SAS’ Swedish strike over, after more disruption

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UPDATED: Swedish pilots for Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) finally accepted a sweetened pay offer and called off their strike Tuesday evening. Flights weren’t expected to be completely back on schedule until Thursday.

Another 18 flights operated by Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) between Norway and Sweden were cancelled on Tuesday, as the strike by SAS’ short-haul Swedish pilots dragged on. More delays were expected on Wednesday until SAS could get its aircraft into scheduled position, and SAS said it would take a few days before routes were running as they should.

Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported how SAS’ CEO Rickard Gustafson had to watch SAS’ stock tumble on Monday as the Swedish pilots union’s strike continued. He accused the pilots of “holding passengers as hostages,” as 27,000 of them saw their travel plans ruined. At least as many suffered the same fate on Tuesday.

“I am deeply disappointed … this can threaten SAS’ entire existence,” Gustafson said. Others have claimed that it was difficult to have sympathy for a group of highly trained professionals who mostly earn more than the equivalent of NOK 1 million a year (USD 120,000). They were demanding more job security and higher pay in the form of a 3.5 percent raise. SAS has offered 1 percent. State broadcaster NRK reported the pilots ultimately accepted 2.2 percent raises around 5pm.

“It’s been a difficult process and we are now relieved that the strike is over and that our customers can travel as planned,” Gustafson said. “I’m really sorry that so many customers have been hit by this strike.” A spokesman for the pilots’ union said “we’re all losers, and the biggest were the customers. The two sides need to look each other in the eyes and ask how we can negotiate in the future.”

SAS’ Norwegian pilot colleagues supported the Swedish pilots and had “full understanding” for their demands, contending that the Swedish pilots’ pay hasn’t risen for 10 years. The Norwegian pilots, meanwhile, came to terms with SAS on their own separate contract last week, avoiding a strike.

newsinenglish.no staff