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Norwegian ultimatum: accept our terms or leave

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Norwegian ultimatum: accept our terms or leave
Norwegian aeroplanes at Arlanda airport. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT
15:10 CET+01:00
UPDATED: Swedish pilots have been given an ultimatum on the seventh day of a Norwegian pilots' strike: agree to the new terms or lose your jobs, reported Norway's broadcaster NRK.

The conflicting parties were in meetings during the afternoon, after being told Swedish pilots had until 4pm on Friday to agree to be transferred to Norwegian’s new subsidiary, Pilot Services Sweden AB.

According to NRK the Swedish pilots had been sent a letter saying: "If you do not wish to be transferred from Norwegian Air Norway AS to Pilot Services Sweden AB, you have to inform Norwegian by 4pm on March 6th". Norwegian pilots have been given two weeks to reply and Danish pilots no deadline at all, which is due to the different legislation in the three countries.

But on Friday afternoon it was still unclear whether or not the pilots’ unions were ready to accept the terms.

“We’ve told our members to sit still in the boat,” Swedish Pilots’ Association chairman Martin Lindgren said at a press conference on Friday.

But Charlotte Holmbergh Jacobsson, Norwegian press officer, told Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet that the letter is not a threat.

"It's a formality and not a threat in any way. This is to help them choose, if they don't want to join in they are welcome to say no," she said.

The afternoon meetings come after pilots' unions on Thursday rejected a surprise move by Norwegian Air Shuttle to split its subsidiary Norwegian Air Norway (NAN) into three and transfer its pilots to the new subsidiaries in Sweden, Denmark and Norway.

They denounced the bid as an attempt to divide and rule the 700 pilots on strike.

“What has now happened changes nothing. We mean that CEO Bjorn Kjos cannot do what he has now done. As an employer he has no authority to decide over employees who are on strike,” leader of pilots' union Parat, Hans-Erik Skjaeggerud, said in a statement to news agency Reuters.

The main point of contention is that pilots employed by NAN want to maintain a collective agreement with the parent company in the hope of safeguarding their jobs and to standardize salary conditions for all pilots employed in the various Scandinavian subsidiaries.

Norwegian, which last year suffered its first loss in eight years, is looking to reduce the costs and benefits for pilots, and increase job flexibility.

All 700 pilots employed by NAN are on strike and 800 cabin staff were sent home without pay in a Norwegian-imposed lockout.

Meanwhile, it was another day of travel chaos as the budget airline cancelled as good as all of its flights in Sweden, Norway and Denmark on Friday.

Flights between Scandinavia and the UK, the US and Thailand would not be affected, said the company, but cancelled most domestic flights and routes between and within the Scandinavian countries.

The airline said in a statement that it would make all efforts possible not to let the strike affect other routes within Europe.

Are you affected by the travel chaos? Let us know in the comments section below.

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