New talks aim to end pilots strike

Bookmark and Share

Weary negotiators for Norwegian Air and its striking pilots were back in contact on Monday, in an effort to finally end the bitter conflict. The strike, meanwhile, was delaying and cancelling far more flights to European destinations, and nearly all Norwegian’s Scandinavian flights remained grounded.

Norwegian Air officials are trying to keep the airline for heading off into the sunset. They claim the future of the entire company is at stake. PHOTO: Norwegian Air

Norwegian Air officials are trying to keep the airline from heading off into the sunset. They claim the future of the entire company is at stake, while union officials claim they’re fighting to preserve Norway’s high levels of pay and working conditions. PHOTO: Norwegian Air

The airline claimed that another 25,000 passengers would be affected by the pilots’ strike on Monday alone. Flights to destinations in Europe were said to generally be operating as scheduled, but there were delays on morning flights from Oslo to St Petersburg and Barcelona, while flights to Hamburg and Budapest were severely delayed, by as much as six hours. Another flight to Prague was cancelled, as was one to Warsaw, and there were lengthy delays posted for more flights later in the day.

Norwegian’s long-haul flights to Bangkok and the US were due to depart as scheduled, since they use crews that are not part of the Scandinavian unions.

For Norwegian Air’s latest information on its disrupted flight schedule, click here (external link).

Negotiators spent the weekend in dramatic rounds of all-night talks and more highly public displays of hurling accusations at one another. On Saturday, the two sides all but continued negotiations that had broken down live on national TV, much to the amazement of viewers.

Then they suddenly switched to a more conciliatory tone and settled down for more talks that resumed late Saturday afternoon at what the media called a “secret location.” The talks then ran straight through to Sunday afternoon, when they said they simply had to take a break. The union denied talks had formally broken down again.

“Both sides have agreed we need a pause in the negotiation,” Halvor Vatnar, head of the Norwegian Pilot Union (NPU) told NRK. The leader of the union’s labour federation, YS/Parat, insisted they were not deadlocked but needed some rest after 29 hours of negotiations.

“We have agreed to meet again (on Monday),” Vatnar said, with Skjæggerud adding that “we hope to find a solution” on Monday as well.

So did management officials at Norwegian, who continued to claim that they had “extended themselves far” to meet the pilots’ demands. They’d hoped for a settlement Sunday night, but that didn’t happen. NRK reported that the contact between Norwegian and its pilots’ representatives on Monday was taking place over the phone and via email.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund