Hundreds of Swedish pilots go on strike

UPDATED: Around 400 Scandinavian Airlines pilots walked out after talks between unions and employers broke down on Friday.

Hundreds of Swedish pilots go on strike
Passengers at Arlanda airport on Friday. Photo: Sören Andersson/TT

In Sweden, the pilots’ union is asking for salary adjustments and greater job security from the airline. After talks ended at 6pm on Friday with no solution found, some 400 pilots walked out in a massive strike.

“The Swedish pilots union has called 400 members on short-haul flights out on strike. Both domestic and European flights from Sweden are cancelled,” SAS said in a statement.

Some 40 flights flown by pilots based at Stockholm's Arlanda airport were immediately cancelled after the strike broke out at 6pm. SAS said it estimated the strike would affect 3000-4000 passengers.

“It’s extremely unpleasant and difficult to digest,” Mattias Dahl, president of Svenska Flygbranschen, told news agency TT earlier in the day.

Dahl’s organization, which represents the employer in the negotiations, had agreed to an offer from mediators of an overall cost increase of 2.2 percent. The offer was rejected by the pilots’ union however, who Dahl claimed continues to demand a “roughly 10 percent” increase.

The Swedish pilots’ union contested Dahl’s assessment however, with their vice chairman Wilhelm Tersmeden stating that the union is “not at all in agreement” with the employer’s assertion that they are asking for a 10 percent cost increase.

“We call for a 3.5 increase in salaries, and beyond that, we call for clarity and orderliness in the agreements,” Tersmeden told TT. “Furthermore, we demand that there should be the same salary system for newly hired SAS pilots as there is for those employed for a longer time.”

Unlike in Sweden, travellers in Norway can breathe a sigh of relief after a SAS strike there was avoided, when the union representing 435 of the airline’s pilots came to terms on late Thursday afternoon. The agreement means that all SAS flights to and from Norway will go ahead as planned, according to a SAS press release.

SAS is fifty percent owned by the Danish, Norwegian and Swedish states.