SAS pilots reach agreement with management, end strike
STOCKHOLM (AP) — Scandinavian Airlines pilots in Sweden, Norway and Denmark early Tuesday called off a strike that has been causing major disruption for 15 days after reaching a deal with management.
The carrier has said the strike has led to the cancellation of around half of all SAS scheduled flights and had impacted thousands of passengers per day.
SAS CEO Anko van der Werff said the parties had agreed on an agreement for the next five-and-a-half years that guarantees both cost savings for the airline and job security for the pilots.
“I am pleased to report that we now have come to an agreement with all four pilot unions for SAS Scandinavia and the strike has ended. Finally, we can resume normal operations and fly our customers on their much longed-for summer holidays. I deeply regret that so many of our passengers have been impacted by this strike,” van der Werff said in a statement,
Some 900 pilots walked out July 4, citing inadequate pay and working conditions and expressing dissatisfaction with the decision by the carrier to hire new pilots to fill vacancies at its subsidiary airlines, SAS Link and SAS Connect, rather than rehire former pilots who were laid off due to the pandemic.
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“Pilots have secured an important breakthrough. Four hundred and fifty pilots who were laid off during the corona pandemic have been guaranteed re-employment and the pilot associations’ collective agreements will also apply to the new companies SAS Connect and SAS Link,” the pilot association SAS Pilot Group said in a statement.
SAS said the strike led to the cancellation of more than 3,700 flights, affecting some 380,000 passengers, adding the walkout cost 100-130 million Swedish kronor ($9.5-12.3 million) per day in lost revenue and costs.
Talks between pilot unions and the airline had started in November to renew a collective agreement that expired on April 1. However, months of negotiations had failed to conclude a new deal.
A day after the strike began, the financially troubled SAS filed for bankruptcy protection in the United States, saying the walkout had put the future of the carrier at risk. The airline said it voluntarily filed for Chapter 11 in New York, meaning civil litigation is put on hold while the business reorganizes its finances.
Scandinavian Airlines is part-owned by the governments of Sweden and Denmark. In 2018, Norway sold its stake but holds debt in the airline and has said it might be willing to convert that into equity.