ago, Cooper said, because other airlines have stepped in with nonstop fights between Seattle and Europe.

Northwest flies daily between Seattle and Amsterdam; British Airways flies between Seattle and London; Air France flies between Seattle and Paris; and Lufthansa flies between Seattle and Frankfurt.

Still, said Suzy Smith, owner of Lake City Travel and Cruises, “it’s going to impact us tremendously. It’s not going to make a lot of business travelers happy, that’s for sure.”

Smith said she was “shocked” to hear the news, because the Seattle SAS flights fly full most of the time.

“We’ve known for years how popular this route is. We had no clue it was even being discussed.”

SAS said it would continue to offer connections to Copenhagen from Seattle via Chicago, Newark and Washington, D.C.

Carol Pucci: