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SAS

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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SAS

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.

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