What’s the latest advice for handling the Arlanda airport chaos?

Overcrowding over the weekend at Sweden’s Arlanda airport has resulted in temporary road and terminal closures. Police expect crowds and long queues to continue at Arlanda on Sunday.

Queue for security check in Sky City at Arlanda Airport on Saturday, June 11th.
Queue for security check in Sky City at Arlanda Airport on Saturday, June 11th. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

What’s happening?

Arlanda Airport in Stockholm has been hit with chaos this weekend, as understaffing has led to crowding and long queues.

On Saturday, the crowding and queuing at Arlanda’s outbound Terminal 5 was so severe that travellers had to be diverted to Terminals 2 and 4.

To relieve the pressure, it was decided that the Arlanda Express would not stop at Terminal 5’s station, Arlanda North, for a few hours on Saturday afternoon and early Sunday morning.

EXPLAINED: What can I do if I miss my flight due to Sweden’s airport chaos?

The road to terminal 5 was also closed early on Sunday morning. The police were on site to redirect traffic to terminals 2 and 4 and travellers had to proceed from there to terminal 5.

What’s the latest advice for travellers?

The police have advised passengers to avoid driving to the airport. Police spokesman Ola Österling said: “Avoid as much as possible taking the car to Arlanda and use public transport instead. It may also be a good idea to go to one of the long-term parking lots and use public transport from there to the terminal, which will mean fewer cars at the terminal.”

Swedavia, the company which runs the airport has attributed some of the chaos to many travellers arriving far too early before departure and now advises passengers not to come too far in advance.

Spokesman for Swedavia, David Karlsson said: “The general recommendation is two to three hours. But some people arrive up to eight hours before their flight, which means that the terminal is sometimes far too crowded,” says.

 He also added that, where possible, passengers should check-in digitally.

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UPDATE: SAS pilots extend strike talks until midday on Monday

Pilot unions in Sweden, Denmark and Norway have agreed to extend talks with the SAS airline until midday on Monday, after a deadline on Saturday passed without a deal. SAS flights scheduled for this weekend will fly as normal.

UPDATE: SAS pilots extend strike talks until midday on Monday

The Swedish pilots’ union SPF and other unions have been negotiating for weeks, with the deadline for a strike extended from midnight on Friday, to 11am on Saturday morning, and now until midday on Monday.

“We need to sleep, no one has slept with us for a very long time,” SAS’s chief negotiator, Marianne Hernæs, told Sweden’s TT newswire.

“We’ll meet again tomorrow. Now I am going home and sleeping, I have not slept for many hours,” Keld Bækkelund Hansen, leader of the Danish trade union Dansk Metal, told Denmark’s Ritzau newswire. 

Hernæs said that the two sides were still “extremely far away from one another” when it came to their positions. 

On June 9, the pilot unions of Sweden, Norway, and Denmark submitted their notice to strike on June 29th, with the strike then postponed until July 1st, then again until July 2nd, and now until Monday the 4th. If negotiations do not succeed, 900 pilots could go on strike at midnight.

Flights from SAS subsidiaries, SAS Connect, SAS Link, Cityjet Xfly and Air Baltic were unlikely to be directly affected by the pilot strike.

The SAS management and SPF have been in intensive negotiations for several weeks on a new collective agreement.

The Swedish pilot union believes that SAS is circumventing the right to re-employment by using staff from two subsidiaries as temporary labourers. 

Some 560 pilots who were laid off during the pandemic have not been re-employed.

After negotiations continued all night last night, the situation remains unclear but is progressing, according to the chief negotiator.

“We regret this situation we are in but we actually try everything we can,” says Marianne Hernæs.

Harsh criticism

On Friday, Norwegian put heavy pressure on SAS when the Norwegian pilot union threatened to drive the company into bankruptcy.

The Swedish pilot union also sharply criticized SAS’s negotiating position on Friday.

“An employer who tries to organize away from employer responsibility and agreements entered into by starting a letterbox company has nothing to do with the Swedish labor market and lacks justification for existence”, Martin Lindgren, chairman of the SAS section at the Swedish Pilot Association, said in a written comment to TT.