SAS says it has reached an agreement with pilots unions, ending a 15-day strike

A Scandinavian Airlines plane, known as SAS, an Airbus A320-200 takes off from the airport in Palma de Mallorca, Spain.

Paul Hanna | Reuters

SAS Scandinavian Airlines said on Tuesday that pilots’ unions had reached an agreement on wages, ending a 15-day strike over a new collective bargaining agreement that brought 3,700 flights to a halt. and put the company’s future in doubt.

SAS, which filed for US bankruptcy protection on the second day of the strike, said the industrial action has cost more than $145 million to date and affected 380,000 passengers during the season. Summer peak travel.

The labor conflict is the latest in Europe’s aviation sector as millions of workers grapple with rising costs of living, prompting unions to demand higher wages and walk away. discount and disrupt travel.

Even before the pandemic hit, SAS was still losing money amid increasing competition from low-cost carriers. The largest owners of the company are Swedish and Danish taxpayers.

The airline says the new 5-1/2-year agreement with four pilot unions will help it achieve part of the $700 million annual cost savings outlined in its business transformation plan. also includes measures such as returning unwanted aircraft to the lessor.

“We are finally able to resume normal operations and bring our customers into the summer holidays they’ve come to expect so much,” SAS CEO Anko van der Werff said in a statement. “I am deeply sorry that so many of our passengers have been affected by this strike.”

Some flights will continue to be disrupted while the airline operates to restore normal traffic, the company said.

SAS says the agreement with pilots involves greater productivity, increased flexibility in seasonal capacity and a commitment, as operations increase through 2024, to resupply 450 laid-off pilots. during the pandemic.

The deal will allow the airline to finalize a plan in the next few weeks to raise $700 million in new financing needed to get through bankruptcy protection, the company said.

The final agreement still has to be approved by unions and US federal courts, SAS added. It is expected to receive that approval within weeks.

Earlier, the airline said the US Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection process is expected to last between nine and 12 months.

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