SAS and pilot unions agree to resume talks on Wednesday

Pilot unions in Denmark, Sweden and Norway are to restart negotiations with SAS on Wednesday, after the Scandinavian airline offered to make concessions.

SAS and pilot unions agree to resume talks on Wednesday
Scandinavian airline SAS aircraft of the type Airbus A321 and A320 Neo are parked at Kastrup airport on July 4, 202 after the 900 pilots at SAS went on strike. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT/AFP

“We can confirm that negotiations will be restarted on Wednesday morning in Stockholm, ” the Swedish Air Line Pilots Association (SPF), told Sweden’s TT newswire, with both the Danish and Norwegian unions making similar statements. 

SAS announced in a press release on on Monday night that it now wanted to return to the negotiating table, and was willing to make concessions. 

“SAS understands that continuing the mediation requires concessions from both sides, and SAS is willing to take its responsibility in the process,” it said. 

READ ALSO: What’s the latest in the SAS pilot strike?

The decision to resume talks came a week after nearly 1,000 SAS pilots went on strike, leading to the cancellation of more than 2,000 flights, and tens of thousands of passengers either unable to take their holidays, or stranded in their holiday destinations.  

The company said it hoped to strike a new collective bargaining agreement, which would allow flights to return to normal. 

Both the Danish airline analyst Hans Jørgen Elnæs and Jacob Pedersen, an analyst at Sydbank, told TT that the conflict could be solved quickly once talks resumed. 

“I think we’re talking about a matter of days,” Elnæs said, with Pedersen also predicting that it would be “days, not weeks before the the parties can complete the negotiations”. 

“It will then of course take a few more days before air traffic can get back to normal again,” Pedersen added. 

Henrik Thyregod, chair of the Danish pilot union, said that the two sides had been close to agreement the weekend before the strike broke out.

“We actually had an agreement last Saturday, where we had reached the goals we needed to reach a deal,” he told Denmark’s Ritzau newswire. “So we’ll show up and see what they say.” 

Thyregod said he did not intend to bring anything new to the negotiating table.

“I have had member meetings in the meantime. I think it’s unrealistic to imagine that anyone would be willing to offer much more than we did. There was a demand for [cost] savings of 800 million Swedish kroner, and I think we found at least the bulk of that money.” 

The pilots are demanding that the 560 SAS pilots who were laid off during the pandemic be rehired on the same terms that they had before they lost their jobs. This would mean they would be hired directly by SAS, rather than by one of its subsidiaries SAS Link and SAS Connect, which have a different collective bargaining agreement, and act a little like temping agencies for pilots. 

The strike has been costing the airline around 100m Swedish kronor a day. 

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Struggling Scandinavian carrier SAS gets $700 mn 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 $700 mn 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.