Swedish pilots end SAS strike; airline to resume flights

A pilot strike that disrupted hundreds of flights operated by Scandinavian airline SAS ended Tuesday after a Swedish pilots union and employers agreed amid mediated wage talks.

The disruptions began Friday when the Swedish pilots union called on 400 pilots to walk off work because of a dispute about wages.

Since Friday, about 100,000 passengers have been affected by the labour action. Hundreds of domestic Swedish and European flights - including to other Nordic capitals, as well as Frankfurt, Paris and London - were disrupted.

SAS cancelled 240 flights on Tuesday, affecting about 25,500 passengers.

After the deal was announced shortly after 5 pm (1500 GMT), pilots were to return to work immediately. SAS cautioned that delays were expected to run into Wednesday.

The pilots accepted a 2.2 per cent raise for the one-year deal, as initially offered by the employers.

"We have a collective bargaining agreement with a joint pay scale, we are satisifed," Martin Lindgren, President of the Swedish Pilots Union told reporters.

SAS chief executive Rickard Gustafson expressed "relief" that the dispute had been settled.

Gustafson welcomed that the agreed wage increase was in line with that offered to other groups.

He declined to say what the conflict had cost the company, adding that the focus was to ensure that services would return to normal "as soon as possible."

The bid was accepted after the Swedish Pilots Union and the Swedish Aviation Industry Group, which organizes employers, met with national mediators earlier on Tuesday. 

Long-haul flights were not affected during the conflict, the airline said.

The union said it had wanted wage increases of 3.5 per cent but accepted the new deal with the revisions in the collective bargaining agreement. SAS pilots said they wanted compensation for wage cuts and other concessions they made in 2012 when the company was in dire straits.

Danish and Norwegian pilots were flying as normal, the company said.

The airline - whose main owners are the governments of Denmark, Norway and Sweden - is facing stiff competition from low-cost carriers such as Norwegian Air Shuttle.

Last update: Tue, 14/06/2016 - 21:51
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