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SAS

SAS and pilots’ unions confirm end of strike

Scandinavian airline SAS and the unions representing their pilots said early on Tuesday that they had reached an agreement, ending a two-week strike that has cost the ailing airline between 9 and 12 million euros a day.

SAS and pilots' unions confirm end of strike
SAS and Norwegian planes at Stockholm Arlanda in 2020. SAS and pilots' unions on Tuesday ended a two-week-long strike. File photo: Jonathan NACKSTRAND / AFP

The agreement ending the strike after 15 days was confirmed by both the company and the unions after a negotiation session ran through Monday and into the early hours of Tuesday.

“I am pleased to report that we now have come to an agreement with all four pilot unions for SAS Scandinavia and the strike has ended,” chief executive Anko van der Werff said in a statement.

“Finally, we can resume normal operations and fly our customers on their much longed-for summer holidays. I deeply regret that so many of our passengers have been impacted by this strike,” he added.

A new agreement, covering the next five and half years, means that “flights operated by SAS Scandinavia will resume according to their regular traffic program as soon as possible”, the company said.

“SAS pilots have taken responsibility to sign a new agreement with SAS and the strike will cease,” the Swedish Air Line Pilots Association (SPF) said in a separate statement, adding that it had been “an extraordinary and very demanding negotiation.”

Pilots have been striking since July 4th, when nearly 1,000 of them walked off the job after talks broke down.

They were 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.

Under the new deal, 450 pilots will be re-hired.

One day after the strike began SAS announced it was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the United States, and van der Werff last week warned that the prolonged strike was putting the Chapter 11 process in jeopardy and, “ultimately, the survival of the company at stake”.

When the stoppage was in its tenth day, SAS said it had already cost roughly 1 to 1.3 billion Swedish kronor (94 million to 123 million euros), with more than 2,500 flights cancelled.

The CEO also said the strike also had “a severe impact on our possibilities to succeed with SAS Forward”, the cost-saving programme launched by the ailing company in February.

While the airline said it could meet its obligations in the near term it warned cash reserves “will erode very quickly in the face of a continuing pilot strike”.

SAS, which employs nearly 7,000 people, mainly in Denmark, Norway and Sweden, is also seeking to raise about 9.5 billion kronor in fresh capital.

“We now get on with the important work of progressing our transformation plan SAS FORWARD and building a strong and competitive SAS for generations to come,” van der Werff said on Tuesday.

The summer is shaping up to be difficult overall for European airlines and airports, who are faced with staff shortages that are affecting air traffic.

After widespread job losses linked to Covid-19, airlines and airports are struggling to recruit new staff in many countries.

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SAS

Crisis-stricken airline SAS records heavy losses

Troubled Scandinavian airline SAS, which has filed for bankruptcy in the United States, reported deeper losses in the fourth quarter on Wednesday.

Crisis-stricken airline SAS records heavy losses

Net losses amounted to more than 1.2 billion Swedish kronor ($117 million) in the August-October period, compared to a loss of 744 million kronor a year earlier, the company said in a statement.

“As with previous quarters in 2022, the currencies (foreign exchange) and jet-fuel price have brought strong headwinds for our business,” said SAS chief executive Anko van der Werff.

The airline, however, saw the “highest number” of passengers since the beginning of the Covid pandemic, with healthy demand in the summer, van der
Werff said.

The airline, which cut 5,000 jobs in 2020, is preparing for “substantial recruitments and rehirings” to meet the expected increase in demand next
summer, he added.

SAS filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings in the United States in July — a move allowing a company to restructure its debts under court
supervision.

Van der Werff said the airline expected to complete the court-supervised process during the second half of 2023.

Earlier this year, The airline posted a net loss of 1.84 billion kronor ($170 million) for the May-July period, compared to a loss of 1.33 billion kronor a year earlier.

Earnings were “severely affected” by the 15-day pilot strike between July 4th-19th, which led to the cancellation of some 4,000 flights affecting more than 380,000 passengers, the company said in a statement.

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