SAS reported almost 700 flight cancellations during April – June and the problem continues in July, ABC Nyheter in Norway reports.
Pilots claim poor working conditions
26 SAS Ireland (SAIL) pilots have in a letter to SAS advised about poor working conditions and employment contracts by their employment agency CAE Parc Ltd. This warning letter, seen by ABC Nyheter, was sent at the start of the summer peak season. Around half of SAIL pilots have either quit or plan to quit their job, according to NTB news. There is no information on which airlines these pilots moved to.
The competition for experienced pilots is intense between the airlines, last year Ryanair said several of its Irish pilots terminated their contracts and moved to Norwegian. Ryanair increased pilot wages in 2017 as a measure to keep pilots in the company and to attract pilots flying for other airlines to move to Ryanair.
Almost 700 flights cancelled
SAS cancelled close to 700 flights during April – June and 80 percent of the cancelations were due to irregularities by SAS subcontractors SAIL and City Jet, ABC Nyheter reports. These two subcontractors have six years contracts with SAS to operate regional and other routes on behalf of the Scandinavian carrier. SAIL is SAS low-cost arm and shall compete with low-costs carriers on routes between UK and Spain and on some routes between UK, Ireland and Scandinavia, together with routes between Spain and Scandinavia. Pilots and cabin crew working for SAIL have local contracts and terms, an employment system common used by low-cost carriers to keep costs down. City Jet has a large production, mainly in Scandinavia and this company has also been short of crew and had technical challenges leading to cancelled flights.
Air traffic controller (ATC) strikes in Europe
The impact of unplanned ATC strike and actions are an escalating problem for airlines with flights into Central and South-European airspace. SAS and SAS Ireland are no exceptions and routes between Scandinavia, France and Spain together with routes between UK to Spain are disrupted, especially during weekends. One main problem is ATC in Marseilles who controls the airspace in Southern-France and flights to Nice, Barcelona, Malaga, Alicante and Palma are in the danger zone as they normally must overfly airspace controlled by Marseilles ATC.
These problems are most visible during peak seasons as the volume of aircrafts in the air are at it highest and most flights are fully booked. When disruptions occur, the airlines are informed with short notice, complicating rerouting of flights and rebooking of passengers, resulting in passengers inconvenienced and impacting the airlines financial results due to revenue loss, indemnity expenses and operational costs.