Jet Fuel, Snow and a Swedish Fiasco: Flying the Saab 340 to Stockholm

Ever wondered what domestic flying in Sweden is like? Tag along on a proper Swedish adventure about flying the Saab 340 to Stockholm! This specific Saab 340 is flown by ‘Skåneflyg‘, a virtual airline. NyxAir, an Estonian charter airline, employs the crew and aircraft. The Saab 340 is the smaller brother of the longer and faster Saab 2000, which I already ticked off two years ago. 

Skåneflyg Saab 340 at Kristianstad
NyxAir’s Saab 340 with Skåneflyg titles slowing down at its home base Kristianstad © Author / Travel Radar

Three Hours of Travel Fun

My flight left at 11 in the morning. My alarm went off; I quickly had breakfast, packed my stuff, and still almost missed the bus. This should not be possible as you can literally see the bus’s location in the company’s app, but if you know me, this is pretty common. A good start to the day! I stepped down the stairs of the bus, and the small “Kristianstad Österlen Airport” lay in front of me.

It’s literally what you would expect from such a local airport. In the middle of a big field, a couple of hangars around and a tiny terminal. I had visited it for plane spotting before, so I knew that it was a cosy place with a typically Swedish interior. Birchwood everywhere, and a “forgotten” lit-up Christmas tree in the corner. There’s a small self-serve snack kiosk, which can only be used with the Swedish ” Swish ” payment system. I doubt the airport ever gets busy with only two flights a day to Stockholm.

The Saab, with registration ES-NSC, was already waiting for us in front of the tiny terminal. In my humble aviation opinion a beautiful aircraft, although I’m a little bit biased as I have a certain love for propellers. The small airport family worked together to prepare the plane for the one-hour hop to Stockholm, and boarding was soon announced. We were on board quicker than a Belgian can hold his mouth shut after someone says Swiss chocolate is better.

Skåneflyg airplane interior.
The Saab’s modern seats and retro interior. © Author / Travel Radar

I settled into my seat and had a full row to myself. One of the first things I noticed was the amount of legroom I had. My knees were not even touching the seat in front. As I’m not the smallest person at nearly two meters tall, this was very nice to experience for once! Our flight attendant Amanda later revealed these were the seats that are also installed in NyxAir’s Saab 2000 fleet, which explained why they looked so modern in contrast to the cabin’s retro feel.

The aircraft was spotless, but the overheads were extremely small, as is to be expected from a regional sized aircraft. Luckily the space beneath the seat in front of me was plenty to store my pretty big camera backpack.

A White Fairytale

Skåneflyg calls their aircraft “Humlan”, Swedish for Bumblebee. The engines quickly started buzzing as bumblebees do, and the murky fog that had been covering the surrounding hills quickly made way to beautifully bright skies above as the Saab lifted us above windy Österlen. We levelled off at 25,000ft, giving us a beautiful view of the Swedish countryside. As Western Europe made itself ready for spring, Sweden was not ready yet for nature’s reawakening. I noticed that the world became whiter and whiter as we flew north, which made me very excited to finally see Stockholm with snow. The fare included a drink and a small Swedish pastry—a lovely little personal touch.

The frozen lakes and white treetops beneath came closer with every passing minute as we slowly descended again. The Saab touched down smoothly in quite some serious crosswind while I was taking in the sunny and sparkling capital. Sun shining on the snow makes the world even brighter than normal. As is standard practice whenever I fly, I greeted the pilots up front, thanked the crew for the amazing service and stepped down the small airstairs into near-freezing temperatures. The wind cut into my face like a hundred razors, but I somehow enjoyed it. It wakes you up immediately.

Author in aircraft cockpit
The obligatory avgeek cockpit visit after landing in Stockholm Bromma © Author / Travel Radar

Time to do what any self-respecting aviation nerd would do when there’s time to spare at an airport, watch planes go by! The main upside of flying to a smaller airport is that you don’t have to walk that far to get to a spotting location. Fifteen minutes later, I was standing on the hill overlooking the entire airport. The downside? I had to barge through 30cm of snow to get there in my leather boots. Hiking boots would have been a better choice. Although, in my defence, I did not expect there to be that much white stuff when I checked the weather.

FlygBRA ATR aircraft at Bromma
A FlygBRA ATR on approach to Bromma with a beautiful effect from the snow. © Author / Travel Radar

Vintage Airplanes and Jazz

A wonderful night’s sleep and a hefty breakfast were needed for the day that followed. Arlanda was the next target, and I knew from experience that that always includes long walks. The bus that shuttles between Stockholm City and Arlanda had a stop almost right in front of the apartment I stayed in, so that was extremely handy. Luckily the route was only around 40 minutes. Before I knew it, I was overshadowed by the very modernist-looking Arlanda control tower—a gem in the often drab and boring airport buildings worldwide.

