Danish pilots’ trade union Dansk Pilotforening confirmed the strike announcement to news wire Ritzau on Thursday. The Danish union is part of SAS Pilot Group, which represents SAS pilots in Denmark, Norway and Sweden.
Pilots with the airline in Sweden and Norway have also issued strike notices in line with the Danish announcement.
The collective bargaining agreement by which the pilots’ salary and working terms are determined expired in April. Pilots are currently working under the terms of the expired deal.
But the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement also means that the pilots are not bound by a commitment not to strike. They can therefore legally do so provided they give two weeks’ notice.
The creation of two SAS subsidiaries, SAS Connect and SAS Link, is reported to have generated an obstacle in negotiations over a new collective agreement.
The head of the Danish pilots’ union, Henrik Thyregod, denied on Thursday that the strike had been announced to coincide with SAS’ peak season during the summer. He noted that pilots chose not to strike at Easter, another peak time, when the action was also available to them.
“We have been sitting down with SAS since mid-November to try to find out what they need in terms of flexibility and savings,” Thyregod told Ritzau.
“We have found an overall package that gives a minimum of 25 percent [in savings, ed.]. That’s 500 million Swedish kronor. In return, we need jobs at Link and Connect for our pilots who have (previously) been let go,” he said.
“We have spent seven months on this. Last Friday, SAS told us that they could not guarantee they would not pull the same trick again: in other words, create new companies and make new collective bargaining agreements and take our jobs from us,” he said.
Several SAS employee groups have raised objections to what they see as moves by the airline since the Covid-19 pandemic to resume its business activities through the new subsidiary companies, keeping SAS activity at a level lower than it was at prior to the pandemic.
In a written comment to Ritzau, SAS head of media relations in Denmark Alexandra Lindgren Kaoukji strongly criticised the strike notice.
“The notice from the pilots’ unions is careless and shows a shocking lack of understanding of the critical situation in which SAS finds itself,” Kaoukji wrote.
Sweden’s government said on Tuesday that Stockholm will not bail out SAS amid the company’s ongoing debt struggles, adding that the Swedish state will be reducing its stake in the airline.