SHARE
COPY LINK

SAS

SAS and pilots’ unions confirm end of strike

Scandinavian airline SAS and the unions representing their pilots said early on Tuesday that they had reached an agreement, ending a two-week strike that has cost the ailing airline between 9 and 12 million euros a day.

SAS and pilots' unions confirm end of strike
SAS and Norwegian planes at Stockholm Arlanda in 2020. SAS and pilots' unions on Tuesday ended a two-week-long strike. File photo: Jonathan NACKSTRAND / AFP

The agreement ending the strike after 15 days was confirmed by both the company and the unions after a negotiation session ran through Monday and into the early hours of Tuesday.

“I am pleased to report that we now have come to an agreement with all four pilot unions for SAS Scandinavia and the strike has ended,” chief executive Anko van der Werff said in a statement.

“Finally, we can resume normal operations and fly our customers on their much longed-for summer holidays. I deeply regret that so many of our passengers have been impacted by this strike,” he added.

A new agreement, covering the next five and half years, means that “flights operated by SAS Scandinavia will resume according to their regular traffic program as soon as possible”, the company said.

“SAS pilots have taken responsibility to sign a new agreement with SAS and the strike will cease,” the Swedish Air Line Pilots Association (SPF) said in a separate statement, adding that it had been “an extraordinary and very demanding negotiation.”

Pilots have been striking since July 4th, when nearly 1,000 of them walked off the job after talks broke down.

They were 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.

Under the new deal, 450 pilots will be re-hired.

One day after the strike began SAS announced it was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the United States, and van der Werff last week warned that the prolonged strike was putting the Chapter 11 process in jeopardy and, “ultimately, the survival of the company at stake”.

When the stoppage was in its tenth day, SAS said it had already cost roughly 1 to 1.3 billion Swedish kronor (94 million to 123 million euros), with more than 2,500 flights cancelled.

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

While the airline said it could meet its obligations in the near term it warned cash reserves “will erode very quickly in the face of a continuing pilot strike”.

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

“We now get on with the important work of progressing our transformation plan SAS FORWARD and building a strong and competitive SAS for generations to come,” van der Werff said on Tuesday.

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

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

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

TRAVEL NEWS

Tips for short-haul foreign travel from Norway this Christmas

For the past two Christmases, strict Covid rules prevented many people from travelling. This year that isn't an issue, but there are a few things you should know about your journey this year.

Tips for short-haul foreign travel from Norway this Christmas

Whether you’re a foreigner in Norway planning a trip to see friends or relatives over the festive season or you’re planning a Christmas or New Year trip to Norway, there are several things worth keeping in mind when planning travel.

Strikes

If you’re taking a trip to the UK, be aware that rail workers are currently engaged in a protracted battle to secure pay increases that will help them cope with the soaring cost of living and have not ruled out further strikes over the festive season.

Several strike dates have been announced for December 2022 and January 2023. These may complicate your travel plans significantly after arriving in the UK. You can check the latest strike dates here. In addition, public transport workers in London will also strike throughout December.  

If you’re going to Italy, there are widespread air and rail strikes in November that could continue into December, while Germany has also seen airline strikes. Low-cost airlines in Spain are also staging strike action that is currently scheduled to last until after Christmas.

You can find the latest in Italy here, Spain here and Germany here.

Meanwhile, back in Scandinavia, SAS cabin crew could strike over wages and working hours if an agreement isn’t reached during meditation. If they strike, this could lead to a reduced schedule to and from Norway.  

Flying

Many airlines are struggling to bring back staffing to pre-pandemic levels, making it difficult to increase the number of flights to meet demand. The current oil prices have also significantly increased airlines’ fuel costs.

Long-haul flight prices have increased significantly, while short-haul prices have also risen. 

One tip would be to travel from different airports to get to your destination. 

For example, flights from Oslo Torp (Sandjefjord) are typically cheaper than flights from Oslo Gardermoen. The downside is that you will need to travel to the other airport, meaning the journey may take longer. 

Earlier this summer, most airports across Europe, Norway (pretty much) excluded, suffered staffing issues, which led to travel disruption and long delays. 

Trains

While Norway is quite well connected to neighbours Sweden, with regular connections between the two countries and overnight options, the country’s rail links to other nations leave much to be desired. 

Essentially, if you plan to take a train to your destination, you will need to first get to Sweden or Denmark and use those countries as hubs to reach the rest of Europe. 

With train tickets across Norway and other countries, for that matter, you’ll need to book relatively soon-ish or face being disappointed. 

The Seat 61 website provides tips on how to travel comfortably and affordably by train. It includes an introduction to train travel in Europe and an extensive search feature to find trains by starting location.

Here you can find a link for journey plans from Oslo to London and other European cities. However, be aware that Eurostar is running around one-third fewer services to avoid massive queues due to the post-Brexit passport check rules, and passengers are now advised to allow 90 minutes for pre-boarding checks. Financial troubles at the company have also seen ticket prices rise.

The Trainline is an international platform focused on train travel. The company is based in the UK but has extensive coverage of train travel in 45 countries across Europe.

The Trainline aims to find the cheapest tickets for a selected route. Most of the time, this means booking in advance.

Ferry

Taking a ferry is another option if you wish to avoid airport queues and all the hassle of checking in bags. The Oslo-Kiel line will get you to northern Germany. From there, you can head to the rest of Europe. Journeys on this route regularly sell out, though. 

For a family with a car, two adults and two children, tickets cost around 275 pounds per person for a return journey

Another option is the Kristiansand Eemshaven ferry, which travels from the south of Norway to outside Groningen in the Netherlands three times a week. Tickets, excluding the cost of a cabin, begin from 310 euros for a family of four and a car- 

Then there are various links to Denmark, where one can take the ferry to the top of the country or straight to Copenhagen and drive across the continent from there. Ferries from Norway include several routes from Larvik, Kristiansand, Langesund, Stavanger, and Bergen to Hirtshals. For a full overview of ferries from Norway, click here.  

SHOW COMMENTS