Mediation talks grind on as SAS pilots strike enters seventh day

Scandinavian Airlines SAS’ Airbus A320-200 airplane takes off from the airport in Palma de Mallorca July 29, 2018. — Reuters pic
Scandinavian Airlines SAS’ Airbus A320-200 airplane takes off from the airport in Palma de Mallorca July 29, 2018. — Reuters pic

OSLO, May 2 — Scandinavian airline SAS and unions were locked in overnight mediation talks as a pilot strike that has grounded almost 400,000 passengers entered its seventh day today.

SAS has cancelled more than 700 flights scheduled for today.

“The will is there to solve the situation,” Norwegian Pilots’ Union President Yngve Carlsen told reporters on his way in to the Norwegian state mediator’s office where the parties worked overnight to try to resolve the dispute.

“I am more optimistic now than I was yesterday,” Carlsen added, but declined to offer a timeline as to when the strike could end.

The pilots are seeking higher wages and have other demands. The aviation industry’s employer body in Sweden has said pilots demanded a 13 per cent wage hike, despite what it called already high average wages of 93,000 Swedish crowns (RM40,345) a month.

Analysts estimate the stand-off over wages and other demands by pilots in Sweden, Norway and Denmark could cost SAS as much as US$10.5 million a day, threatening to wipe out the airline’s annual profit in short order.

SAS shares, whose primary listing in Stockholm which was closed on May 1, were up 8 per cent today on the news of the resumption of talks.

More than 4,000 flights have been cancelled affecting some 380,000 travellers since the strike began on April 26. — Reuters