SAS faces headache as Spanair pilots threaten strike

Spanair pilots threatened to strike on Wednesday in protest that the loss-making airline, owned by Nordic carrier SAS, lacked a plan to save itself.

SAS put Spanair up for sale in 2007, but beset by high fuel costs, falling demand and overcapacity in the Spanish market, both Iberia and former owners, Spanish travel company Marsans, pulled out of the bidding.

Spanair remains the main drag on SAS, losing 515 million Swedish crowns ($80.90 million) in the first half of 2008. SAS has announced plans to cut 25 percent of Spanair’s capacity and shed 1,062 jobs.

“This union believes the organised chaos in which the company exists can’t continue, and … it will take the necessary steps to issue a strike call,” Spanish airline pilot union Sepla said in a statement.

The Palma de Mallorca based airline was not immediately available to comment on the strike threat.

Management have said they intend to turn the airline around in the next two to three years before restarting the sale process.

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary told Reuters on Wednesday he was already looking forward to picking up Spanair landing slots at Madrid’s Barajas airport in what he said was the likely event of it going bust.