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Sweden cancels flights due to Iceland ash cloud

Around 20 flights to and from Gothenburg's Landvetter airport have been cancelled due to ash from Iceland's Grimsvötn volcano, which swept into Sweden on Tuesday night.

Sweden cancels flights due to Iceland ash cloud

Both domestic and foreign routes scheduled for Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning will be affected, according to TV4 news in Gothenburg.

According to the latest forecasts, the ash cloud is set to reach parts of southwestern Sweden on Tuesday evening and spread further toward the northeast during the night and into Wednesday morning.

“A high concentration of ash is going to create a swath between Landvetter and just south of (Stockholm airport) Arlanda at 2am tonight. No planes will be allowed to fly there,” Lars-Eric Blad of the Swedish Transport Agency (Transportstyrelsen) told the TT news agency.

As the flight ban will likely be limited to the nighttime hours, the only flights expected to be affected are postal flights and other air traffic to and from Landvetter.

For the time being, Arlanda is outside the restricted zone.

Airport operator Swedavia, which operates 11 airports in Sweden including Landvetter, said on its website Tuesday night that additional cancellations could occur at other airports run by the company.

“We encourage travelers to keep themselves updated on the situation and contact their airlines regarding information about their own trips,” said Swedavia.

The Transport Agency decided on Monday that restrictions would be put in place as soon as the ash cloud reached Sweden.

The restrictions have three levels: low, medium-high, and high concentrations of ash.

Scandinavian airline SAS said it has only been marginally affected by the ash cloud, but several flights from Norway and Copenhagen to Scotland have been cancelled.

“In Sweden, the effects are the same today as they were on Monday. Flights from Stockholm to the United States have a somewhat longer route,” SAS spokesperson Malin Selander told TT.

SAS requested and was granted permission in Norway to fly in so-called “gray ash zones” with medium-high concentrations of ash.

The company expects to be able to maintain more or less normal air traffic during the evening, according to Norwegian news agency NTB.

SAS also received permission to fly in areas over Sweden and Denmark with medium-high ash concentration, according to the decision.

Tour operators have also only been slightly affected so far.

On Tuesday night, a Fritidsresor flight from Las Palmas scheduled to land at Landvetter was redirected to Malmö instead.

“We can’t forget that today there is a totally different readiness within the airline industry to be able to fly, even when there is ash,” said Lottie Knutsson, a spokesperson with Fritidsresor.

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SAS

‘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. 

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