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SAS pilots still set to strike on Friday

Scandanavian Airlines and Swedish, Norwegian and Danish pilots are still negotiating to avert a walkout on April 26.

After a group representing SAS pilots in all three Scandinavian countries announced in early April industrial action if an agreement with the airline could not be reached, negotiations broke down and further talks have begun yet again before the strike deadline of Friday, April 26.

Representatives of the parties began the last minute negotiations in Denmark on Monday, and talks will also continue in Norway and Sweden this week.

The meeting in Norway on Wednesday will include a state mediator.

SAS Pilot Group consists of the Danish Pilot Association, the Norwegian SAS Airline Association, Scandinavian Norway Flygerforening and the Swedish Pilot Association, which together represent about 95% of all SAS pilots in the three countries.

Approximately 1,500 SAS pilots might refuse to fly if an agreement cannot be reached.

Both parties say they hope the strike can be avoided.

“We hope we come to an agreement,” SAS spokesman Knut Morten Johansen told news bureau NTB on Tuesday.

“Negotiations will continue up until the last minute. It is a difficult situation and it is hard to get the company to discuss the issues, but we are hopeful we will succeed,” said Wilhelm Tersmeden, head of the Swedish pilot union’s SAS branch.

Considerable differences
Although several issues are on the table, work hours, scheduling and a pay increase are all major sticking points.

The newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported earlier this month that the pilots in Norway want a pay raise of approximately ten percent, though the newspaper notes they are among the top ten earning professions in Norway.

The pilots asserted during the negotiations earlier in the month that SAS has achieved a profit of SEK 3.8 billion (€365 million) over the last two financial years, which has been of little direct benefit to them, and so they are asking for a market adjustment of their salaries.

The pilots had also earlier said that most of them have no control over when or how long they work, even having to work for multiple consecutive weekends in some cases.

DN further reports that an SAS pilot works an average of 179 days a year, compared to around 220 for most other workers.

If the disagreements between the parties on these issues cannot be resolved, then SAS passengers might face cancellations or severe delays starting Friday.

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