DALLAS – SAS Scandinavian Airlines (SK) announced on Tuesday that a salary agreement had been struck with pilots’ unions, ending a 15-day strike over a new CBA that had halted 3,700 flights and cast doubt on the carrier’s survival.
At the start of July, talks between SK and its pilot unions broke down, resulting in up to 900 of its pilots striking with immediate effect. This left the airline with no choice but to cancel approximately 50% of its flying schedule.
The strike was to affect around 30,000 passengers per day on domestic and international flights from Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. It is the biggest airline strike since British Airways (BA) pilots walked out in 2019.
On the second day of the strike, SAS announced that it had filed for bankruptcy protection in the United States, claiming that the industrial action had so far cost them more than US$145m and impacted 380,000 travelers during the busiest time of the year for travel.
The airline said it filed this document in order to “accelerate SAS’ transformation by implementing key elements of its SAS FORWARD plan.” The SAS Forward plan involves complex negotiations, and the company said it may try to use one or more court proceedings to assist the airline to overcome its financial difficulties.
As reported by Reuters, SK said the new 5-1/2-year deal with four pilot unions would help it attain the cost savings set out in a business transformation plan.
“Finally, we can resume normal operations and fly our customers on their much longed-for summer holidays,” SAS Chief Executive Anko van der Werff said in a statement. “I deeply regret that so many of our passengers have been impacted by this strike.”
The airline will try to restore regular operations but some flight delays will persist, the Scandinavian carrier added.
According to SAS, the final agreement is still pending clearance from unions and a U.S. federal court, which it anticipates will happen in the coming weeks.
Featured image: Miles Aronovitz/Airways