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Scandinavian Airlines stops duty free sales to cut emissions

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Faced with growing consumer concern about the climate impact of flying, Scandinavian Airlines said Tuesday it will stop selling duty-free goods on planes to reduce weight and save fuel as part of a wider range of measures to cut emissions.

While it's unclear how big an impact the halt to duty-free sales would have, the move reflects the pressure on airlines to become - or at least appear - more environmentally friendly. SAS, as the airline is known, aims to cut its emissions by at least 25% by 2030. Like other carriers, it is also using new, more fuel-efficient aircraft, but also turning more to biofuels and partnering with Airbus to develop electric and hybrid aircraft.

"Every step on the way to sustainable travel is important," said Freja Annamatz, company spokeswoman. She said "passengers' buying behavior has changed with fewer inflight sales and sustainability has become more important than ever before."

In the Nordic region in particular, consumers are becoming more aware of the climate impact of flying. Sweden's national railways operator, SJ, said last month that people are increasingly choosing to travel by train rather than plane or cars for climate reasons, citing a survey it had commissioned.

The survey, based on 1,000 interviews, showed that 57% of people think of the environment when traveling in Sweden, a country that stretches more than 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) from north to south. Some 37 % said they pick trains over planes when possible. By contrast, that figure was 20% in 2017 and 26% in late 2018.

"The fact that more people choose trains instead of flights and cars for climate reasons causes train travel to soar," said Tobbe Lundell of SJ. In 2018, the number of train trips increased by 1.5 million to 31.8 million, SJ said, adding that number continued to increase, by 8%, in the first quarter of 2019, compared with the same period a year earlier.

At the same time, domestic aviation declined sharply. Sweden's main airport operator, Swedavia, said the number of domestic passenger numbers last year drop by 3% year-on-year.

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