SAS strike could ground passengers

Swedish cabin staff at Scandinavian airline SAS could go on strike on Thursday as negotiations over a new pay deal broke down.

Negotiations between the airline and unions have been stalled since last week. SAS Sweden had accepted a new proposal for a deal put forward by a mediator, but union HTF rejected the offer. The major sticking point is the working hours of cabin staff.

“We are now stopping our mediation. We are at the disposal of the parties, but the ball is now in their court,” mediator Peter Ander told news agency TT.

SAS Sweden spokesman Lars Andersen said it was “most unfortunate” that HTF had rejected the mediator’s proposal.

“We need to quickly restart dialogue with HTF, so we can unite around a new collective agreement before October 5th,” he said.

A failure to reach agreement could mean 1,000 cabin staff going on strike on Thursday. A strike would ground most of SAS Sweden’s 300 departures, and hit around 30,000 passengers.

“If this happens, we ask travellers to contact the company from which they purchased their tickets,” Andersen said.

Next week could also see SAS Denmark staff walk out, if unions and management there don’t sign a new collective agreement.


SAS announces reduced loss and pins hopes on summer flights

Scandinavian airline SAS narrowed its losses in the second quarter, the company said Thursday, as it set its hopes on an easing of coronavirus restrictions this summer.

SAS announces reduced loss and pins hopes on summer flights
A SAS aircraft taking off in Paris. Photo: Charles Platiau/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix

The earnings report came a day after the governments of Sweden and Denmark announced another round of aid to the ailing carrier.

From February to April, SAS booked a net loss of 2.43 billion Swedish kronor ($292 million, 240 million euros) — 30 percent smaller than in the second quarter last year.

The company also reported an improved operating profit “for the first time since the pandemic’s outbreak, both year-on-year and compared with the previous quarter,” pointing to its cost cutting efforts.

However, the number of passengers in the period declined by 140,000 compared to the first quarter, to 857,000.

This caused revenue to fall to 1.93 billion kronor, a 15 percent drop from the preceding quarter and 63 percent from a year earlier.

“The increase in vaccination rates provides some hope for the relaxation of restrictions, and an increase in demand ahead of the important summer season,” chief executive Karl Sandlund said in a statement.

However, the CEO also noted that “many customers are now increasingly choosing to book their tickets much closer to their travel dates, which makes it difficult to predict demand during the summer.”

SAS also said it expected claims from passengers of up to 150 million kronor after a European court ruled in March that customers should be compensated over disruptions due to a pilots’ strike in 2019.

After cutting 5,000 jobs last year — representing 40 percent of its workforce — SAS announced Wednesday an additional credit line of three billion kronor from the Danish and Swedish governments, its main shareholders, to get through the crisis.

The airline received a similar loan and a capital increase last year.

READ ALSO: Virus-stricken airline SAS secures new public loan from Denmark and Sweden