Last-chance SAS wage talks near goal

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12:22 CET+01:00
Seven of eight unions have reached agreements with troubled Scandinavian airline SAS to cut salaries and pensions and raise working hours in a bid to turn the company's dire financial situation around, SAS said on Monday.

"Seven out of eight unions have signed new agreements," the company said in a statement early on Monday, several hours after a midnight deadline set by the company expired.

"Negotiations continue," it added.

In order to stay afloat, SAS has reached an agreement to increase its existing 3.1 billion kronor ($457 million) revolving credit facility to 3.5 billion, provided by seven banks and the three Scandinavian governments -- Sweden, Denmark and Norway -- that together own 50 percent of the company.

The financing hinges however on reaching agreements with the unions and getting parliamentary approval for the plan.

The Danish cabin crew union was on Monday the only one that had not yet signed an agreement.

The company on Sunday told crews on long-haul flights to ensure aircraft had enough fuel to return home, should the group have to file for bankruptcy, Swedish daily Aftonbladet wrote.

The carrier is thought possibly to be heading for its fifth annual loss in a row after a restructuring programme last year failed to turn the company around.

SAS has in recent years come under increasing pressure from low-cost rivals such as Oslo-based Norwegian, Europe's third largest budget airline.

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Asset disposals and further outsourcing means the group's total number of employees would fall to 9,000 from 15,000 following under the new plan.

Shares in SAS soared 24.11 percent at around 0900 GMT on the Stockholm bourse. The main OMX Stockholm 30 index, in which the stock is not included, was 1.28 percent higher.

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