Norwegian CEO Bjørn Kjos announced the strike's end Tuesday evening in Oslo. Photo: Terje Pedersen/Scanpix
The bitter strike between Norwegian Air Norway and its Scandinavian pilots has finally come to an end after the unions won legal and financial guarantees from the parent company.
The strike has affected over 150,000 passengers with virtually all flights in Scandinavia cancelled since Wednesday March 4th.
The airline is now working to return to normal scheduling as soon as possible, although flights on Wednesday will still face disruption.
The news was welcomed by the company’s CEO Bjørn Kjos at a press conference at the company’s Oslo head office early on Tuesday evening. He claimed that the company had made great efforts to bring the dispute to an end.
“I am very relieved that the pilots’ strike has now been called off and that our passengers can finally feel confident that flights will soon be running normally,” he said.
Halvor Vatnar, leader of the Norwegian Pilots' Union said the company had come some way to giving the unions the agreement they wanted, giving all pilots in Scandinavia the same links to the parent company, equal agreements, and common career opportunities.
"We have achieved a clear linkage to the parent company Norwegian Air Shuttle in terms of legal and financial guarantees, regardless of which subsidiary pilots are employed by," Vatnar said.
In exchange, pilots have accepted less expensive insurance and more flexible working hours, among other measures.
Kjos also professed himself happy with the terms of the deal: “We have given job security for three years. We have a lot of new planes on the way, and they need the pilots we have. We couldn’t provide a collective agreement with the parent company, and therefore sought a solution that worked for everyone.”
“I am extremely sorry for the problems caused to our passengers,” he added.
Geir Woxholth, a law professor at the University of Oslo, said the unions looked the loser in the deal, as they had lost their right to a collective agreement with the parent company.
"In reality, this is a total disaster for the pilots and Parat," he argued in a post on Facebook.
Hans-Erik Skjæggerud, leader of Parat union, said he was pleased the strike was over but was sorry so many passengers had been inconvenienced.
"We've been successful on the core areas, but I'm sorry that passengers have had to suffer for fundamental labour rights to be put in place," he said.
The strike started with 70 pilots on Saturday February 28th and escalated to include 650 more pilots on Wednesday March 4th.