SHARE
COPY LINK

STRIKES

What the SAS strike means for travellers in Sweden

As many as 900 pilots from airline SAS are striking after the company and the pilots' unions failed to reach an agreement before Monday afternoon's deadline. Here's how it affects travel from Sweden.

Cancelled departures at Arlanda airport in Stockholm.
Cancelled departures at Arlanda airport in Stockholm. Photo: Ali Lorestani / TT

Scandinavian airline SAS and pilots’ unions in Norway, Denmark and Sweden have failed to reach an agreement to prevent a strike, meaning 900 pilots will go on strike this week.

“How on earth is a strike in the busiest week of the last two-and-a-half years going to help us find and attract investors,” SAS chief executive Anko van der Werff told reporters, criticising what he called a “strike culture” among pilots.

SAS and unions had set a deadline of midday Monday to strike a deal. The strike comes after the two parties agreed to extend the deadline for talks several times in the hopes of coming to an agreement.

The pilots are employed by SAS’s parent company, SAS Scandinavia, and announced strike action because they are unsatisfied with their salary and working conditions.

“We deeply regret that our customers are affected by this strike, leading to delays and cancelled flights,” van der Werff said in a statement.

On Tuesday SAS said it had filed for so-called Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings in the United
States, as a part of a restructuring plan.

 The mechanism allows a company to restructure its debts under court supervision while continuing to operate.

Asked why the company chose to initiate the proceedings in the US, rather than Sweden where it is headquartered, Dilling said they had considered several countries where they could file, but “ended up concluding that the US framework is the right one for the company.”

SAS offers passengers the opportunity to rebook

Passengers can rebook equivalent flights for free and are advised to check whether their flight will be affected, SAS said in updated information issued on its website.

“As a precaution SAS offers passengers booked on SAS flights between July 4th – July 9th 2022 the option of rebooking the ticket, free of charge. Passengers can rebook to a SAS flight on another date, within the next 360 days, to the same destination if the same service class as the original ticket is available,” the airline said.

To see if their flight is likely to be affected, passengers are advised to check the status of their flight on the SAS website. Rebookings can be made via the “My Bookings” section.

Passengers who booked their ticket via a travel agent or tour operator should contact them directly, SAS said.

Rebooking may take longer than usual, especially for passengers contacting the airline over the phone. However, the airline also said that there were waiting times for its chat service too.

“SAS apologises for the unusually long waiting times right now on chat and phone and are doing everything we can to assist our customers,” it said.

Sweden flights 

SAS has said that up to 30,000 passengers a day could be affected by the strike.

Flights with SAS subsidiaries SAS Link, SAS Connect, and Air Baltic  CityJet  and, XFLY wouldn’t be affected by the strike.

SAS can continue to fly approximately 40 percent of their aircraft, according to flight analyst Jan Ohlsson in Morgonstudion. According to him, the strike will cost about 100 million Swedish kronor a day for the company.

Ohlsson has warned that due to the high pressure of the number of travellers affected, it will be difficult for people to get help rebooking.

“People have to fight for themselves and stand on their own two feet”, Ohlsson told newswire TT.

Passengers at Arlanda Airport were left shocked on Monday when their flights were cancelled at such short notice and told TT of their frustrations trying to rebook.

What are passengers rights? 

Passengers whose tickets are cancelled will have some rights under EU legislation. These include the right to choose between getting your money back, getting the next available flight, or changing the booking completely for a later date. 

You are also entitled to assistance free of charge, including refreshments, food, accommodation (if you are rebooked to travel the next day), transport, and communication (two telephone calls, for example). This is regardless of the reasons for cancellation.

EU air passenger rights apply to you if your flight is within the EU or Schengen zone, if it arrives in the EU/Schengen zone from outside the bloc and is operated by an EU-based airline, or if it departs from the EU/ Schengen zone.

READ MORE: What are your rights if flights are delayed or cancelled?

 

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

SAS

SAS ‘reaches deal’ with pilots to end strike

Airline SAS and striking pilots reached an agreement on Monday night to bring an end to the strike that has seen hundreds of flights cancelled in recent days, according to reports. However the airline later said that more work was needed to finalise the deal.

SAS 'reaches deal' with pilots to end strike

Representatives of pilots unions and the airline SAS spoke to the press on Monday about an agreement being reached and the strike ending. 

“We have a deal, all that remains now is to get the last signatures on paper,” Carsten Dilling, the airline’s chair, told Sweden’s Dagens Industri newspaper before SAS said that talks were continuing.

“What I’m hearing from the negotiation room is that we have a deal,” a spokesperson for Dansk Metal, one of the unions representing SAS pilots, told Reuters, adding the agreement was not yet finalised.

However later on Monday SAS released a statement denying that any deal had been finalised.

“Due to the speculation in the media, SAS wants to clarify that no agreement has yet been signed between the two parties. The mediation process continues,” the airline wrote on its website after several reports emerged that the company and pilots had agreed to end the strike. 

“While the mediation has moved in the right direction, no agreement has yet been signed,” the airline said.

But news reports suggest that the deal is all but done but that it wasn’t good news for pilots.

Levi Skogvang, chair of the Norwegian pilots union, told the Dagbladet newspaper that he was not pleased with the five-year agreement that had been made, but that it was good enough to bring the strike to an end.

“It’s a tragedy for the pilots, looked at solely on the basis of their contracts, but it’s good that we’re done and that we can get the planes up in the air again,” he told the newspaper.

“We have not managed to negotiate an improvement in our terms, but only got worse terms. It’s not a nice thing to do. The only thing that is nice is that we have a deal, and that we can get the planes up in the air again.” 

According to Norway’s state broadcaster NRK, under the deal, the pilots have agreed not to go on strike or seek higher pay for five years, and in return, the 560 pilots who were laid off during the pandemic will be given back their jobs. 

Newspaper VG reports that Aleksander Wasland, leader of the Norwegian Pilots’ Association, had told NRK that 450 pilots got their jobs back, before the comment was later officially withdrawn by the broadcaster. 

A majority of SAS pilots in Sweden, Denmark and Norway walked out on July 4 triggering a strike that SAS has said cost it between $94 million and $123 million a day, Reuters reported.

The strike also coincides with the busy summer season in northern Europe, normally a time for airlines to cash in on holidaymakers.

The Local will update this story as we get more information.

SHOW COMMENTS