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New pilots' strike threatens major airlines

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16:36 CEST+02:00
Tens of thousands of Swedish airline passengers face being grounded on Wednesday after talks to avert a pilots' strike broke down.

Some 2,000 pilots on Swedish domestic flights will not turn up to work, causing travel chaos for around 23,000 passengers. The strike has been called by the Swedish Airline Pilots' Association (Svensk Pilotförening -SPF), and will start at 5am.

The pilots are striking over the decision by some airlines to use pilots from agencies instead of employing them directly.

The strike is primarily aimed at four small regional airlines, but now pilots on domestic services at SAS and at Malmö Aviation have been called out in secondary action. Pilots at these two airlines will withdraw their labour for eight hours until 1pm.

Pilots working for the four small airlines at the centre of the dispute - Avia Express, Avitrans Nordic, Golden Air and Svenska Direktflyg - will strike for three days. This will principally affect passengers on Skyways and Sverigeflyg, which charter planes from some of the other airlines.

In total, 230 departures will be cancelled if the strike goes ahead.

Malmö Aviation will be forced to call off 30 flights, affecting about 2,500 passengers. Delays and cancellations will be likely even after the strike officially ends at 1pm, the airline said on Tuesday.

Union chairman Gunnar Mandahl said the main point of contention was new staffing policies at the airlines:

“Avia Express is making its 80 pilots redundant on 17th July and wants to bring in external pilots. The employer's idea it that they will create their own company, which would mean much worse conditions for the pilots who are brought in.”

The dispute follows a three day strike by pilots at the smaller airlines last week.

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