SAS lays off more than half Denmark cabin staff

The Scandinavian airline SAS on Monday sent termination letters to more than half of their cabin crew in Denmark, taming the total number of staff who have lost their job in Denmark following the coronavirus crisis to 1,593.

SAS lays off more than half Denmark cabin staff
An SAS flight arrives in Denmark on Monday March 16th. Photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix
“It's a sad day in SAS's history. Today we have had to say goodbye to a large number of loyal, esteemed and talented employees,” the airline's press officer Sille Beck-Hansen said in a written comment. 
“The corona crisis has hit SAS with such force that we are now fighting for our survival.” 
The airline on Monday emailed dismissal letters to 700 of its 1,200 cabin crew in Denmark, giving them between one and six month's notice, Christa Ceré, chair of the CAU air union, said. 
“It's a lot of people and my members are in a bad situation. The whole industry is also affected, which is why you can't just apply for another job,” she said. 
“Some have been more prepared than others, but you can't really prepare for such a message.” 
SAS announced in April that it planned to 1,700 of its staff in Denmark, and the final number, which includes voluntary redundancies, is slightly fewer than feared. 
Ceré said that employees had been given the option of converting the termination into a voluntary leave period of 24 months, which will keep them officially employed by SAS but without pay. 
Ceré said that deciding to take leave rather than redundancy was a gamble for her members. 
“We are confident that it [demand for flights] will come up again. The question is just how long it will take,” she said.  “It's still a tough decision. If you choose to accept the possibility of leave, you are without pay from the first [of July].” 
The Danish shipping and logistics company DFDS also announced on Monday that it would lay off some 200 people. 

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‘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.