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What can SAS passengers do if their flight is affected by pilots’ strike?

Scandinavian airline SAS has issued updated advice to passengers affected by the pilots' strike in Sweden, Denmark and Norway.

sas aircraft
A large number of SAS services could be affected by a pilots' strike this week. File photo: Jonathan NACKSTRAND / AFP

Scandinavian airline SAS and pilots’ unions in Norway, Denmark and Sweden have failed to reach an agreement to prevent a strike, meaning 900 pilots will go on strike this week.

“How on earth is a strike in the busiest week of the last two-and-a-half years going to help us find and attract investors,” SAS chief executive Anko van der Werff told reporters, criticising what he called a “strike culture” among pilots.

READ MORE: SAS pilots in Norway, Sweden and Denmark to strike after talks break down

The airline said that up to 30,000 passengers a day could be affected by the strike. Flights with SAS subsidiaries SAS Link, SAS Connect, and Air Baltic  CityJet  and, XFLY wouldn’t be affected by the strike. 

Passengers can rebook equivalent flights for free and are advised to check whether their flight will be affected, SAS said in updated information issued on its website. 

“As a precaution SAS offers passengers booked on SAS flights between July 4th – July 9th 2022 the option of rebooking the ticket, free of charge. Passengers can rebook to a SAS flight on another date, within the next 360 days, to the same destination if the same service class as the original ticket is available,” the airline said.

To see if their flight is likely to be affected, passengers are advised to check the status of their flight on the SAS website. Rebookings can be made via the “My Bookings” section.

Passengers who booked their ticket via a travel agent or tour operator should contact them directly, SAS said.

READ ALSO: Airport chaos in Europe: What are your rights if flights are delayed or cancelled?

Rebooking may take longer than usual, especially for passengers contacting the airline over the phone. However, the airline also said that there were waiting times for its chat service too. 

“SAS apologizes for the unusually long waiting times right now on chat and phone and are doing everything we can to assist our customers,” it said. 

The strike, involving around 1,000 SAS pilots, was announced by unions in the three Nordic countries after 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.

The creation of two SAS subsidiaries, SAS Connect and SAS Link, is reported to be a point of contention in negotiations over a new collective agreement.

Pilots’ unions in all three Scandinavian countries will take part in the strike, should mediation not achieve a result.

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TRAVEL

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.”

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