Some smooth Jazz, sunshine warming my face and the occasional thunder from jetliners taking off. For a moment there, I was the happiest person in Sweden. Arlanda really is a little treasure trove when it comes down to classic aircraft. I always say hi to the world’s only operational Sud Aviation Caravelle, which Le Caravelle Club is restoring. If you’re interested in the further restoration of this beauty, please consider a small gift to their organisation. If you’re lucky, you might also glimpse an abandoned Douglas DC-8, VP-BHM, stored at Arlanda since 2011.

Caravelle aircraft at Arlanda
Le Caravelle Club is currently restoring the only operational Caravelle in the world. © Author / Travel Radar

They all passed in front of my lens, from big triple sevens to small ATRs and everything in between. 29.000 steps and near-freezing temperatures resulted in a frozen and hungry author, but it was all worth it. The bus drove me back to the city for a beautiful sunset and dinner. From all the cities and all of the streets I’ve wandered through, Stockholm has to be my favourite when it comes to architecture and general atmosphere. Just like last time, it did not disappoint. I can strongly suggest the “Mariaberget” lookout path during nighttime for a breathtaking view.

Stockholm skyline by night
A breathtaking nighttime view over central Stockholm © Author / Travel Radar

A Swedish Treasure

On Sunday, I had a choice to make. My flight would take off at 17:50 back to Kristianstad, so I still had an entire day in front of me. Either I’d go to Arlanda again but waste a lot of time on the bus and walking, or I’d visit a museum dedicated to one of Sweden’s most famous failures. A medieval warship everyone has probably heard at least something about, “Vasa”.

Old Warship Vasa
The monstrous but elegant warship “Vasa”. © Author / Travel Radar

To give some context, she sank in the middle of Stockholm harbour in 1628 after having sailed for just a few kilometres. The reason? A bad centre of gravity as a result of two extremely heavy gun decks and too little ballast in the bottom of the ship. There is a lot more to the story, though. Hubris, a king, a Dutchman and more, but you’ll have to discover that in person.

Upon entering the huge hall where she is preserved, I froze for a few seconds. Her gargantuan size is really something out of this world, and during the two hours I spent walking around her, my jaw was on the floor non-stop. It’s something you can only experience in person, as photos do not do it justice.

The Museum of Wrecks is not as impressive as Vasa but absolutely worth a visit if you’re interested in history. It’s focussed on marine archaeology in the Baltic Sea and shines a light on several famous and well-preserved shipwrecks spread out across those waters. A combination ticket with Vasa made it hard to pass on.

I made a quick food stop at the Moderna Museet’s café Blom, a place I highly recommend. But as time ‘flew’ away, it was time to leave the cold but sunny Swedish capital. A bumblebee was waiting for me at Stockholm Bromma, eager to fly me back home to Skåne.

Buzzing Back Home

From my personal experience, Stockholm Bromma is a joy to fly from. It is a very comfortable airport built in an old aircraft hangar. The security checkpoint is always swift unless your flight coincides with one of the two/three daily Brussels Airlines flights, as they fill up the gate waiting area fast. Luckily this was not the case this time, and I was through in less than 5 minutes.

The boarding announcement echoed across the terminal, awakening the waiting passengers. I found myself walking through the boarding corridor and climbing up the narrow boarding stairs. The Saab was around 75% filled, which again, gave me an empty row to myself. With my luck, I chose the wrong side of the aircraft to see Stockholm during takeoff, missing out on some charming views.

flying in Sweden (saab 340 wing view)
The view the Author had on his return flight to Kristianstad. © Author / Travel Radar

Nearly all the white treetops and frozen lakes had disappeared, a sign that spring had finally landed in Sweden. We were again treated to the same great service as on my first leg, and descent was initiated. Kristianstad Österlen Airport was basking in the glowing red evening sun as we touched runway 19.

Kristianstad Airport
Kristianstad Österlen Airport basking in the sunlight after a busy day with 2 flights. © Author / Travel Radar

When I finally sat down on the bus stop’s cold bench, it was time to reflect on this beautiful but short trip. Frankly, this might be one of the last opportunities for me to fly the Saab 340 this close to where I live, as Skåneflyg will end their only route after midsummer—a dark cloud above an otherwise beautiful holiday in Sweden.

I’d like to thank the wonderful people at Skåneflyg who make this small operation a proper representation of Österlen. Friendly, hospitable and always with a smile. 

Have you ever flown Saab 340 To Stockholm or anywhere else? Please share your experience with us in the comments. 

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Aaron Vancoillie
Aaron Vancoillie
Photojournalist - Aaron is a Portugal-based reporter and photographer, with over five years experience in the aviation industry. Aaron has a passion for capturing flight inaugurations, trying out new airline routes, and flying on some of the rarest types of aircraft still in our skies