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SAS ‘reaches deal’ with pilots to end strike

Airline SAS and striking pilots reached an agreement on Monday night to bring an end to the strike that has seen hundreds of flights cancelled in recent days, according to reports. However the airline later said that more work was needed to finalise the deal.

Pictured
SAS pilots say an agreement hasn't been reached. A SAS plane approaches Arlanda airport, north of Stockholm. Photo by Jonathan Nackstrand AFP.

Representatives of pilots unions and the airline SAS spoke to the press on Monday about an agreement being reached and the strike ending. 

“We have a deal, all that remains now is to get the last signatures on paper,” Carsten Dilling, the airline’s chair, told Sweden’s Dagens Industri newspaper before SAS said that talks were continuing.

“What I’m hearing from the negotiation room is that we have a deal,” a spokesperson for Dansk Metal, one of the unions representing SAS pilots, told Reuters, adding the agreement was not yet finalised.

However later on Monday SAS released a statement denying that any deal had been finalised.

“Due to the speculation in the media, SAS wants to clarify that no agreement has yet been signed between the two parties. The mediation process continues,” the airline wrote on its website after several reports emerged that the company and pilots had agreed to end the strike. 

“While the mediation has moved in the right direction, no agreement has yet been signed,” the airline said.

But news reports suggest that the deal is all but done but that it wasn’t good news for pilots.

Levi Skogvang, chair of the Norwegian pilots union, told the Dagbladet newspaper that he was not pleased with the five-year agreement that had been made, but that it was good enough to bring the strike to an end.

“It’s a tragedy for the pilots, looked at solely on the basis of their contracts, but it’s good that we’re done and that we can get the planes up in the air again,” he told the newspaper.

“We have not managed to negotiate an improvement in our terms, but only got worse terms. It’s not a nice thing to do. The only thing that is nice is that we have a deal, and that we can get the planes up in the air again.” 

According to Norway’s state broadcaster NRK, under the deal, the pilots have agreed not to go on strike or seek higher pay for five years, and in return, the 560 pilots who were laid off during the pandemic will be given back their jobs. 

Newspaper VG reports that Aleksander Wasland, leader of the Norwegian Pilots’ Association, had told NRK that 450 pilots got their jobs back, before the comment was later officially withdrawn by the broadcaster. 

A majority of SAS pilots in Sweden, Denmark and Norway walked out on July 4 triggering a strike that SAS has said cost it between $94 million and $123 million a day, Reuters reported.

The strike also coincides with the busy summer season in northern Europe, normally a time for airlines to cash in on holidaymakers.

The Local will update this story as we get more information.

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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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