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Signs of imminent agreement as Scandinavian airline SAS and pilots negotiate overnight: analyst

Scandinavian airline SAS and pilots unions continued overnight talks on Sunday, but one aviation analyst believes the parties may be close to reaching an agreement to end the pilots strike, which entered its 14th day on Sunday.

An SAS plane approaches Arlanda airport
The current pilot strike in Denmark, Sweden and Norway could sink SAS, the company has warned. File photo: A SAS plane approaches Arlanda airport, north of Stockholm. Photo by Jonathan Naclstrand / AFP.

“When you negotiate as intensively as the parties are now, you must expect that you start to approach a result,” said Sydbank aviation analyst Jacob Pedersen, Danish newswire Ritzau reported.

Previously, negotiations were put on hold at night and resumed the following day, but this time, the parties saw reason to continue negotiations overnight and into Sunday morning.

This indicated that an agreement could be imminent, Pedersen said, although he said he could not predict a timeline for this.

“I have no other good suggestions other than it must be close. Whether it will be Sunday, Monday or maybe Tuesday is more of an open question,” he added.

About 1,000 SAS pilots from Denmark, Norway and Sweden have been on strike since Monday, July 4th when talks over conditions related to the airline’s rescue plan broke down. In recent days, negotiations have resumed.

The pilots are protesting against salary cuts demanded by management as part of a restructuring plan aimed at ensuring the survival of the company, and the firm’s decision not to re-hire pilots laid off during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Axed pilots have had to compete against external applicants for jobs at SAS subsidiaries SAS Link and SAS Connect on less favourable terms than at the main airline SAS Scandinavia.

SAS is in major financial difficulties, exacerbated by the pandemic, and is working to implement a cost-saving plan called SAS Forward to provide annual savings in the billions of Swedish krona.

According to Pedersen, it is crucial for SAS to reach an agreement soon.

“This strike must end as quickly as possible for SAS,” he said, explaining that they were losing money quickly and that their reputation with leisure travellers was also suffering huge damage.

“It’s important to get the planes in the air as soon as possible,” he added.

The strike has cost SAS up to 130m kronor a day,  with 62 percent of SAS’ scheduled flights cancelled on Sunday, according to flight-tracking platform FlightAware. 

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TRAVEL NEWS

UK warns arrivals from Europe to ‘expect delays’ due to border force strike

The UK government has warned that people arriving into the country from Europe over Christmas should expect delays and disruption as border guards go on strike from Friday.

UK warns arrivals from Europe to 'expect delays' due to border force strike

The UK Border Force begins a strike on Friday, December 23rd, that is expected to cause major delays and disruption at airports and some ports.

Travellers were warned in a statement: “While the government is taking action to minimise disruption, travellers due to arrive in the UK over the Christmas period are warned to expect delays and disruption over the strike action affecting border control.

“Passengers should be prepared for longer wait times and should check with their travel agents, tour operators and airlines/carriers about possible disruptions to their journey prior to travelling.

“Our eGates will continue to function as per normal and we encourage all those eligible to use them to do so, as the quickest and most efficient way to pass through border control.”

The Public and Commercial Services Union, which represents the majority of border staff at airports, has called a strike between December 23rd and 31st, not including December 27th.

READ ALSO Do UK border strikes affect ferries, trains and the Channel Tunnel?

It is part of a wave of strikes hitting the UK as workers including nurses, paramedics, postal staff and rail workers strike for pay rises to help them cope with the soaring cost of living.

The disruption is expected to be concentrated at airports, although the ferry port of Newhaven is also affected, and is likely to lead to extremely long queues at passport control – some are predicting waits of up to 10 hours.

Affected sites are; Birmingham Airport, Cardiff Airport, Gatwick Airport, Glasgow Airport, Heathrow Airport – Terminals 2,3,4,5, Manchester Airport and Port of Newhaven.

It could also cause some flight cancellations and delays if passengers are not able to disembark at UK airports – travellers are advised to check with their airline before going to the airport.

The UK government has drafted in some members of the military to help run passport control, but this is likely to be a very limited service. 

Those travelling to the UK should also be aware of significant disruption on the railways, also due to strike action. 

You can find full details of travel between France and the UK HERE, or head to Local sites in Germany, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Austria and Denmark for the latest on travel.

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