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500 flights cancelled for Wednesday as SAS pilots continue strike

01 May 2019, 00:37 ( 3 Months ago) | updated: 01 May 2019, 00:42 ( 3 Months ago)

DF-Xinhua Report
Airplanes of Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) wait at Arlanda Airport, Stockholm, Sweden, April 27, 2019. File Photo Xinhua.

As the Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) pilot strike continues for a fifth day, a further 47,000 passengers will be affected on Wednesday as Scandinavian Airlines cancels over 500 flights.

   On Tuesday, 546 departures were cancelled, affecting 48,000 passengers. According to SAS, a total of 3,306 flights have now been cancelled as a result of the strike, causing inconvenience to 326,917 travellers.

   "I am deeply concerned that the pilot strike hasn't been resolved and that it is continuing to affect our customers. The consequences are serious for all travelers, for society and also for all our employees who are working around the clock to help everyone," SAS President and CEO Rickard Gustafson said in a press release on Tuesday afternoon.

   The strike began last Friday after last-minute negotiations between SAS and the Swedish Air Line Pilots Association broke down. As a result, 492 Swedish SAS pilots went on strike, followed by 545 Norwegian and 372 Danish colleagues.

   On Tuesday morning, no progress in the negotiations had been made.

   "SAS has clearly stated that we are prepared to continue negotiating and find a solution," Gustafson said in Tuesday's press release. "The unions have not yet indicated that they are ready to release their ultimate demands and return to the negotiating table, which means that we remain in a deadlock."

   Spokesperson for the Swedish Air Line Pilots Association Wilhelm Tersmeden said the ball lies in the airline's court.

   "We are ready to talk, our phones are around the clock. It's absolutely awful that passengers are getting caught up in this," Tersmeden told Swedish News SVT on Tuesday. "The responsibility lies with SAS; they have to treat us pilots as other companies treat their pilots."

   SAS pilots are striking for a bilateral workplace agreement that will improve conditions by raising pilots' salaries and offering pilots more certainty around rostering.

   "Today's scheduling rules are unsustainable. The majority of SAS pilots do not have fixed schedules, but work according to a variable roster. Not being able to plan your life is a big strain and we have therefore demanded greater predictability. Everyone who has a family life can imagine how demanding it is to not know when you're going to work," said Tersmeden in a press release on April 26, when the strike began.

   "SAS must start working with its employees to develop the company. We are prepared for the strike to be prolonged," Tersmeden said.

   SAS is the leading airline in Scandinavia, operating a third of all flights to and from the region. While the airline is an important link across Scandinavia, it also runs long-haul international flights to the U.S. and Asia. Domestic, European and long-haul flights will be affected by the strike.