After contract negotiations with its pilots unions ended without a resolution, Scandinavian airline SAS announced on Monday that it would have to cancel almost half of its planned schedule.
Pilots have gone on strike with immediate effect after the two parties were unable to come to an agreement on a number of issues, including salary, working conditions, and who really employs the pilots that fly for SAS.
The walkout is the most recent setback in Europe’s aviation industry’s effort to recover from the worst of the pandemic.
At the same time as cabin staff at Ryanair and EasyJet are threatening or have actually organized strikes across Europe, strike action has recently disrupted operations at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport.
Making matters worse, a rise in travel demand has emboldened unhappy employees in Europe’s aviation industry, which is already experiencing staff shortages.
As it works to fund the struggling carrier after pandemic losses forced the firm to the verge of collapse, SAS warned the pilots’ strike will be “devastating” for its business.
“Since the notice of conflict was delivered on June 9, mediation between the pilots’ unions and SAS has been held,” the airline said in a statement.
“The strike follows as a consequence of the parties having been unable to reach an agreement. SAS wishes to continue mediation to be able to reach an agreement and end the strike as soon as possible,” the statement continued.
As the airline started to ace services, SAS chief executive, Anko van der Werff commented; “We deeply regret that our customers are affected by this strike, leading to delays and canceled flights.”
“We know all our passengers have been longing for this summer holiday and have booked travels for themselves and their loved ones. SAS employees are working hard to help our customers that have been affected by this unfortunate situation.”
The strikes might affect up to 300,000 passengers per day, and according to SAS, the possibilities for rebooking impacted passengers will be constrained because the majority of its services were already fully booked.
A drastic cost-cutting plan and refinancing have been proposed by SAS to keep the airline afloat, but many stakeholders are unwilling to invest more shares in the company.
Major revisions to the pilots’ contract were proposed by SAS, including the option of using outside firms to hire flight crew.
The pilots’ unions have rejected these proposals and instead are calling for wage hikes to keep pace with the inflationary surge.