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AIRLINES

BA strike set to hit Swedish flights

Travellers between Sweden and the UK face delays and cancellations this weekend due to a strike by British Airways cabin crew, with three out of five flights from Stockholm to London cancelled on Sunday.

BA strike set to hit Swedish flights

A three day strike will begin at midnight on Saturday, with a four-day strike due to start on 27th March. The strike looked certain to go ahead after talks between BA and the Unite union broke down on Friday afternoon.

BA has promised to keep as many flights as possible in the air, and has drafted in staff from other parts of the company to replace the striking crew. But travellers flying between Stockholm and London will still face severe disruption, according to a provisional schedule published by the airline.

Three out of five scheduled flights between Stockholm Arlanda and London Heathrow have been cancelled in both directions on both Sunday and Monday, according to BA’s latest timetable. From Stockholm to London, only the 11:45 and 18:55 services will be operating normally. Tuesday will be slightly better, with the 15:05 flight also running.

Tomorrow (Saturday), the first day of the strike, will see only one cancellation from Arlanda to Heathrow, at 15:05. Two out of four flights from London to Stockholm have been cancelled, however.

The strike will have an even greater effect in Copenhagen, where only one flight will be operating on both Sunday and Monday. British Airways is advising those with tickets to keep checking their online timetable for up-to-date flight information. Passengers whose flights have been cancelled should not come to the airport, it advises on its website.

For those planning to connect with a BA flight in London the uncertainty is set to be even greater, although the company’s CEO Willie Walsh has said he expects more than 60 percent of long-haul flights to operate.

British Airways is offering refunds or alternative flight dates to passengers whose flights are cancelled.

Unite has called the strike in response to cost-cutting by BA. The airline has made cuts to the number of cabin crew on long-haul flights and imposed a two-year pay freeze from this year. BA also wants to pay new recruits significantly less than current staff members. The airline claims it must reduce costs after suffering a pre-tax loss of £342 million for the nine months to December 2009.

Are you planning to travel between Stockholm or Copenhagen and London with BA this weekend? How has the strike affected your plans? Let us know!

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SAS

Swedish pilots fail to reach deal with SAS

A deal between Swedish pilots and Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) is being automatically extended a week at a time after the agreement ended at midnight on Tuesday.

Swedish pilots fail to reach deal with SAS
Negotiations between Swedish pilots' unions and SAS are ongoing. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Meanwhile, their Danish counterparts penned a new deal with SAS at the eleventh hour.

"Together with the Danish Pilots' Association, we have taken a great step forward and signed an agreement that reflects today's competition in the market," said SAS CEO Rickard Gustafson in a press release.

"Negotiations have been long and at times intense, but they have always been constructive and carried out in a good tone. SAS wishes to keep the Scandinavian model, with deals on effective and competitive conditions. The demands are necessary and essential to maintain our Scandinavian work places," Niels Møller, chairman of Danish pilots' union DPF added.

SAS has previously said it wants to simplify the current, very detailed, agreement. The company also wants greater flexibility to appoint seasonal workers. Current staffing levels are adapted to the summer season, when the airline carries more passengers, which creates higher costs during the not as busy winter months.

The company said its ambition is to sign similar deals with its Swedish and Norwegian pilots, but had by midnight on Tuesday failed to come to an agreement.

The deal with Swedish pilots' unions will now continue to be extended on a weekly basis until June 1st at the latest, unless either party terminates it before then.

“This gives the parties a bit of breathing space to find a solution,” Tommy Larsson of pilots' union 'Svensk pilotförening' told news wire TT.

The union has so far not wanted to comment on its own position.

“I can't say anything else at present. Negotiations are ongoing and we will see where they head,” Larsson told TT.

Earlier this month, both SAS and Norwegian pilots went on strike in Scandinavia to protest their wages and conditions.

Norwegian — Europe's third-largest budget airline — struck a deal with pilots after an eleven day walkout affecting around 200,000 passengers.

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