Oil workers rejoice! Your safety-minded employers who, where possible, prohibit flight transfers can breathe a sigh of relief. SAS will launch an all-business class service between Houston (IAH) and Stavanger (SVG) starting 20th August 2014, just days ahead one of Norway's largest Oil and Gas conferences.
Tickets go on sale on 29th April 2014, and the new service will be operated on modified Boeing 737-700 which will have a 44 seat capacity. It is currently scheduled to fly 6 times per week i.e. daily except Saturdays in both directions, so departures from IAH will be at 21:35hrs and arriving at SVG at 14:20hrs the following day. From SVG to IAH they will depart at 16:00hrs and arrive at 19:40hrs on the same day.
Now, there are a couple of interesting things to note about this route in terms of miles and points. Firstly, SAS is a fantastic operating carrier to credit your mileage to Aegean Airlines (I wrote a more detailed post just last week), giving 600 miles minimum per sector, 100% credit in deep discount economy and 200% credit in business class. As this new SVG-IAH route clocks up 4844 miles according to GCMap, it means you can hit Star Alliance Gold in one return trip.
Secondly, if you happen to work in the Oil and Gas business, you should read an article I wrote last year which introduced Flying Blue Petroleum and Lufthansa's Oil&Energy Club. Lufthansa's offering also gives you Frequent Traveller status which is equivalent to Star Alliance Silver. The benefit here is that if you fly on a Lufthansa operated flight you can also use their lounge. You will not be able to take a guest in however.
All in all, I'd say this is great news and adds genuine diversity to Star Alliance's portfolio. Though I hope this route works out better than Aberdeen, UK to Groningen, The Netherlands…a massive loss-making oil route operated by BMI Regional which mostly flew on empty planes and was subsequently discontinued in early 2013. This 447 mile journey used to cost around €800-1000 r/t at its cheapest!
(hat tip: Ghetto IFE)