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SAS strike: What can be expected from fresh talks Monday? 

Negotiations to end the SAS pilot strike in Sweden, Denmark and Norway resumed Monday. But are the parties any closer to an agreement, or will talks break down? 

Talks to end the SAS strike in Norway, Sweden and Denmark resumed on Monday morning.
Grounded SAS planes at Arlanda airport near Stockholm. Photo: Jonathan Nackstrand/ AFP

SAS and pilots’ representatives returned to the negotiating table on Monday morning after pausing talks Sunday evening. 

The pause followed a 33-hour negotiation marathon, where the parties continued bargaining through the night on Saturday evening, which analysts had suggested could be a sign the parties were close to an agreement. 

Talks approaching ‘end of the road’

Chief negotiator for SAS, Marianne Hernæs, said today’s talks could be decisive in determining whether a deal could be struck or negotiations break down again. 

“It is starting to become irresponsible to continue. That is where we are approaching today,” she told reporters in Stockholm. 

As well as suggesting that the battle to find an agreement may be “lost” she said that the mediation process would only continue if the parties were close to striking a deal. 

“If we are close to a solution with only a few small things left, then we can consider a couple of hours more, but we will soon be at the end of the road,” Hernæs said. 

She added that a decision on ending mediation talks would be made by SAS management if an agreement isn’t found today. 

Ombudsman Mats Ruland was more optimistic when speaking to the press this morning and said that the parties had made steady progress in recent days. 

“I hope we can get a solution. That is my goal here, and I have not given up yet,” he said to reporters outside Näringslivets Hus, where talks are taking place. 

Jan Levi Skogvang, at talks on behalf of  SAS pilots represented by the union Parat, told Norwegian public broadcaster NRK that unions were also working towards securing a deal which would bring an end to strike action today. 

“We are working to finish, (we) hope SAS does the same,” he said. 

Roger Klokset, chairman of the Norwegian pilot association, told NRK that the group he heads would be willing to continue talks beyond today if necessary. 

Are the parties any closer to an agreement? 

On Sunday, Jacob Pedersen, aviation analyst at Sydbank, predicted that the parties were close to an agreement. 

“I have no other good suggestions other than it must be close. Whether it will be Sunday, Monday or maybe Tuesday is more of an open question,” he told Danish newswire Ritzau. 

READ MORE: Signs of ‘imminent’ agreement as Scandinavian airline SAS and pilots negotiate overnight

Meanwhile, Claes Stråth, one of the mediators involved in the process, said that progress was being made. 

“We have made a list of around 25 areas to be addressed, and many of them have now been reviewed,” he told Swedish newswire TT.

SAS also opened strongly on the Norwegian stock market on Monday morning, rising 8 percent minutes after opening. By 10:30am, shares had increased by 15.41 percent, which indicates the market is optimistic that the parties in Stockholm will be able to find an end to the strike. 

According to NRK, a key sticking point in the negotiations is the duration of the agreement to be made since re-negotiation and strikes won’t be allowed during that period. SAS is pushing for a deal for six, eight, or ten years, while a shorter term would benefit the pilots.  

Pilots are striking over wage cuts demanded by management as part of a restructuring plan to keep the airline afloat and the practice of not re-hiring pilots laid off during the pandemic. 

Axed staff have had to compete against external applications for roles with subsidiaries SAS Link and SAS Connect on less favourable terms than with the main airline SAS Scandinavia.

READ ALSO: Why are SAS pilots on strike?

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TRAVEL NEWS

EXPLAINED: Norway’s plans for a tourist tax 

Norway’s government is looking at options to introduce a tax on tourists and tourism-related activities. Here is what we know so far. 

EXPLAINED: Norway’s plans for a tourist tax 

Around 10 million tourists flock to Norway annually, drawn in by its majestic fjords, world-famous hikes, rugged wilderness and bucket-list activities such as Northern Lights tours. 

Many travellers already remark that the country is incredibly expensive. However, the cost of being a visitor in Norway could soon increase as the government plans to introduce a new tax on tourism-related activities. 

Earlier this week, the minority government consisting of the Labour Party and Centre Party, agreed on a budget for 2023 with the Socialist Left Party. 

Norwegian newswire NTB reports that as part of the agreement, the government would propose introducing a tax on tourism in 2024. The policies will be included in the budget for 2024, which will be presented next autumn. 

A potential tourist tax is still in its early stages, though, with the policy yet to be fully formulated. Still, Norway’s Ministry of Finance has begun exploring options regarding a tourist tax. 

“We have to investigate this and see how such a tax can be designed, both practically and legally. But the idea is that the local communities should be able to be left with more,” Lars Vangen, state secretary in the finance ministry, told NTB. 

The tax could come in the form of tourists paying additional tax on hotels, souvenirs and tourism activities. 

Proposals to pass some of the maintenance and cleaning costs on to tourists have appeared several times in recent years, most recently in the political agreement on which the current government was formed in October last year.

One of the reasons for a tourist tax is that many hotspots are located in small local authorities, where municipalities spend huge amounts each year on the upkeep of attractions, maintenance of key hiking trails and dealing with the pollution and litter caused by visitors.

Earlier this year, the Norwegian region Lofoten, known for its spectacular fjord and mountain scenery, said it would be willing to test-pilot a tourism tax scheme

The Norwegian Hospitality Association (NHO Reiseliv), an employer organisation for the sector, has previously been critical of potential tourist taxes, arguing it would make Norway a less desirable destination. 

READ ALSO: Best things to do in Norway in the winter

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