Airline SAS cancels thousands of flights over staff shortages 

Scandinavian airline SAS will cancel around 4,000 flights over summer. This will cover the period between May and August, where the airline had a total of 75,000 flights planned.

SAS aircraft at copenhagen airport
SAS has cancelled thousands of services this summer citing staff shortages. File photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

“The vast majority of travellers won’t be affected by this, other than they will be rebooked to a flight within a few hours or on the same day,” press officer Karin Nyman told newspaper Dagens Industri (Di).

In total, around 5 percent of flights will be affected.

Nyman told the newspaper that the reason behind the cancellations is a staff shortage combined with delayed deliveries of new aeroplanes.

A spokesperson for SAS in Denmark also said very few passengers will even notice the cancellations, beyond the fact that some may be rebooked to a different flight. 

“We’re doing this to prevent a situation this summer where it turns out we can’t fly and passengers are stranded,” Alexandra Lindgren Kaoukji, head of media relations for SAS in Denmark, told news wire Ritzau. 

SAS laid off nearly half its employees during the Covid-19 pandemic, Ritzau writes, and is still feeling the squeeze. 

Di reports that pilots’ unions have repeatedly warned of potential staff shortages this summer.

Aviation expert Jan Ohlsson agrees that staff shortages are a problem.

“SAS have loads of planes, loads of flight routes but no one flying the planes. There’s a total overcapacity,” Ohlsson told Swedish news wire TT.

He said that numerous experts have warned SAS of this situation. Despite this, SAS put even more planes, including older planes with their livery changed, into rotation. The lack of staff means that they need to hire in pilots from external companies to get the planes flying.

“SAS have put themselves in a difficult situation,” Ohlsson told TT. “I – and others with me – think that SAS should have fewer planes flying instead and should be looking at which routes they are even flying at all”.

READ ALSO: Scandinavian airline SAS passenger numbers ‘highest since pandemic’

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Copenhagen Airport passengers warned of more queues on holiday weekends

Long queues were reported at Copenhagen Airport during last week’s extended public holiday weekend and similar issues are likely during two more upcoming holidays.

Copenhagen Airport passengers warned of more queues on holiday weekends

Staff shortages at security checks, caused by a lengthy rehiring process following the Covid-19 crisis, have been blamed for crowds and long queues at Copenhagen Airport during peak times this spring.

Long waiting times at security were reported both Thursday and Sunday at Copenhagen Airport, resulting in a significant number of passengers missing flights, broadcaster DR writes.

The airport’s commercial director Peter Krogsgaard told DR that Copenhagen is not alone in experiencing problems with queues.

“Copenhagen Airport and all airports in Europe have had a lot to do in re-hiring and training many employees after corona,” Krogsgaard said.

“We are therefore seeing that, now passengers are coming back and fortunately want to travel again, we are under a bit of pressure to begin with,” he said.

This means that passengers planning to travel during two more upcoming peak times – the public holidays on Ascension Day (Thursday May 26th) and Pentecost (Monday June 6th) – should brace themselves for lengthy queues at the airport.

Up to 70,000 passengers are expected during the first of the two public holidays, according to Copenhagen Airport.

“We expect to be very busy and are therefore advising all passengers travelling within Europe to arrive two hours before their flight. If you are going to outside of Europe, to the Unites States or Asia, you should come three hours before,” Krogsgaard told DR.

Passengers have few options should they miss flights due to long waits at security, a consumer rights consultant said to DR.

“You are in a very bad situation if you get to the airport too late in relation to the waiting times there actually are at security, because it’s your own responsibility to get to the airport in time to make the flight,” Vagn Jelsøe, senior consultant with the Danish Consumer Council (Forbrugerrådet Tænk), said to DR.

The airport expects to be fully staffed by the beginning of June, DR reports.

“Since January, we’ve done nothing other than hire a lot of new people and they must be trained and educated, and it takes some time for them to get to the security lanes,” Krogsgaard also said.

Airline SAS last week said it would cancel around 4,000 flights over the summer. The decision was made due to staff shortages combined with delayed deliveries of new aeroplanes, SAS said.