Swedish SAS bosses face claims of bullying

An anonymous poll of flight crew at Scandinavian airline SAS has uncovered accounts of sexual harassment, discrimination and bullying among its Stockholm-based staff.

Swedish SAS bosses face claims of bullying
Swedish airline workers have complained of discrimination. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/SCANPIX

A total of 387 members of the SAS cabin crew filled out the survey, with the results published by Sweden's TT newswire on Wednesday, painting a picture of workplace discrimination and harassment at Scandinavia's biggest airline.

Replying to the internal poll, which was launched by SAS in June, 170 respondents claimed they had felt discriminated against in the workplace, 109 said they had experienced bullying and 38 suggested they had been victims of sexual harassment. 

“I think it's a special situation at our workplace, because it's often women doing the sexual harassment and bullying,” one unnamed SAS worker told TT.

Many of the accusations were directed at line managers and senior employees.

“These problems have been highlighted several times before, but often the one who pointed out the issues was identified as an over-sensitive whiner and mocked by supervisors,” said another anonymous staff member.

A trade union which represents flight staff declined to comment on the survey, but a press spokesperson for SAS pledged on Wednesday that they would take action.

“We take this very seriously. We have zero tolerance when it comes to this,” Henrik Edström told TT.

A similar survey in 2012 highlighted problems in several of the same areas. Edström said staff would now receive training in a move to put an end to the alleged bullying and sexual harassment for good.

“It's a question of awareness, and this survey is part of that. We are also in discussions with our human resources department about how to move forward,” he said.

It is not the first time SAS has hit the headlines over its working conditions this year. In March, pilots walked out to protest their wages in a strike that lasted four days.

And similar industrial action, over collective agreement and staffing levels, was only called off at the eleventh hour after dramatic overnight negotiations between the airline and unions in May.


SAS announces reduced loss and pins hopes on summer flights

Scandinavian airline SAS narrowed its losses in the second quarter, the company said Thursday, as it set its hopes on an easing of coronavirus restrictions this summer.

SAS announces reduced loss and pins hopes on summer flights
A SAS aircraft taking off in Paris. Photo: Charles Platiau/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix

The earnings report came a day after the governments of Sweden and Denmark announced another round of aid to the ailing carrier.

From February to April, SAS booked a net loss of 2.43 billion Swedish kronor ($292 million, 240 million euros) — 30 percent smaller than in the second quarter last year.

The company also reported an improved operating profit “for the first time since the pandemic’s outbreak, both year-on-year and compared with the previous quarter,” pointing to its cost cutting efforts.

However, the number of passengers in the period declined by 140,000 compared to the first quarter, to 857,000.

This caused revenue to fall to 1.93 billion kronor, a 15 percent drop from the preceding quarter and 63 percent from a year earlier.

“The increase in vaccination rates provides some hope for the relaxation of restrictions, and an increase in demand ahead of the important summer season,” chief executive Karl Sandlund said in a statement.

However, the CEO also noted that “many customers are now increasingly choosing to book their tickets much closer to their travel dates, which makes it difficult to predict demand during the summer.”

SAS also said it expected claims from passengers of up to 150 million kronor after a European court ruled in March that customers should be compensated over disruptions due to a pilots’ strike in 2019.

After cutting 5,000 jobs last year — representing 40 percent of its workforce — SAS announced Wednesday an additional credit line of three billion kronor from the Danish and Swedish governments, its main shareholders, to get through the crisis.

The airline received a similar loan and a capital increase last year.

READ ALSO: Virus-stricken airline SAS secures new public loan from Denmark and Sweden