Strike action by pilots at SAS Scandinavian Airlines is already stretching into its sixth day and the airline has announced a swathe of cancellations for both April 30 and May 1. The airline says that 47,000 travelers will be affected on May 1 as a result of 504 flights not operating across Scandinavia.
By the end of tomorrow, the dispute will have affected 326,917 passengers who had planned to travel on 3,306 flights. Some 1,400 members of the Swedish, Danish and Norwegian pilots' unions are not working and this is impacting domestic, European and long-haul services. Flights operated by the airline's partners and its Irish subsidiary are not affected by the industrial action.
The dispute centres around demands for a 13% salary increase and greater predictability of work schedules (five on, four off work patterns), including parity with those working for Ryanair and easyJet. It is claimed that pilots have been offered a representative pay rise based on cost of living but are holding out for more.
The region's labour arbiters claim the parties are so far apart that there is currently no prospect of a compromise that is likely to be acceptable to both sides.
Many - but not all - SAS Scandinavian Airlines flights remain grounded as pilots continue their strike action. (Tyler McDowell)
Rickard Gustafson, President & CEO of the airline said: "I am deeply concerned that the pilot strike hasn’t been resolved and that it is continuing to affect our customers. The consequences are serious for all travelers, for society and also for all our employees who are working around the clock to help everyone. The demands made by the pilots’ unions entail significant cost increases for SAS that would threaten the company’s long-term competitiveness and consequently, the jobs of all SAS’ employees. SAS has clearly stated that we are prepared to continue negotiating and find a solution. The unions have not yet indicated that they are ready to release their ultimate demands and return to the negotiating table, which means that we remain in a deadlock."
KJM Today carried a feature on SAS Scandinavian Airlines that was written by Kevan James and posted two days ago. Click on the link for further details of the airline's history and operations: Scandinavian Resurgency
(see also the related story over strike action in News Commentary)
Editorial Opinion: The global economy depends on air travel - businesses rely on their staff being able to move between sites and to meetings with clients or partners, while travel service provides and hotels rely on the flow of tourists to operate at acceptable margins. While an airline strike is devastating for the customers caught up in the mess, it also creates havoc across a wider economy. In some countries there are reserved occupations and staff working in these roles are not allowed to strike. Airline travel is not so essential that it falls into this category (with the exception of air traffic control and safety and security related functions) because there are alternatives available - even if the competition is full and seat prices are at their highest. However, both sides in this dispute need to do their utmost to resolve the issue as expediently as possible Talks deadlocked is not an acceptable term - not for the industry, and not for its customers.
Text © The Aviation Oracle