August 10, 2022
SAS Pilots Walkout after Talks Collapse
Airlines Industry

SAS Pilots Walkout after Talks Collapse

DALLAS – Talks between SAS Scandinavian Airlines (SK) and its pilot unions have broken down, and up to 900 of its pilots will now strike with immediate effect.

This has left the airline with no choice but to cancel approximately 50% of its flying schedule.

The strike will 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.

The airline is yet to confirm what flights will be canceled. Photo: SAS – Scandinavian Airlines

A “Devastating” Strike

Calling the strike “reckless,” the airline’s CEO Anko van der Werff said in a statement, “A strike at this point is devastating for SAS and puts the company’s future together with the jobs of thousands of colleagues at stake.”

Indeed, it is estimated that the walkout will cost the airline around 100m Swedish kronor (US$10m) each day. Flights operated by SAS Link and SAS Connect (SL) will be unaffected by the action.

Like most carriers, the pandemic has damaged SAS. In February 2022, it embarked on an extensive overhaul known as ”SAS Forward.” This involved rightsizing its fleet, updating its onboard product, overhauling its digital platform, and raising new capital. This, it was hoped, would cut costs by 7.5bn Swedish kronor (US$800m).

Both domestic and international flights will be affected. Photo: Ioan Alonso Gil/Airways

Numerous Issues Raised

SAS’s pilot’s union delivered the notice of conflict on June 9. It raised numerous issues regarding pay, working conditions, and the creation of new staffing companies which employ pilots on new contracts.

Despite mediation, both parties have been unable to reach an agreement. Anko van der Werff continued, “We are ready to resume mediation as soon as possible, and we will do our utmost to reach an agreement that is viable to secure the long-term competitiveness and financial sustainability of the company. We presume that the SAS Scandinavia pilots’ unions realize what is at stake and choose to continue the work to find an agreement.”

However, SAS Pilot Group Chairman Martin Lindgren put the blame firmly on the airline saying, “SAS Pilot Group Chairman Martin Lindgren. SAS wants a strike. We hope we will be able to return to the negotiating table and meet, but it requires that the employer makes a move.”

Shares in the airline dropped by 5% following the announcement.

Featured Image: SAS Airbus A350-900 (SE-RSE) was delivered to the airline in March 2021. Photo: Mateo Skinner/Airways

Writer, aviation fanatic, plant geek and part-time Flight Attendant for a UK based airline. Based in Liverpool, United Kingdom.

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