SAS pilots’ strike scheduled to begin on June 29th

A strike involving around 1,000 SAS pilots is scheduled to begin on June 29th, according to a second strike notice issued by the pilots’ trade union on Wednesday.

A SAS airplane prepares to land at Longyearbyen Airport in Norway's Svalbard archipelago
A SAS airplane prepares to land at Longyearbyen Airport in Norway's Svalbard archipelago, in May 2022. Photo: Jonathan NACKSTRAND / AFP

The second strike warning is a normal step after a first notice, which was issued by the pilots last week.

Despite a second notice having been issued, it is not certain that strike action will actually take place. This is because the pilots could still reach an agreement with SAS prior to the confirmed date of the planned strike.

Should it go ahead as scheduled, the strike will take effect simultaneously for pilots in Norway, Sweden and Denmark. Pilots in the three Nordic countries have separate trade unions but the planned strike action is coordinated between them.

Danish pilots’ trade union, Dansk Pilotforening, last week issued the initial strike warning. The Danish union is part of SAS Pilot Group, which represents SAS pilots in Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

Pilots with the airline in Sweden and Norway also issued strike notices in line with the Danish announcement.

The collective bargaining agreement by which the pilots’ salary and working terms are determined expired in April. Pilots are currently working under the terms of the expired deal.

But the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement also means that the pilots are not bound by a commitment not to strike. They can therefore legally do so provided they give two weeks’ notice.

The creation of two SAS subsidiaries, SAS Connect and SAS Link, is reported to have generated an obstacle in negotiations over a new collective agreement.

READ ALSO: What is a Danish collective bargaining agreement?

Meetings between the various parties are ongoing this week under the auspices of the Swedish negotiating institution for collective bargaining agreements, Danish news wire Ritzau writes.

The dispute between the two sides comes as SAS leadership attempts to implement a recovery plan for the airline, which is mired in debt.

SAS wants to raise capital by selling shares and also has a cost-cutting plan in place.


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Struggling Scandinavian carrier SAS gets $700m loan

Ailing Scandinavian airline SAS, which filed for bankruptcy protection in the United States in early July, said Sunday it had secured a 700-million-dollar loan.

Struggling Scandinavian carrier SAS gets $700m loan

The move follows a crippling 15-day pilot strike, also in July, that cost the carrier between $9 and $12 million a day.

The pilots were protesting against salary cuts demanded by management as part of a restructuring plan aimed at ensuring the survival of the company.

READ ALSO: SAS strike affected 380,000 passengers in July

SAS said it has entered “into a debtor-in-possession (DIP) financing credit agreement for $700 million with funds managed by Apollo Global Management”.

SAS had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the United States and said the “DIP financing, along with cash generated from the company’s ongoing operations, enables SAS to continue meeting its obligations throughout the chapter 11 process”.

“With this financing, we will have a strong financial position to continue supporting our ongoing operations throughout our voluntary restructuring process in the US,” SAS board chairman Carsten Dilling said.

SAS management announced in February the savings plan to cut costs by 7.5 billion Swedish kronor ($700 million), dubbed “SAS Forward”, which was supplemented in June by a plan to increase capital by nearly one billion euros ($1.04 billion).

Denmark and Sweden are the biggest shareholders with 21.8 percent each.

“We can now focus entirely on accelerating the implementation our SAS FORWARD plan, and to continue our more than 75-year legacy of being the leading airline in Scandinavia.”

SAS employs around 7,000 people, mainly in Denmark, Norway and Sweden. It has suffered a string of losses since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020.