SAS Scandinavian settles pilot strike after loosing 4,000 flights

Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) has reached agreements with its pilot unions, ending six days of strike that disrupted operations in Denmark, Norway and Sweden its and long haul operations globally.

The strike by 1,409 pilots, started April 26, forcing SAS to cancel more than 4,000 flights, affecting about 360,000 passengers.

On May 2 SAS said a three-year agreements had been reached with the SAS Pilots Group, which includes SAS pilots represented by the Danish Pilots Association, the Norwegian SAS Flyers Association, Scandinavian Norway Flygerforening as well as the Swedish Air Line Pilots Association.

The new collective bargaining agreements covers predictability of scheduling, job security and pay increases of 3.5% in 2019, 3% in 2020 and 4% in 2021.

Previously canceled agreements concerning collaboration and career paths have been reintroduced, SAS said, which was one of the key causes of the strike, effectively meaning the airline gave in.

“The three-year agreements provide stability for the future and the terms of the Swedish agreement are on par with the industrial benchmark for the Swedish labor market,” SAS president and CEO Rickard Gustafson said. “SAS operates in a highly competitive market and with these agreements we now need to intensify our work to build a long-term profitable and sustainable SAS.”

“The most important thing for us has been to ensure our members’ job security. We have today succeeded with this important task,” René Arpe, head of the Danish Pilots Association, said in a statement. “We have also reached an agreement giving more stable rostering and predictable working days. The proportion of pilots in the group working five days on four days off is also increased from 40% to 60%.”

SAS flights in Denmark, Norway and Sweden will resume as soon as possible and traffic is expected to normalize over the next few days, the airline said.

The cost of the strike is likely to exceed $50m US and one has to wonder why the airline let it go this far when it effectively caved to demands anyway.