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SAS pilots in Norway, Sweden and Denmark to strike after talks break down

Some 900 pilots from airline SAS in Sweden, Denmark and Norway, are set to hold strike action after the company and the pilots' unions failed to reach an agreement before Monday afternoon's deadline. Some 45,000 passengers could be affected daily.

An SAS aircraft
SAS pilots in Norway, Sweden and Denmark will go on strike. File photo: an aircraft of the Scandinavian airline (SAS) parked on the tarmac at the airport of Manchester in England. Photo by Christof Stache / AFP.

Scandinavian airline SAS and pilots’ unions in Norway, Denmark and Sweden have failed to reach an agreement to prevent a strike, meaning 900 pilots will go on strike this week.

“How on earth is a strike in the busiest week of the last two-and-a-half years going to help us find and attract investors,” SAS chief executive Anko van der Werff told reporters, criticising what he called a “strike culture” among pilots.

SAS and unions had set a deadline of midday Monday to strike a deal. The strike comes after the two parties agreed to extend the deadline for talks several times in the hopes of coming to an agreement.

The pilots are employed by SAS’s parent company, SAS Scandinavia, and announced strike action because they are unsatisfied with their salary and working conditions.

“We deeply regret that our customers are affected by this strike, leading to delays and cancelled flights,” van der Werff said in a statement.

In addition, the pilots are dissatisfied 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.

The airline says that 30,000 passengers a day could be affected and 50 percent of all flights could be affected. It is unclear how long the strike will last. Swedish newswire TT reports that as many as 45,000 passengers could be affected. 
 

Pilots will begin striking once they return to the airport they operate out of. SAS said that it expected all pilots to be out on strike within 24 hours. 

Travellers can check the status of their flight and the likelihood of it being cancelled here. An information centre for affected passengers has been set up at Oslo Gardermoen Airport by SAS and Avinor, which operates Norwegian airports. 

READ MORE: What can SAS passengers do if their flight is affected by pilots’ strike?

Member comments

  1. What is happening here is a disgrace.
    SAS pilots had an agreement whereby a promise to be reinstated of they lost their jobs during the pandemic. This promise was to run for 5 years.
    Other European airlines, like mine, Air France, where pumped gazillions of euros by the state. Just like Lufthansa did, many were invited to leave with a hefty financial incentive, all the while SAS was throwing 40 % of its workforce on the street.
    Then, forget the agreement, SAS starts hiring new pilots in an Irish working agreement kind of shell, of course much cheaper.
    And one is surprised to see these guys striking ?
    Pilots do not have a strike culture, tu they get mighty cranky when one’s word isn’t kept.
    What is happening is this CEO own making.
    You did it……gave the music now.

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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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