More passengers taking to the skies

Scandinavian airline SAS has announced a record load factor for July, with 77 percent of seats filled.

This figure was up 3 percent on July 2004, and the total number of passengers was up 5.2 percent on a year ago.

The figures showed that the fare reductions on the company’s domestic flights in Sweden have started to attract new passengers, with the load factor on these routes up 13.6 percent to 78 percent. Load factor on many routes was affected by reductions in capacity. Capacity on SAS was down 5.4 percent.

Other SAS subsidiaries also showed promising figures. Blue 1, the group’s Finnish airline, saw its load factor rise by 20 percent to 76 percent. The number of passengers on Spanish subsidiary Spanair increased by more than ten percent, although increased capacity on the airline meant that the load factor was up only by a modest 1.3 percent.

SAS may have been helped by an overall rise in the number of people flying from Sweden’s airports. LFV, which operates most major airports, said that passenger numbers were up five percent in July, compared to the same month in 2004. The number of passengers on international flights was up seven percent, whereas figures for domestic travel were up only one percent.

The biggest growth was seen at Malmö’s Sturup airport, where passenger figures were up 11 percent on the year. Growth at Stockholm Arlanda was up 7 percent, and at Gothenburg’s Landvetter it was up 6 percent.


‘We agree to disagree’: Still no progress in marathon SAS strike talks

By lunchtime on Friday, talks between the Scandinavian airline SAS and unions representing striking pilots were still stuck on "difficult issues".

'We agree to disagree': Still no progress in marathon SAS strike talks

“We agree that we disagree,” Roger Klokset, from the Norwegian pilots’ union, said at lunchtime outside the headquarters of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise in Stockholm, where talks are taking place. “We are still working to find a solution, and so long as there is still some point in continuing negotiations, we will do that.” 

Mats Ruland, a mediator for the Norwegian government, said that there were “still several difficult issues which need to be solved”. 

At 1pm on Friday, the two sides took a short break from the talks for lunch, after starting at 9am. On Thursday, they negotiated for 15 hours, breaking off at 1am on Friday morning. 

READ ALSO: What’s the latest on the SAS plane strike?

Marianne Hernæs, SAS’s negotiator on Friday told journalists she was tired after sitting at the negotiating table long into the night. 

“We need to find a model where we can meet in the middle and which can ensure that we pull in the income that we are dependent on,” she said. 

Klokset said that there was “a good atmosphere” in the talks, and that the unions were sticking together to represent their members.

“I think we’ve been extremely flexible so far. It’s ‘out of this world’,’ said Henrik Thyregod, with the Danish pilots’ union. 

“This could have been solved back in December if SAS had not made unreasonable demands on the pilots,” Klokset added. 

The strike, which is now in its 12th day, has cost SAS up to 130m kronor a day, with 2,550 flights cancelled by Thursday, affecting 270,000 passengers.