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What Norway’s aircraft technician dispute means for your travel plans

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected]
What Norway’s aircraft technician dispute means for your travel plans
An on-going lockout of air technicians could lead to an increase in cancelled flights. Pictured is a SAS flight above Norway. Photo by Darya Tryfanava on Unsplash

A lockout barring aircraft maintenance staff from going to work has been introduced in response to an ongoing strike over wages. Here’s what it means for you if you’re travelling to or from Norway.

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What is the dispute? 

On Sunday, the Norwegian Confederation of Enterprise (NHO) introduced a nationwide lockout for air technicians in response to an ongoing strike. 

NHO’s lockout barred all aircraft maintenance staff nationwide from going to work, even those not on strike, and was brought in to try and force an agreement. 

The lockout has come just over a week since aircraft maintenance workers went on strike, leading to numerous flight cancellations in Norway last week. 

NFO, the union representing air technicians, was striking to secure a wage increase of around 60 kroner per hour. 

READ MORE: More than 200 flights in Norway cancelled due to employee dispute

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Which airlines are affected? 

Three commercial airlines are affected by the strike and lockout. These are Norwegian Air Shuttle, SAS and Widerøe. 

Without aircraft technicians to perform maintenance and repairs, airlines are forced to cancel flights as they cannot service their planes. 

So far, Widerøe has had to cancel more flights than the other airlines. This is partly because the airline has many more daily departures than SAS and Norwegian. 

Short-haul domestic flights are the ones that Widerøe has cancelled the most, although some of its international departures have also been grounded. 

Norwegian Air Shuttle has cancelled a number of flights, but not to the same extent as Widerøe. On Monday, only two flights were cancelled due to the ongoing air technician situation. However, the airline told newswire NTB that it was difficult to predict how many flights may be cancelled due to the strike. 

“It is starting to get demanding, and we see that there may be cancellations. Unforeseen things happen in an operational flight day, and as time goes on, there may be cancellations. If there is an unforeseen event now, it will quickly have consequences,” Tonje Sund, press manager for Norwegian Air Shuttle, told NTB. 

SAS has remained largely unaffected by the air technician strike and lockout so far, although it has cancelled departures for other reasons, SAS spokesperson told public broadcaster NRK

Passengers with Flyr and other airlines will not be affected by the strike. 

READ MORE: What to expect when travelling through a Norwegian airport this summer

What should passengers do?

Travellers are advised by the airlines to travel to the airport and make their journey as usual unless their flight is cancelled or they are informed otherwise by airlines. 

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If their flight is cancelled, they should contact the airline they were supposed to fly with directly. However, Widerøe has asked travellers not to get in touch and said it would reach them instead. 

“Do not contact us. We will contact you,” Cathrina Solli, communications manager for Widerøe, told newspaper VG.

Typically, airlines will try and rebook passengers or offer them a refund, in addition to providing accommodation and food, if necessary. 

However, Widerøe has said it is temporarily suspending its rebooking service. 

“We no longer have the opportunity to rebook, offer alternative transport, meals and accommodation,” Solli told regional paper Bergens Tidende on Sunday. 

“As the situation is now, we do not have the opportunity to rebook to a later departure, as we do not know when the planes will start running normally again,” she added. 

READ MORE: What are your rights if flights are delayed or cancelled?

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