SAS sputters back to life after five-day strike

SAS sputters back to life after five-day strike
SAS plane prepares for landing at Arlanda Airport, Stockholm. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT
After five days of turmoil most SAS flights are expected to run on schedule on Wednesday - but some passengers will remain grounded in Sweden.

The strike came to end on Tuesday afternoon after the Swedish pilots’ union SPF agreed to a 2.2-percent wage hike, along with an improved wage scale for young pilots. 

SAS expects full service to resume on Thursday. 

“There are approximately 340 flights running today but around 50 departures are cancelled,” SAS spokeswoman Anna Mansell told the TT newswire. 

She advises any passenger planning to fly on Wednesday to check the company’s website for a list of cancelled flights

Some 100,000 passengers were hit by the strike after negotiations broke down between the pilot union and SAS. 

The pilots had wanted a 3.5-percent rise, and airline industry analyst Mats Hyttinger described their strike as “not much of a success”.

“It’s costly in terms of reputation, both for the airline and the pilots. It’s questionable whether it was worth it.” 

SAS, which is 50-percent owned by the Swedish, Danish and Norwegian states, has said it did not calculate how much money it was losing because of the strike, but financial analysts estimated it was costing the airline at least $1.2 million a day.

SAS has come under increasing pressure in recent years from low-cost rivals including Scandinavia-based Norwegian, Europe's third-largest budget airline.

While SAS returned to profit in 2015, it managed net earnings of only 171 million kronor ($20.6 million) in the second quarter of this year despite low fuel costs due to fierce competition and exchange rate swings.