Scandinavian Airlines System, now SAS AB, was founded in 1946 when the flag carriers of Denmark, Sweden and Norway formed a partnership to handle intercontinental traffic to Scandinavia. The companies then started coordination of European operations in 1948 and finally merged to form the current SAS Consortium in 1951.
SAS is currently the leading carrier in the Nordic countries, and is also a founding member of the Star Alliance. It operates out of two primary hubs, the Stockholm-Arlanda Airport and the Copenhagen Airport in Kastrup. Oslo Airport is serviced mainly with connections from the Swedish and Danish SAS hubs. The SAS fleet has 130 aircraft.
The airline has three fully owned subsidiaries, Braathens and Widerĝe in Norway and Blue1 in Finland. It also owns 49% stakes in Spanair and Estonian Air. In 2003, the Snowflake brand name, which operates discount-fare routes, was launched. In 2001, SAS and its subsidiaries transported a total of 36 million passengers.
The worst accident of SAS happened in 2001 in Milan, Italy, when its McDonnell Douglas MD-87 plane collided with a small Cessna jet during take-off and left 114 people dead. It has been established that the cause of the accident was a misunderstanding between air traffic controllers and the Cessna jet, and that the SAS crew had no role in causing the accident.