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SAS cancels Friday flights

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12:11 CEST+02:00
Scandinavian airline SAS cancelled almost all its domestic and European flights on Friday because of a threatened cabin crew strike among the carrier's Swedish staff, the airline said on Thursday.

"We have cancelled almost all flights tomorrow, except direct flights to the US, China and some European destinations," SAS Sweden chief executive Anders Ehrling said at a press conference.

"It hurts me to make this decision, but the threat of a strike forces us to cancel flights now as we don't want to risk stranding our customers at airports tomorrow," he added.

According to a SAS spokeswoman, between 250 and 300 flights will be affected. Flights to the US, China and London will fly according to schedule as will some domestic flights and flights to Copenhagen, Oslo and Helsinki.

A decision was to be made on Friday morning regarding possible cancellations of Saturday flights and the airline encouraged customers to follow the SAS web site for updates.

Negotiations between SAS and the cabin crew union, which belongs to the Swedish Salaried Employees' Union (HTF), are to continue Thursday.

"We will continue to negotiate in order to find a solution," Ehrling said, adding that there was no indication as to how long the conflict might continue.

The cabin crew union has called on the airline's 800 cabin staff to strike from 3am Friday unless there is an agreement with management on working conditions.

SAS management has threatened a lock out from May 28.

While SAS management had accepted two proposals put forward by mediators, HTF officials rejected both.

According to Ehrling, HTF has presented SAS management with a list of 38 demands, including changes in staff meal times.

Some 20,000 passengers are expected to be hit by the strike that is estimated to cost SAS over 20 million kronor ($2.92 million).

A three-day strike by SAS' Danish cabin crew last month led to the cancellation of 685 flights in and out of Copenhagen.

SAS was already hit in March by a similar strike after the airline failed to reach a collective agreement with the 1,600-member Cabin Attendants Union.

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