SAS pilots’ strike scheduled to begin on June 29th

A strike involving around 1,000 SAS pilots is scheduled to begin on June 29th, according to a second strike notice issued by the pilots’ trade union on Wednesday.

A SAS airplane prepares to land at Longyearbyen Airport in Norway's Svalbard archipelago
A SAS airplane prepares to land at Longyearbyen Airport in Norway's Svalbard archipelago, in May 2022. Photo: Jonathan NACKSTRAND / AFP

The second strike warning is a normal step after a first notice, which was issued by the pilots last week.

Despite a second notice having been issued, it is not certain that strike action will actually take place. This is because the pilots could still reach an agreement with SAS prior to the confirmed date of the planned strike.

Should it go ahead as scheduled, the strike will take effect simultaneously for pilots in Norway, Sweden and Denmark. Pilots in the three Nordic countries have separate trade unions but the planned strike action is coordinated between them.

Danish pilots’ trade union, Dansk Pilotforening, last week issued the initial strike warning. 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 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.

READ ALSO: What is a Danish collective bargaining agreement?

Meetings between the various parties are ongoing this week under the auspices of the Swedish negotiating institution for collective bargaining agreements, Danish news wire Ritzau writes.

The dispute between the two sides comes as SAS leadership attempts to implement a recovery plan for the airline, which is mired in debt.

SAS wants to raise capital by selling shares and also has a cost-cutting plan in place.


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SAS pilots approve new collective agreement

93 percent of Danish SAS pilots have approved the agreement that ended strike action last month.

SAS pilots approve new collective agreement

93 percent of the Danish SAS pilots have voted yes to an agreement which ended strike action but also means, among other things, redeployments, longer working weeks and lower wages.

This was announced by Dansk Metal on Saturday morning. The pilots could have voted yes or no on the new collective agreement until midnight on Friday evening.

Pilots in Sweden and Norway have also approved the agreement.

Keld Bækkelund Hansen, head of negotiations at Dansk Metal, said “I am incredibly happy. It is a bit atypical to see that a collective agreement negotiation ends in agreements being made that reduce wages and conditions.”

“So of course it was exciting how our members viewed the new collective agreement. But they could also see that it was a necessity in relation to SAS’s situation,” he added.

The agreement comes after months of tug-of-war that finally saw SAS and the striking pilots reach a collective agreement on 19 July. It helped end a two-week strike.

Part of the background to the conflict between SAS and the pilots was that, during the COVID-19 pandemic, SAS dismissed around half of its pilots.

With the new collective agreement, however, all 450 dismissed pilots will be offered re-employment in the future.

At the same time, SAS pilots will see a 25 percent pay cut, and the limit for the workload is raised from 47 hours to 60 hours per week.

But even with strike action over and a collective agreement supported by pilots, the problems are far from over for SAS, which has suffered major financial losses during the conflict.

Currently, the airline plans to begin a reconstruction in the United States under bankruptcy protection in a so-called Chapter 11 process.

Bankruptcy protection will mean that SAS can continue to operate and pay wages while the process is ongoing.

SAS is seeking financing of up to $700 million- slightly more than DKK 5.1 billion.

SAS press manager Alexandra Lindgren Kaoukji said in a statement: “We are very happy and look forward to continuing our ongoing Chapter 11 process and our work to ensure a strong and sustainable airline for many years to come.The positive result of the vote will help SAS to attract long-term investors while we go through the Chapter 11 process and work further with the SAS Forward plan.”