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SAS pilots' strike: What's the latest? 

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected]
SAS pilots' strike: What's the latest? 
SAS and pilots' unions appear no closer to returning to the negotiating table as the strike enters its second week. File photo: An SAS plane takes off at dusk from Tegel airport in Berlin. Photo by AFP / Odd Andersen.

Pilot unions from Norway, Denmark and Sweden have agreed to resume talks with SAS. Does this mean we are close to an agreement to end strike action? 


Recap: Why are pilots striking? 

Last Monday, unions representing Scandinavian Airline (SAS) pilots from Norway, Sweden and Denmark decided to go on strike, a move the company said would disrupt 30,000 passengers per day. 

Pilots have said they are unhappy with the wages and working conditions offered by SAS

However, the bigger issue for SAS pilots is that instead of re-employing those SAS pilots who were laid off during cutbacks caused by the pandemic, priority is being given to hiring new pilots on cheaper deals in two subsidiaries, SAS Link and SAS Connect. 

The airline has said that the subsidiaries are crucial to the company's plans to cut costs to stay afloat. 


What is happening on Wednesday? 

Direct negotiations between the three countries' pilot unions and the airline will restart at the offices of the Swedish National Mediation Office in Stockholm, unions confirmed on Tuesday. This came after the airline's management issued a press release on Monday in which they offered to make further concessions. 

How long could the strike continue? 

Aviation experts seem to be more positive today, the two Danish analysts telling the Ritzau newswire that the conflict could be solved within days. 

On the day the strike began, aviation experts feared that it wouldn't be short-lived due to the large gulf between what the pilots and airline wanted. 

The length of the current strike already surpassing the six-day strike pilots called in 2019. 

On Sunday, relations between the two parties deteriorated after SAS pilots decided to stop flying charter passengers home because they believe the airline has breached its side of the agreement.

Pilots had earlier agreed to break the strike to fly stranded charter passengers home if there were no or limited options available. 

Henning Jørgensen, Professor Emeritus in Labour market research at Aalborg University, told Danish newswire Ritzau that the latest decision to not fly stranded travellers home showed a lack of trust between both parties involved in the conflict.

"If you can't work out how to trust each other, the parties are too far from entering negotiations again. That's what I see as the main problem: When trust is broken down on both sides, it is difficult to find a solution."

The professor said that he thought the strike might be forced to an end by politicians. For example, in Norway, the government recently ended an air technician strike as they feared it could affect public health by grounding air ambulances. 

Health leaders from the north of Norway met on Monday afternoon to discuss the consequences of the SAS strike pilot, which health trusts have said made it difficult to get key personnel to work, as flights are often used to cover large distances in the north, public broadcaster NRK reports. 


Have there been any fresh talks? 

On Sunday, the Norwegian SAS pilots' trade union held a status meeting with mediators in Stockholm, head of the union Roger Klokset confirmed to newspaper Verdens Gang (VG).

The meeting was at the initiative of Swedish mediators, and both parties were present, Klokset said.

Swedish newswire TT reports that both sides are holding daily meetings with mediators but have so far not agreed to resume negotiations.

Jan Levi Skogvang, from union SAS Norge Flygerforening, told NRK on Monday that the parties were still where they were a week ago. 

Ritzau reports that Danish representatives wouldn't be involved in any talks with the ombudsman or airline on Monday. 

What is SAS doing for affected passengers? 

The airline is offering passengers the opportunity to rebook tickets on SAS-operated flights between July 11th and July 16th 2022, without paying a fee. The ticket can be rebooked within the next 360 days. The offer applies to tickets bought before June 23rd 2022. 

Passengers whose tickets are cancelled will have some rights under EU legislation. These include the right to choose between getting your money back, getting the next available flight, or changing the booking completely for a later date. 

You are also entitled to assistance free of charge, including refreshments, food, accommodation (if you are rebooked to travel the next day), transport, and communication (two telephone calls, for example). This is regardless of the reasons for cancellation.

EU air passenger rights apply to you if your flight is within the EU or Schengen zone, if it arrives in the EU/Schengen zone from outside the bloc and is operated by an EU-based airline, or if it departs from the EU/ Schengen zone.

READ MORE: What are your rights if flights are delayed or cancelled?


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