SAS cancels more than 1,200 additional flights

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Ritzau/AFP/The Local - [email protected]
SAS cancels more than 1,200 additional flights
File photo of a SAS flight at Copenhagen Airport. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Scanpix

SAS will cancel 1,213 flights on Monday and Tuesday as a result of an ongoing pilot strike, the Scandinavian airline said on Sunday.


The additional cancellations, which add to the hundreds of flights scrapped since Friday, are a result of a strike by SAS pilots in Denmark, Sweden and Norway. 
A total of 110,000 passengers are expected to be hit by the Monday and Tuesday cancellations. According to the airline, this brings the number of affected passengers up to 279,334. Some 2,802 departures have been cancelled since Friday.
“We deeply regret that our customers are affected by the ongoing strike,” the airline wrote in a press release. 
SAS said in the press release that passengers who have purchased tickets with the company for travel up to and including May 5th can change and/or cancel their tickets at no cost. 
Earlier on Sunday, it was reported that SAS plans to reject compensation claims from affected customers. The airline contends that the strike is out of its immediate control.
The pilot strike is due to a conflict between Scandinavia-based pilots and SAS over both pay and working hours. Among other things, the pilots want a greater degree of predictability when it comes to their work shifts. As things stand today, many pilots only learn of their work schedules with a 14-day notice. 
According to the Danish pilots’ union Dansk Pilotforening, the lack of predictability means that pilots sometimes have to work as many as seven weekends in a row.
“We expect that one can get the same terms of service as other low-cost carriers. SAS should not be the worst place to work as a pilot. We do not have unreasonable demands, and we have tried to find a solution with SAS,” Henrik Thyregod, the vice-chairman of Dansk Pilotforening, said on Friday.
According to media reports, Swedish pilots are also allegedly demanding a 13 percent wage increase. They were allegedly offered 2.3 percent wage increases. Salary demands of the Danish and Norwegian pilots have not been confirmed. 
The Swedish Confederation of Transport Enterprises insists it cannot accept a demand for a 13-percent wage increase, given Swedish pilots' "already high average wage of 93,000 kronor [€8,766, $9,769] a month".
As of Sunday afternoon, it was uncertain when SAS and its pilots would meet again to continue negotiations. 
Wilhelm Tersmeden, a spokesperson for the Swedish pilots’ union Svensk Pilotförening, told Swedish news agency TT that there are “no negotiations” ongoing and that the union is instead meeting internally with its members. 
In a video message released on Friday, SAS CEO Rickard Gustafson vowed to "do everything in our power to end the conflict as soon as possible." 
SAS has implemented repeated savings programmes in recent years to improve its profitability, after almost going bankrupt in 2012. In the first quarter of 2019, the airline widened its losses, impacted by negative exchange effects and high fuel prices. It posted a net loss of 469 million Swedish kronor, compared to 249 million a year earlier.
Although the carrier forecast a full-year profit, Danish bank Sydbank on Friday predicted the strike would cost SAS 60 to 80 million kronor ($6 million to $8 million) per day.


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