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SAS says pilot strike in Scandinavia could sink airline

The pilots' strike at Scandinavian airline SAS is costing between $9.0 and $12 million a day and threatens the survival of the already financially troubled company, SAS said on Thursday.

An SAS plane approaches Arlanda airport
The current pilot strike in Denmark, Sweden and Norway could sink SAS, the company has warned. File photo: A SAS plane approaches Arlanda airport, north of Stockholm. Photo by Jonathan Naclstrand / AFP.

The stoppage, which is now in its tenth day, has already cost roughly 1.0 to 1.3 billion Swedish kronor ($94 million to $123 million), the company said.

Negotiations between unions and management have so far failed to produce a solution.The airline said more than 2,500 flights have had to be cancelled already, affecting 270,000 passengers.

SAS announced it was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the United States on July 5, the day after nearly 1,000 of its pilots walked off the job.

“The strike is putting the success of the Chapter 11 process and, ultimately, the survival of the company at stake,” SAS chief executive Anko van der Werff said.

The CEO said the strike also “has a severe impact on our possibilities to succeed with SAS Forward”, the cost-saving programme launched by the ailing company in February.

SAS, which employs nearly 7,000 people, mainly in Denmark, Norway and Sweden, is seeking to raise about 9.5 billion kronor in fresh capital.

The airline said it “had sufficient liquidity to meet its business obligations in the near term without accessing new forms of capital” but warned cash reserves “will erode very quickly in the face of a continuing pilot strike”.

The pilots walked out last week after negotiations broke down. They are protesting against salary cuts demanded by management as part of a restructuring plan aimed at ensuring the survival of the company, and the firm’s decision not to re-hire pilots laid off during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The summer is shaping up to be difficult overall for European airlines and airports, who are faced with staff shortages that is affecting air traffic.

After widespread job losses linked to Covid-19, airlines and airports are struggling to recruit new staff in many countries.

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STRIKES

Norwegian government forces teachers’ strike to an end

Teachers in Norway returned to work on Wednesday following a lengthy strike due to the Norwegian government forcing industrial action over wages to an end.

Norwegian government forces teachers' strike to an end

Norway’s government has ended the teachers’ strike and forced unions and The Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities (KS) to a compulsory wage board.

“Unfortunately, the parties have not found a solution to the conflict. The strike is now leading to serious societal consequences for children and young people. I am particularly concerned about the pupils’ education, vulnerable children and young people and their mental health. After an overall assessment, I have therefore proposed a compulsory wage board,” Labour and Inclusion Minister Marte Mjøs Persen said in a statement.

Teachers decided to strike in June over wage growth in recent years. Unions said teachers had been the wage losers of collective bargaining agreements between KS and the public sector for the last six years.

KS maintained throughout the strike that it did not have the funds available that teachers were demanding. Around 8,500 teachers were on strike before the government brought industrial action to an end.

Over the past few weeks, several organisations called on the government to end the strike in the interest of students’ well-being.

Typically, strikes aren’t referred to the compulsory wage board in Norway unless there is a threat to public health.

Last week, unions met with KS and mediators, but the parties were unable to break through the deadlock.

“It is deeply regrettable that the government has chosen to intervene with a compulsory wage board. They now assume a great deal of responsibility for what has been the basis of the conflict,” Steffen Handal from the Norwegian Education Association said of the government’s decision.

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