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SAS pilots’ strike: What’s the latest? 

Pilot unions from Norway, Denmark and Sweden have agreed to resume talks with SAS. Does this mean we are close to an agreement to end strike action? 

Pictured is an SAS flight taking off in Germany
SAS and pilots' unions appear no closer to returning to the negotiating table as the strike enters its second week. File photo: An SAS plane takes off at dusk from Tegel airport in Berlin. Photo by AFP / Odd Andersen.

Recap: Why are pilots striking? 

Last Monday, unions representing Scandinavian Airline (SAS) pilots from Norway, Sweden and Denmark decided to go on strike, a move the company said would disrupt 30,000 passengers per day. 

Pilots have said they are unhappy with the wages and working conditions offered by SAS

However, the bigger issue for SAS pilots is that instead of re-employing those SAS pilots who were laid off during cutbacks caused by the pandemic, priority is being given to hiring new pilots on cheaper deals in two subsidiaries, SAS Link and SAS Connect. 

The airline has said that the subsidiaries are crucial to the company’s plans to cut costs to stay afloat. 

What is happening on Wednesday? 

Direct negotiations between the three countries’ pilot unions and the airline will restart at the offices of the Swedish National Mediation Office in Stockholm, unions confirmed on Tuesday. This came after the airline’s management issued a press release on Monday in which they offered to make further concessions. 

How long could the strike continue? 

Aviation experts seem to be more positive today, the two Danish analysts telling the Ritzau newswire that the conflict could be solved within days. 

On the day the strike began, aviation experts feared that it wouldn’t be short-lived due to the large gulf between what the pilots and airline wanted. 

The length of the current strike already surpassing the six-day strike pilots called in 2019. 

On Sunday, relations between the two parties deteriorated after SAS pilots decided to stop flying charter passengers home because they believe the airline has breached its side of the agreement.

Pilots had earlier agreed to break the strike to fly stranded charter passengers home if there were no or limited options available. 

Henning Jørgensen, Professor Emeritus in Labour market research at Aalborg University, told Danish newswire Ritzau that the latest decision to not fly stranded travellers home showed a lack of trust between both parties involved in the conflict.

“If you can’t work out how to trust each other, the parties are too far from entering negotiations again. That’s what I see as the main problem: When trust is broken down on both sides, it is difficult to find a solution.”

The professor said that he thought the strike might be forced to an end by politicians. For example, in Norway, the government recently ended an air technician strike as they feared it could affect public health by grounding air ambulances. 

Health leaders from the north of Norway met on Monday afternoon to discuss the consequences of the SAS strike pilot, which health trusts have said made it difficult to get key personnel to work, as flights are often used to cover large distances in the north, public broadcaster NRK reports. 

Have there been any fresh talks? 

On Sunday, the Norwegian SAS pilots’ trade union held a status meeting with mediators in Stockholm, head of the union Roger Klokset confirmed to newspaper Verdens Gang (VG).

The meeting was at the initiative of Swedish mediators, and both parties were present, Klokset said.

Swedish newswire TT reports that both sides are holding daily meetings with mediators but have so far not agreed to resume negotiations.

Jan Levi Skogvang, from union SAS Norge Flygerforening, told NRK on Monday that the parties were still where they were a week ago. 

Ritzau reports that Danish representatives wouldn’t be involved in any talks with the ombudsman or airline on Monday. 

What is SAS doing for affected passengers? 

The airline is offering passengers the opportunity to rebook tickets on SAS-operated flights between July 11th and July 16th 2022, without paying a fee. The ticket can be rebooked within the next 360 days. The offer applies to tickets bought before June 23rd 2022. 

Passengers whose tickets are cancelled will have some rights under EU legislation. These include the right to choose between getting your money back, getting the next available flight, or changing the booking completely for a later date. 

You are also entitled to assistance free of charge, including refreshments, food, accommodation (if you are rebooked to travel the next day), transport, and communication (two telephone calls, for example). This is regardless of the reasons for cancellation.

EU air passenger rights apply to you if your flight is within the EU or Schengen zone, if it arrives in the EU/Schengen zone from outside the bloc and is operated by an EU-based airline, or if it departs from the EU/ Schengen zone.

READ MORE: What are your rights if flights are delayed or cancelled?

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Airline Flyr announces drastic cut to domestic flights in Norway

Norwegian airline Flyr has announced it is cutting its domestic routes offer in Norway in order to save around 400 million kroner ahead of the winter season. The company also plans to lay off some of its employees.

Airline Flyr announces drastic cut to domestic flights in Norway

The Flyr airline is cutting domestic routes in Norway in an attempt to save around 400 million kroner ahead of the Winter season. The company also plans to lay off employees.

In a press release, Flyr noted that they plan to keep the routes to a number of popular European destinations in operation but that only a limited number of domestic routes in Norway will be maintained this Winter.

The company will gradually increase its domestic route offer again throughout the Spring and Summer of 2023.

“We are facing a challenging Winter (season)… as a result of a record number of interest rate increases, overall high price growth, and very high electricity prices. It hits us hard as an industry and company because even fewer people want to travel,” Flyr’s CEO Tonje Wikstrøm Frislid noted.

“Combined with persistently high fuel prices, this means that we need to adjust the route program throughout the Winter. Unfortunately, there is no alternative to laying off some of our good colleagues. However, we are working to put in place voluntary and adapted arrangements to be able to keep as many employees as possible.

“By implementing these measures, we will be well positioned to come back in full force in the spring and summer,” she added.

European routes

Between November and March, Flyr plans to offer flights to a number of popular European destinations, including Alicante, Malaga, Las Palmas, Barcelona, Rome, Paris, Nice, Berlin, and Brussels.

The company will also fly from Oslo to Bergen and Trondheim, as well as offer “Christmas routes” between a number of cities in Norway in December, according to the press release.

“We have received a very good response to the routes to our European holiday destinations and will maintain a varied route offer throughout the Winter,” the CEO said.

“At the same time, we must acknowledge that it has taken longer than we had expected to build loyalty in the Norwegian business market on domestic routes in Norway, where well-established players have large market shares and the general desire to travel, not least on weekdays, is significantly lower than before the pandemic.

“We have spent too much time on getting solutions in place for the travel agencies, where most business customers book their domestic travel. The fact that the Norwegian authorities have injected billions into our competitors during the pandemic has not made the situation any easier,” Wikstrøm Frislid said.

Passengers who have booked tickets on routes that will not be operational this Winter will be contacted directly by Flyr.

“We understand that this is frustrating for passengers who now have to change their trip plans, but everyone affected will be contacted directly and given help to either change their trip or get their money back,” the Flyr CEO said.

Flyr’s flight route offer from November to March (Europe):

Oslo – Alicante
Oslo – Malaga
Oslo – Gran Canaria
Oslo – Bergen
Oslo – Trondheim
Oslo – Barcelona
Oslo – Milano
Oslo – Brussel
Oslo – Paris
Oslo – Roma
Oslo – Genève
Oslo – Nice
Oslo – Salzburg
Bergen – Alicante
Trondheim – Alicante

Flyr’s Christmas route offer:

Oslo – Bodø
Oslo – Evenes
Oslo – Tromsø