Airline SAS says survival at stake as pilot strike grounds flights


  • Strike to floor roughly half of airline’s flights
  • SAS says will have an effect on about 30,000 passengers per day
  • Strike raises uncertainty of loss-making airline’s future
  • Greatest airline strike since BA pilots in 2019

STOCKHOLM, July 4 (Reuters) – Wage talks between Scandinavian airline SAS (SAS.ST) and its pilots collapsed on Monday, triggering a strike that places the way forward for the provider in danger and provides to journey chaos throughout Europe as the height summer time trip interval begins.

The motion is the primary main airline strike to hit when the trade is looking for to capitalise on the primary full rebound in leisure journey following the pandemic.

It follows months of acrimony between staff and administration because the airline seeks to get better from the impression of lockdowns with out taking up prices it believes would depart it unable to compete.

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On the similar time, staff throughout Europe are demanding wage rises as they wrestle with surging inflation.

A strike may price SAS practically 100 million Swedish crowns ($10 million) per day, Sydbank analyst Jacob Pedersen calculated, and the corporate’s future ticket gross sales will endure. Shares in SAS have been down 4.7% by 1511 GMT.

“A strike at this level is devastating for SAS and places the corporate’s future along with the roles of 1000’s of colleagues at stake,” SAS Chief Govt Anko van der Werff mentioned in an announcement.

“The choice to go on strike now demonstrates reckless behaviour from the pilots’ unions and a surprisingly low understanding of the important scenario that SAS is in.”

Sydbank’s Pedersen mentioned the strike may erase as much as half of the airline’s money movement of greater than 8 billion crowns within the preliminary four-to-five weeks alone in a worst-case situation, and was certain to go away “deep wounds” amongst affected travellers.

“SAS has an excessive amount of debt and too excessive prices, and is thus not aggressive. SAS is in different phrases an organization flying towards chapter,” he mentioned in a analysis word.


Union leaders blamed SAS.

“We now have lastly realised that SAS does not need an settlement,” SAS Pilot Group chairman Martin Lindgren advised reporters. “SAS desires a strike.”

Lindgren mentioned the pilots have been able to resume talks, however referred to as on SAS to alter its stance.

The unions mentioned practically 1,000 pilots in Denmark, Sweden and Norway will be part of the strike, which is among the largest airline walkouts since British Airways pilots in 2019 grounded a lot of the provider’s flights in a dispute over pay.

Additional disruption looms as British Airways workers at London’s Heathrow airport in June voted to strike over pay. learn extra

As well as, Spanish-based cabin crew at Ryanair (RYA.I) and easyJet (EZJ.L) plan to strike this month to demand higher working situations and staff at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport stopped work on the weekend to demand a pay rise. learn extra

Sofia Skedung, 38, arrived at Stockholm’s Arlanda airport to seek out the SAS flight she and her household have been booked on for a constitution journey was cancelled.

“I used to be going to go along with my household to Corfu on vacation for every week, which we actually had regarded ahead to since we have not travelled in a extremely very long time,” she mentioned as searched the departure corridor in useless for SAS workers.

“All the things could be very, very confused right here,” she added.


Loss-making SAS is looking for to restructure its enterprise via giant price cuts, elevating money and changing debt to fairness. learn extra

“That is all about discovering traders. How on earth is a strike within the busiest week of the final 2.5 years serving to discover and appeal to traders?” van der Werff advised reporters.

The airline, which is part-owned by the governments of Sweden and Denmark, estimated the strike would result in the cancellation of round 50% of scheduled SAS flights and impression round 30,000 passengers per day, roughly half its day by day load.

Denmark has mentioned it’s keen to offer more money and write off debt on situation the airline brings in non-public traders as nicely, whereas Sweden has refused to inject more cash.

Norway offered its stake in 2018, however holds debt within the airline, and has mentioned it may be keen to transform that into fairness. learn extra

Denmark’s Finance Minister Nicolai Wammen in an e-mailed remark to Reuters mentioned he hoped the events would attain an answer as quickly as doable.

The collective settlement between the airline and the SAS Pilot Group union expired on April 1. Months of negotiations, which started final November, have did not conclude a brand new deal.

Pilots have been angered by SAS’ choice to rent pilots via two new subsidiaries – Join and Hyperlink – as a substitute of first rehiring former staff dismissed throughout the pandemic, when nearly half of its pilots misplaced their jobs.

A strike would come with all pilots from mum or dad firm SAS Scandinavia, however not Hyperlink and Join, a union that organises the 260 pilots hooked up to the 2 models. Neither would it not have an effect on SAS’ exterior companions Xfly, Cityjet and Airbaltic, the corporate has mentioned.

SAS had already cancelled many flights forward of the summer time, a part of a wider development in Europe, the place, along with the upheaval of strike motion, operators have responded to workers shortages created by gradual rehiring after the pandemic.

($1 = 10.3436 Swedish crowns)

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Further reporting by Stine Jacobsen in Copenhagen and Alex Cornwall in Dubai; writing by Niklas Pollard; modifying by Barbara Lewis and Emelia Sithole-Matarise

Our Requirements: The Thomson Reuters Belief Rules.

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