SAS strike grounds home-bound exchange students

Among the tens of thousands of passengers affected by the SAS pilot strike are exchange students who waiting to go home.

SAS strike grounds home-bound exchange students
Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

After a year studying in Uppsala Jovi Kerr, Vikki Ogilvie and Marie Require all learned on Monday that their SAS flights home were cancelled. 

“I was originally meant to be flying yesterday to London at 3.30pm and was en route to the airport when I found out it had been cancelled,” Ogilvie, from New Zealand, told The Local.  

She is about to move to London but has had to put her plans on hold.

“It changed in my Google calendar to say it was cancelled and I had to go to the website and check the flight status to confirm, because I thought it was a glitch”.

Kerr was also headed for London, but his Tuesday flight too was cancelled.

“I wasn't emailed about the possibility of a cancellation or contacted in any way until the evening before my flight,” he said. 

“After hours of messaging them on Facebook, they finally gave me a solution, one which meant I had to leave in 30 minutes,” said Kerr. 

He finally flew to Malmö, caught a train to Copenhagen, from where he will be able to fly back to the UK. 

“I don’t blame SAS for the issues, but their customer service wasn’t helpful and I did not know where or when I'd be going”.

Jovi Kerr. Photo: Private

Marie Riquier, who was supposed to fly back to France on Tuesday afternoon, said she had received “no excuses, no warning” from the airline. 

She heard from a friend that SAS was cancelling flights and found out to her dismay that hers was affected.  

Riquier said she spent hours on Monday night trying to reach SAS. She eventually gave up before trying again on Tuesday morning.  

“I waited more than 30 minutes and one of their employees rebooked my flight for tomorrow, same schedule but without being able to confirm it 100 percent because they don’t know yet about tomorrow’s flights, if they will be cancelled or not”.

Marie needs to reach Lille in the north of France, but can't book train tickets from Paris until she knows when she'll land.

Ogilvie said the strike had forced her to postpone two important meetings.

“But SAS were as helpful as they could be,” she reckoned, even though she had to pay for her own train ticket to Copenhagen.

In spite of the turmoil, Riquier was trying to stay positive:

“I heard they take care of hotel rooms, food and drinks, so no one is really left without any solution. It could be much worse,” she said. 

But Jovi Kerr was still annoyed.

“It's all been super stressful and I don't trust SAS' Swedish pilots enough to fly with SAS again”.

With SAS pilots’ wage claims not yet satisfied, their strike is expected to continue. Negotiations reached a deadlock last Friday between the pilots' union and the employer. The parties have not even been able to agree on how much the lowest-paid pilots receive in salary.  


‘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.