SAS shares soar on union deal rumours

The price of stock in Scandinavian airline SAS rose by 9 percent on Wednesday morning following news that the company was close to securing a deal with unions over lower wages and unsatisfactory employment conditions.

SAS shares soar on union deal rumours

“We’re negotiating and it’s moving in the right direction,” Nicholas Fischer, union chairman for the HK Luftfart labour group, told the Jyllands-posten newspaper.

The newspaper also reported that the agreement may help SAS compete on equal terms with budget airlines.

However, even if SAS leadership reaches an agreement with the union, several details still need to be worked out.

As usual, the battle-hardened Danish unions are the most difficult to reach a consensus with, according to TT.

“Nothing is final. So many parties are involved in this complicated negotiations process,” said SAS’s Chief Information Officer, Bertil Ternert, to the TT news agency.

“But negotiations are proceeding in a positive spirit.”

SAS’s latest budget cutbacks totaled around two billion kronor ($285 million), and the company hopes to cut costs by 6.5 billion kronor by the year 2011.

The end result would mean around 4,500 fewer jobs and salary cuts of between 10 to 20 percent.

The largest hit is expected to be taken by SAS’s Danish and Norwegian staff who have higher salaries and better employment conditions than their Swedish counterparts.

“There is nothing concrete to report about out negotiations with company leadership which continue to progress. Our next date with SAS management is planned for next week and it can’t really be said that the state of things has changed since we began negotiations,” said Pelle Gustafsson, chairman of the cabin crew union for SAS in Sweden.

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‘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.