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UPDATE: SAS and pilots resume negotiations on new agreement

On Sunday morning, SAS resumed negotiations on a new agreement with several of the airline's pilots.

UPDATE: SAS and pilots resume negotiations on new agreement
It is hoped SAS will reach an agreement with pilot's unions before noon on Monday. Photo: JANERIK HENRIKSSON/SCANPIX SWEDEN/AFP

On Sunday morning SAS resumed negotiations with pilots in the hope of finding a solution before the extended deadline of midday on Monday. If not, it could mean that as many as a thousand pilots will go on strike.

The pilots are employed by SAS’s parent company, SAS Scandinavia, and have announced strike action because they are not satisfied with their salary and working conditions at SAS.

In addition, the pilots are dissatisfied with the fact that instead of re-employing old SAS pilots, priority is given to hiring new pilots on cheaper agreements in the two subsidiaries SAS Link and SAS Connect.

On Saturday morning, when the parties stated that they would continue the negotiations up until and including Monday at 12 noon, there was hope of being able to land an agreement.

This is according to Keld Bækkelund Hansen, head of negotiations at Dansk Metal, who is involved in the negotiations on behalf of the pilots. “The aviation industry is complicated, and therefore we need extra time to get it to the finish line,” he told TV 2. “We will do everything to ensure that we get a breakthrough.”

If the parties do not succeed in landing an agreement before the midday deadline on Monday, then there is an opportunity to choose to postpone the deadline again and continue the negotiations, something that has already happened three times in the last week.

READ ALSO: Direct talks raise hopes SAS strike can be avoided

Another possibility is that the pilots choose to strike. This will mean that a significant part of SAS’s flights will be affected by delays or cancellations.

However, pilots in SAS Link and SAS Connect are not part of the strike notice and will continue their work. SAS will, therefore, be able to continue flights.

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TRAVEL

SAS pilots approve new collective agreement

93 percent of Danish SAS pilots have approved the agreement that ended strike action last month.

SAS pilots approve new collective agreement

93 percent of the Danish SAS pilots have voted yes to an agreement which ended strike action but also means, among other things, redeployments, longer working weeks and lower wages.

This was announced by Dansk Metal on Saturday morning. The pilots could have voted yes or no on the new collective agreement until midnight on Friday evening.

Pilots in Sweden and Norway have also approved the agreement.

Keld Bækkelund Hansen, head of negotiations at Dansk Metal, said “I am incredibly happy. It is a bit atypical to see that a collective agreement negotiation ends in agreements being made that reduce wages and conditions.”

“So of course it was exciting how our members viewed the new collective agreement. But they could also see that it was a necessity in relation to SAS’s situation,” he added.

The agreement comes after months of tug-of-war that finally saw SAS and the striking pilots reach a collective agreement on 19 July. It helped end a two-week strike.

Part of the background to the conflict between SAS and the pilots was that, during the COVID-19 pandemic, SAS dismissed around half of its pilots.

With the new collective agreement, however, all 450 dismissed pilots will be offered re-employment in the future.

At the same time, SAS pilots will see a 25 percent pay cut, and the limit for the workload is raised from 47 hours to 60 hours per week.

But even with strike action over and a collective agreement supported by pilots, the problems are far from over for SAS, which has suffered major financial losses during the conflict.

Currently, the airline plans to begin a reconstruction in the United States under bankruptcy protection in a so-called Chapter 11 process.

Bankruptcy protection will mean that SAS can continue to operate and pay wages while the process is ongoing.

SAS is seeking financing of up to $700 million- slightly more than DKK 5.1 billion.

SAS press manager Alexandra Lindgren Kaoukji said in a statement: “We are very happy and look forward to continuing our ongoing Chapter 11 process and our work to ensure a strong and sustainable airline for many years to come.The positive result of the vote will help SAS to attract long-term investors while we go through the Chapter 11 process and work further with the SAS Forward plan.”

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