The main pilots’ union at struggling airline SAS has decided to follow through on its strike threat after wage talks broke down, the Scandinavian airline’s boss said on Monday.
According to management, the social movement will result in the cancellation of 50% of its flights, affecting 30,000 passengers per day, SAS said in a press release.
“The pilots have decided to go on strike,” said SAS managing director Anko van der Werff during a press briefing, denouncing a “strike culture” at a time when the company is “looking for investors” in the face of his financial difficulties.
More than 900 pilots based in Sweden, Norway and Denmark had filed an indefinite strike notice on June 9 denouncing the salary sacrifices demanded by the management, of the order of 30% of their income.
The strike threat initially ran from 29 June. But the negotiations had been extended twice until Monday in the hope of reaching an agreement. In vain.
The SAS press release:
Members of the SAS Scandinavia pilots’ unions have been called out on strike. The strike yields cancellations across the flight schedule and thousands of travellers are affected.
Since the notice of conflict was delivered on June 9, mediation between the pilots’ unions and SAS has been held. The strike follows as a consequence of the parties having been unable to reach an agreement. SAS wishes to continue mediation to be able to reach an agreement and end the strike as soon as possible.
“We deeply regret that our customers are affected by this strike, leading to delays and cancelled flights. We know all our passengers have been longing for this summer holiday and have booked travels for themselves and their loved ones. SAS employees are working hard to help our customers that have been affected by this unfortunate situation.
A strike at this point is devastating for SAS and puts the company’s future together with the jobs of thousands of colleagues at stake. The decision to go on strike now demonstrates reckless behaviour from the pilots’ unions and a shockingly low understanding of the critical situation that SAS is in,” says Anko van der Werff, President & CEO.
The strike is estimated to lead to the cancellation of approximately 50 % of all scheduled SAS flights and impact around 30,000 passengers per day. The flights operated by SAS Link, SAS Connect and SAS’ external partners are not affected by the strike.
The strike has a negative impact on the liquidity and financial position of the company and, if prolonged, such impact could become material.
Anko van der Werff concludes “We are ready to resume mediation as soon as possible and we will do our utmost to reach an agreement that is viable to secure the long-term competitiveness and financial sustainability of the company. We presume that the SAS Scandinavia pilots’ unions realize what is at stake and choose to continue the work to find an agreement.”
Customers who have booked a flight with SAS are advised to check if their flight is impacted by the strike at www.sas.se/travel/flightstatus/.
Due to peak season, the possibility to rebook affected customers to equivalent flights will be highly limited. Customers whose flights are cancelled, that we are unable to find viable alternatives for, are offered the options of either accepting a refund or rebooking their ticket to a later date or to arrange alternative means of travel themselves and seek reimbursement from SAS.
SAS will send updates via SMS and email to those customers affected. There is a dedicated page for all information concerning traffic disruptions: www.flysas.com/en/disruptions, which will be updated continuously. Everyone who has a flight booked is advised to check the status of their flight on the website before going to the airport as flight status information is frequently updated.