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Coronavirus: SAS extends suspension of flights to China

Concern over the potential spread of coronavirus has resulted in airline SAS prolonging its suspension of flights to China.

Coronavirus: SAS extends suspension of flights to China
SAS aircraft at Copenhagen Airport. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix
Editor's note: The situation around the novel coronavirus is changing rapidly, and this article is no longer being updated. Please click HERE for the latest updates and HERE for all our coronavirus coverage.
 
SAS has extended its suspension of flights to Beijing and Shanghai until March 29th, the company confirmed in a press statement.

“The safety of our passengers and employees is our highest priority,” SAS writes in the statement.

“A new evaluation has been made of the situation in China regarding the Coronavirus and SAS has decided to prolong the suspension of all flights to and from Shanghai and Beijing until March 29th. Refunds and rebooking possibilities are offered for affected passengers,” the message continues.

Initially, SAS announced that all flights to Shanghai and Beijing had been suspended until February 9th. This was later extended until February 29th and now until the end of March.

SAS services to Hong Kong are not affected by the cancellations.

However, passengers departing from or transferring via Hong Kong are not permitted to enter the Philippines, due to restrictions for travel between Hong Kong and the Philippines implemented by Manila.

“SAS will continue to monitor the (Hong Kong) situation in constant dialogue with authorities and continuously update the information about the situation,” the airline writes in the statement.

Denmark's foreign ministry has advised against all travel to Hubei Province in China, where the virus is believed to have originated.

Danish authorities also recommend avoiding all so-called unnecessary trips to the country.

The Swedish Foreign Ministry is also advising people not to travel to China's Hubei province.

READ ALSO:

The death toll from the coronavirus epidemic has now passed 1,100, but the number of new cases fell for a second straight day on Wednesday, AFP reports, raising hopes the outbreak could peak later this month.

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SAS

‘We agree to disagree’: Still no progress in marathon SAS strike talks

By lunchtime on Friday, talks between the Scandinavian airline SAS and unions representing striking pilots were still stuck on "difficult issues".

'We agree to disagree': Still no progress in marathon SAS strike talks

“We agree that we disagree,” Roger Klokset, from the Norwegian pilots’ union, said at lunchtime outside the headquarters of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise in Stockholm, where talks are taking place. “We are still working to find a solution, and so long as there is still some point in continuing negotiations, we will do that.” 

Mats Ruland, a mediator for the Norwegian government, said that there were “still several difficult issues which need to be solved”. 

At 1pm on Friday, the two sides took a short break from the talks for lunch, after starting at 9am. On Thursday, they negotiated for 15 hours, breaking off at 1am on Friday morning. 

READ ALSO: What’s the latest on the SAS plane strike?

Marianne Hernæs, SAS’s negotiator on Friday told journalists she was tired after sitting at the negotiating table long into the night. 

“We need to find a model where we can meet in the middle and which can ensure that we pull in the income that we are dependent on,” she said. 

Klokset said that there was “a good atmosphere” in the talks, and that the unions were sticking together to represent their members.

“I think we’ve been extremely flexible so far. It’s ‘out of this world’,’ said Henrik Thyregod, with the Danish pilots’ union. 

“This could have been solved back in December if SAS had not made unreasonable demands on the pilots,” Klokset added. 

The strike, which is now in its 12th day, has cost SAS up to 130m kronor a day, with 2,550 flights cancelled by Thursday, affecting 270,000 passengers. 

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