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Scandinavian SAS airline continues strike talks on Thursday

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TT/The Local - [email protected]
Scandinavian SAS airline continues strike talks on Thursday
Planes of Scandinavian airline SAS sit on the tarmac in a row on July 4, 2022 at Oslo Airport Gardermoen (Photo by Beate Oma Dahle / NTB / AFP)

Talks between SAS and the Scandinavian pilot unions are set to continue on Thursday after ten hours of fraught negotiations on Wednesday failed to result in a deal.

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“It has gone up and down throughout the day, but we have chosen to continue tomorrow”, SAS's chief negotiator Marianne Hernæs confirmed on Wednesday evening. “These are complex issues, so we need extra time. That is what the two sides are set on”.

Roger Klokset, leader of the Norwegian pilot union, did not want to comment on whether SAS had made any new offers, or how close the two sides had come to a deal.

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“We have always had hope of finding a solution with SAS, we had that last time and we have it now. We have always been clear about what is needed, and that it is SAS management who decides whether we leave here with a solution or not,” he said. 

Jan Levi Skogvang, head of the SAS pilot union in Norway, told the Norwegian finance news website E24 as he went in to the talks on Wednesday that unions expected SAS to make a new offer. 

"If they don't do that, we're ready to walk out after ten minutes. It's up to SAS," he said. 

The fact that talks instead extended for ten hours suggests that SAS has ceded some ground. 

READ ALSO: What's the latest on the SAS plane strike?

Aviation analysts have said that a deal could come within days, but even then it could take several more days before flights can resume. 

In a press release issued on Thursday morning, SAS estimated that the strike had so far cost it between 1.0 and 1.3 billion Swedish kronor (€94m), with a total of 2,550 cancelled flights impacting 270,000 passengers. 

If the strike continued, the airline said, it would struggle to raise necessary emergency financing. 

"In such a scenario, the company will need to consider the forced same of valuable strategic assets, and at the same time significantly scale down the SAS operation and fleet, if there is no breakthrough in negotiations with the pilots." 

Analysts estimate that it could take several days to get the flights back to normal in the event of a deal. 

Many planes have been parked during the strike, and therefore must clear mechanical security procedures before flying again.

In addition, a sympathy strike by Copenhagen airplane mechanics has meant there is a backlog in mandatory plane checks, adding to the time it will take to get SAS's fleet ready. According to regulations, safety checks should be conducted every three days.

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