Over 60% of SAS flights have already been cancelled today as the airline faces a strike from pilots that has crippled operations and now led to a meltdown.
As Pilots Strike, SAS Suffers Meltdown With Over 60% Of Flights Cancelled
SAS (Scandinavian Airlines System) is facing a labor battle that its CEO warns could sink the flag carrier of three Scandinavian states. Yesterday, 174 flights were cancelled, representing 52% of SAS’s total schedule. Today, that number has already reached 185 flights, representing 62% of the schedule according to Flight Aware. Anko van der Werff, the President and CEO of SAS, lamented:
“A strike at this point is devastating for SAS and puts the company’s future together with the jobs of thousands of colleagues at stake. The decision to go on strike now demonstrates reckless behavior from the pilots’ unions and a shockingly low understanding of the critical situation that SAS is in.”
Meditation will continue, but the two sides are far apart on a solution that will satisfy pilot demands. In a press release on the strike, SAS warned:
The strike has a negative impact on the liquidity and financial position of the company and, if prolonged, such impact could become material.
But Martin Lindgren, SAS Pilot Group chairman, countered:
“We have finally realized that SAS doesn’t want an agreement. SAS wants a strike. We hope we will be able to return to the negotiating table and meet, but it requires that the employer makes a move.”
If your flight is cancelled, you will have trouble reaching SAS via its contact centers, social media, or at the airports. If you are able to get through, SAS warns options will be limited:
Due to peak season, the possibility to rebook affected customers to equivalent flights will be highly limited. Customers whose flights are canceled, that we are unable to find viable alternatives for, are offered the options of either accepting a refund, or rebooking their ticket to a later date or to arrange alternative means of travel themselves and seek reimbursement from SAS.
This strike likely does qualify for EU261/2004 protection (and even domestic flights within Norway, even though Norway is not an EU member) though expect that to be litigated with an SAS claim that the cancellations constituted “extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken.” You can find more info here.
SAS pilots are on strike, with over half of all SAS flights cancelled yesterday and already more than 60% this morning. If your flight is impacted, be realistic and look into alternate options – it is unlikely SAS can offer much assistance at this point. And if your flight is spared, it might not be for long. This become even messier in the days ahead.