Scandinavian Airlines pilot strike sees nearly all flights cancelled, affecting 72,000 passengers

Boeing 747 carrying the Discovery space shuttle

Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) pilots in Norway, Sweden and Denmark went on strike on Friday (April 26) as wage talks broke down, triggering queues at airports as the carrier cancelled around 70 per cent of its flights.

Mina Kvam Tveteraas and her friend Bettina Svendsen were stranded at Stavanger Airport in Norway after their flight to Copenhagen was cancelled.

Passengers traveling with SAS on Friday are advised to check their flight status.

The SAS Pilot group has said that their salary requests are in line with the market rate, while SAS negotiators have called their requests "unreasonable and extreme".

The airline hoped to reach an agreement as soon as possible.

"Many of the SAS pilots today do not have control over where, when and how long they should work".

The company said the strike doesn't include flights operated by SAS partner airlines, making up approximately 30 per cent of its departures, and is not expected to affect other airlines' departures and arrivals. According to the airline's website some services departing from and returning to Finland were due to fly on Friday morning.

"As a outcome of the strike, domestic, European and long-haul flights have been canceled, and thousands of travelers will be affected", it said in a statement.

The pilots' association said work schedules, and not wages, were the main focus of the negotiations, as most SAS pilots have to work at variable times and days.

SAS is in the midst of renewing an ageing fleet after spending years cutting costs in the face of competition from budget carriers such as Norwegian Air Shuttle and Ryanair.

'Almost one in four SAS flights is flown by subcontractors and we want to know what our future looks like, ' he told Sweden's TT news agency.

The airline reported a bigger than expected loss for its fiscal first quarter in February, but said it still expected to run a profit for the full year.

SAS contacted most passengers before the cancellations to warn them of the strike and offered to rebook them at no extra cost.

The Swedish Confederation of Transport Enterprises meanwhile said it could not accept the 13-percent wage increase demanded by the pilots, given their "already high average wage of 93,000 kronor ($9,769) a month".



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