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Tuesday, February 7, 2023

A labor agreement between SAS and its Scandinavian pilots ends the costly strike

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The 15-day pilot strike that affected thousands of passengers and cost the Scandinavian airline SAS millions of dollars in missed income and expenses has been resolved thanks to an agreement reached with the pilots.

The two sides were at odds over SAS’s ambitions to reduce expenses as part of its SAS Forward restructuring program, which the company claims is essential for its survival.

Now that 5.5-year collective bargaining agreements have been reached, more pilot hours will be worked and the unit cost of the SAS Scandinavia pilots will decrease. Additionally, SAS has promised to rehire 450 pilots on a full-time basis. The parties have also agreed to drop the lawsuit that some of the company’s pilots had filed against it.

Unions claimed that SAS had compelled pilots who had been laid off during the epidemic to reapply for their previous jobs at new, less expensive units.

According to SAS, the agreement with its pilots was a crucial part of its restructuring strategy and would enable the airline to obtain the necessary investment. The labor agreement needs to be approved by union members and the US court because the airline is now undergoing chapter 11 restructuring in the US.

“With these agreements in place, the pilots are doing their part in this difficult situation,” commented SAS Chief Executive Anko van der Werff. “The strike has been a tough situation for our customers, for our employees, and for our company as a whole. I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to all of my SAS colleagues who have worked tirelessly these past weeks to help our customers.”

Overall, 3,700 flights were canceled due to the strike, affecting 380,000 passengers, and costing SAS SEK 100–130 million (US$9.5–12.5 million) per day in lost income and expenses. According to SAS, the strike’s overall financial impact is anticipated to reach SEK 1.5 billion (US$145 million).

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