Calls for a “ceasefire” between Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) and its pilots seemed to be mostly ignored on Sunday, when the two sides were publicly quarreling once again. The pilots announced they’d end a brief attempt to fly stranded Scandinavians back home, on the grounds SAS wasn’t carrying out the pact’s intentions.
Some SAS pilots had briefly returned to the cockpit late last week to fly stranded tourists home on chartered aircraft. The plan was to fly empty SAS jets to a few holiday destinations served mostly or only by SAS, where stranded Scandinavians could be picked up and brought home.
On Saturday, one of the pilots’ unions’ leaders, Roger Klokset, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that SAS wasn’t practicing the agreement in line with its terms. “The intention was to stretch out a helping hand to those with the biggest problems getting home,” Klokset said. Instead SAS allegedly sent planes to Rhodes, Crete, Split and other places where pilots claimed there were alternative forms of transportation. SAS management retorted that it didn’t share the pilots’ opinion that it was easy to find alternative transport home. “All of Europe is in an extremely challenging summer with lack of capacity, which makes it difficult to book passengeres onto other airlines,” SAS spokeswoman Tonje Sund told NRK.
Meanwhile, many tourists also remain stranded on Svalbard, where SAS is the main carrier. Two Norwegian women had told newspaper VG on Saturday how they hadn’t received any such offers of flights to get them home, but on Sunday the pilots’ unions’ told TV2 they’d allow some members to fly up aircraft to ensure access to Svalbard for critical local personnel and supplies. A flight on Monday will take off from Oslo for Svalbard via Tromsø, but only for those who need to get to and from the remote Arctic archipelago.