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Strike grounds Swedish domestic flights

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12:57 CEST+02:00
Thousands of passengers on Swedish internal flights are facing delays and cancellations after 230 pilots working for four regional airlines went on strike on Thursday morning.

The strike, which will continue until 11pm on Friday, came after talks broke down between the Swedish Airline Pilots' Association (Svensk Pilotförening) and employers' representatives at Flygarbetsgivarna (FlygA).

The union objects to demands from employers for cuts to pensions, increased working hours and reduced wages. The union is also concerned about increased use of employment agencies, and is demanding that pilots should be employed directly by the airline for which they work.

FlygA chief negotiator Elisabeth Holming-Schiller said she was “very disappointed” that the strike was going ahead:

“The companies have, despite their straitened circumstances with falling passenger numbers and the effects of the ash cloud, worked hard to guarantee industrial harmony.”

Gunnar Mandahl, chairman of the Swedish Airline Pilots' Association, blamed the airlines for the breakdown of talks:

“Notice was given of strike action in order to get the talks moving. The fact that the employers are choosing not to meet our requests in a constructive way means that we seem unfortunately to be heading for a conflict.”

The largest airline affected by the strike is Skyways, which has an extensive network of domestic routes in Sweden. Some 200 Skyways departures are cancelled, affected 4,500 passengers.

Sverigeflyg, which serves nine destinations in Sweden, has also been affected by the strike. The airline does not operate its own fleet, instead using planes run by charter companies. All Sverigeflyg's services have been cancelled.

“We can only deplore the fact that the pilots are choosing not to negotiate, but to go out on strike,” Sverigeflyg said in a written statement on Thursday.

Other airlines affected are Direktflyg, which flies five domestic Swedish routes and Golden Air, which flies between Stockholm and Trollhättan.

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