Scandinavian Airlines dismissed 100 flight attendants who oppose plans to separate crew rest areas from the passenger cabin with a curtain instead of a wall.

Four Airbus Group NV A330 jets deployed on shorter inter- continental routes such as Stockholm to Chicago will feature staff sleep zones fitted with the less-costly curtains during an overhaul in 2015, parent SAS Group said today.

Negotiations with Swedish employees, whose labor agreement requires sleep areas to be partitioned from the rest of the plane, have dragged on for almost a year without resolution, according to the tri-national carrier. The company has given notice to 100 staff and now plans to crew the flights with attendants from Norway, where collective accords differ.

Refurbishment of the A330s is “customer-oriented” and aimed at remaining competitive rather than adding seats, SAS spokesman Henrik Edstroem said from Stockholm, where the company is based, adding that curtains are “the standard design” on the model, with walls more expensive and taking up more space.

Rest areas are designed to provide flight attendants with a retreat from passengers during longer trips, allowing for down time or several hours of sleep, depending on the service.

While new models such as the Airbus A350 and Boeing Co. 787 feature specially designed crew zones, on older planes staff can find themselves squeezed into confined areas or even housed in a screened-off area of the main cabin. Pilots, for whom sleep can be vital, get more spacious accommodation.

SAS has delayed earnings targets while auctioning assets and cutting jobs in an effort to return to profit while fending off competition from network rivals and low-cost carriers Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA and Ryanair Holdings Plc.

SAS plans to expand its long-haul network with routes from Oslo and Stockholm to North America and Asia starting in the second half of next year. It added a direct flight between the oil centers of Stavanger, Norway, and Houston, Texas, in August.

To contact the reporters on this story: Veronica Ek in Stockholm at vek@bloomberg.net; Kari Lundgren in London at klundgren2@bloomberg.net. To contact the editors responsible for this story: Benedikt Kammel at bkammel@bloomberg.net. 

Photo Credit: An SAS aircraft in Frankfurt, Germany. Angelo DeSatis / Flickr