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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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SAS

Scandinavian airline SAS plans to launch electric planes in 2028 

Despite a number of economic challenges, airline SAS has announced an agreement with a Swedish company that will enable it to purchase electric aircraft and add them to its fleet. 

Scandinavian airline SAS plans to launch electric planes in 2028 

SAS has signed an agreement with Swedish company Heart Aerospace that could see it operating electric planes from 2028, the airline said in a press statement.

The model of plane that SAS would purchase from Heart Aerospace seats 30 passengers and has a range of 200 kilometers, SAS wrote.

“Along with the entire industry, we are responsible for making air travel more sustainable,” CEO of SAS Anko van der Werff said in the statement.

“SAS is dedicated to transforming air travel so future generations can continue to connect the world and enjoy the benefits of travel – but with a more sustainable footprint,” he said.

The aircraft will be installed with a hybrid system enabling them to double their range, SAS wrote.

“This has the potential to be a significant step on SAS’ sustainability journey, enabling zero-emission flights on routes within Scandinavia,” the press release stated. 

SAS has previously been involved in the development of another electric aircraft, the ES-30, which it partnered with Heart Aerospace on in 2019.

“The electric airplane will be a good supplement to our existing fleet, serving shorter routes in Denmark, Norway and Sweden in a more sustainable way,” van der Werff said.

READ MORE: SAS cancels 1,700 flights in September and October 

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