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SAS strike looms as pilot talks fail

SAS pilots in Denmark, Norway and Sweden warn that a strike will start on April 26 if mediation between the two sides fails.

A group representing SAS pilots in all three Scandinavian countries has been negotiating with the airline for a new agreement. But the negotiations have now broken down.

If mediation between the two sides also fails, there will be a pilots’ strike after Easter, starting from April 26.

The news comes after two years of peace. SAS Pilot Group, an umbrella body created just over a year ago for four national pilots’ associations, announced the strike after the negotiations in Denmark fell apart.

According to the pilots, there are three elements that separate the parties – cooperation agreements, predictable working hours and wages on market terms.

“Most pilots at SAS have no control over when or how long they have to work. […] At worst, pilots run the risk of having to work for seven consecutive weekends. This is unsustainable. Being able to plan your life is a great burden, and so we are demanding greater predictability in the schedules,” protests Wilhelm Tersmeden, SAS Pilot Group chairman.

Wage adjustment
As for the demand for market wages, the pilots have taken note that SAS has achieved a profit of SEK 3.8 billion (€365 million) over the last two financial years, of little direct benefit to them.

“In fact, we have asked SAS for a market adjustment of our salary,” Tersmeden continues.

“The pilots have for several years contributed to the profitability of SAS. Previously, SAS would always compare us with other airlines. Though wages and working times are worse than at other serious airlines, SAS refuses to discuss the issue of market-based pay.”

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.

Little sympathy
SAS is not showing much sympathy, however.

“We want a strong, long-term and competitive SAS. The demands of our pilot associations do not contribute to accountability in a very competitive market,” says Mariam Skovfoged, communications manager for SAS in Denmark.

“However, we still have a clear expectation that we will reach agreement, just as we have done with all of our other employee groups. We are ready to negotiate and believe that we will find a solution for the benefit of the airline and our customers.”

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