SAS prepares to slim down

Mats Jansson, who took over as President and CEO of SAS in November 2006, regards the company to be in much better condition now than it was a couple of years ago.

But Jansson, who is currently working on a new savings package, also concedes that the airline is “far from being financially balanced”.

SAS is set to present a new programme to improve profitability in May of this year.

“The aim is to improve full year profits by three billion kronor. This can be done by means of rationalisation, savings and streamlining,” Jansson told news agency TT.

He declined to comment on the numbers of employees that can expect to be laid off as a result of cutbacks.

SAS has just freed up over four billion kronor from the sale of its shares in the Rezidor Hotel Group. Jansson views the move as a necessary step towards strengthening the company’s balance sheet.

“There are no plans to make any changes to our aeroplane feet. That will not happen until after 2012,” said Jansson.

In the last year SAS has been hard hit by industrial conflicts with pilots and cabin crew, and there are fresh wage negotiations in the offing for 2007.

“I have met 2,000 employees since the end of last year, including trade union representatives.

“It appears to me that the trade unions have a firm grasp of the fact that SAS has to continue streamlining,” said Jansson.


‘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.