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.

November 16, 2022
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Tags: europe, sas, strikes