Swedish pilot strike hits 20,000 passengers

Swedish pilot strike hits 20,000 passengers
159 flights are affected with up to 20,000 passengers affected. Photo: Mikael Fritzon/TT
The strike by 400 Scandinavian Airlines pilots, called on Friday evening after talks broke down between the Swedish Pilots 'Association (SPF) and the employers' organisation, hit air passengers hard on Saturday with more than 150 flights cancelled.

On Friday evening, after months of negotiations, the SPF rejected the mediators' proposal of a 2.2 percent wage increase, insisting on a 3.5 percent increase.

The employers' organisation insisted however that the pilots' overall demands, including employment contracts offering greater job security, would entail a 10 percent cost increase.

According to Karin Nyman, Communications Director at SAS, 159 flights are affected with up to 20,000 passengers affected.

“We are working flat out to help all travelers to book new flights. We have no idea how long this will last.”

Stefan Chatzopoulos, spokesman for the tour operator Airtours, told Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet that his company has 4,500-5,000 passengers affected by the strike.

“Normally the union provides exemptions for charter flights but they have not done it this time. There is a big difference in sorting out a scheduled flight from Paris, for example, in comparison with a flight from a small Greek holiday island, where there are no alternative options.”

“However, generally, it is an extremely heavy travel period, especially with the European Championships, so it is very difficult to find alternative flights at all.”

No date has been set yet for new negotiations.

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 part-owned by the Danish, Norwegian and Swedish states.