Scandinavian airline SAS and its pilot unions reached a deal late on Monday that ended a 15-day strike.

The multi-year accord includes needed cost savings and productivity improvements for the airline, SAS said. And pilots received a commitment from the carrier to rehire 450 furloughed crew members, as well as SAS’s backing of a $97 million (1 billion Swedish kroner) unsecured claim by the unions in its Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding.

But the strike came at a cost for SAS. The airline was forced to file for bankruptcy in the U.S. the day after crews walked out on July 4; a process that is expected to take up to a year to complete and does not come with the guarantee of success for SAS. In addition, the airline cancelled roughly 3,700 flights over the 15-day industrial action that cost it at least $145 million.

SAS Airbus A320 landing at London Heathrow
(Matt Kieffer/Flickr)

“With these agreements in place, the pilots are doing their part in this difficult situation,” SAS CEO Anko van der Werff said in a statement. “We now get on with the important work of progressing our transformation plan SAS Forward and building a strong and competitive SAS for generations to come … The strike has been a tough situation for our customers, for our employees, and for our company as a whole.”

Despite the agreement, SAS had cancelled 99 flights — or 32 percent of its schedule — as of 10:00 a.m. in Europe on Tuesday, according to flight tracking website FlightAware. The airline warned travelers that flight disruptions are expected to “continue during the following days” as it returns to normal operations.


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Tags: europe, sas, strikes