Fresh SAS woe as strike grounds 110,000 travellers

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Pilots demanding better pay and conditions walked off the job in Sweden, Denmark and Norway on Friday and the disruption is now expected to hit some 280,000 travellers overall /AFP/File
By :

AFP

Copenhagen – A further 110,000 air passengers faced being left grounded after Scandinavian carrier SAS on Sunday cancelled 1,213 flights as pilot strike action spiralled.

Pilots demanding better pay and conditions walked off the job in Sweden, Denmark and Norway on Friday and the disruption is now expected to hit some 280,000 travellers overall.

SAS had initially predicted that 170,000 passengers would be affected by the end of Sunday, but now says a further 667 Monday flights and 546 more due Tuesday will be annulled.

The stoppage by 1,409 pilots is affecting domestic, European and long-haul flights.

The Swedish Air Line Pilots Association, which initiated the strike, said Friday that months of talks had failed to find a solution to pilots’ “deteriorating work conditions, unpredictable work schedules and job insecurity”.

But the Swedish Confederation of Transport Enterprises insists it cannot accept a demand for a 13-percent wage increase, given their “already high average wage of 93,000 kronor (8,766 euros, $9,769) a month”.

The pilots’ association say work schedules, not wages, are their main gripe as most SAS pilots have to work at variable times and days and sometimes have to work several weekends in a row.

SAS has implemented repeated savings programmes in recent years to improve its profitability, after almost going bankrupt in 2012.

In the first quarter of 2019, the airline widened its losses, impacted by negative exchange effects and high fuel prices.

It posted a net loss of 469 million kronor, compared to 249 million a year earlier.

Although the carrier forecast a full-year profit Danish bank Sydbank on Friday predicted the strike would cost SAS 60 to 80 million kronor ($6 million to $8 million) per day.

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