More than 1,200 SAS flights cancelled, affecting 110,000 passengers

SAS rejects compensation claims as pilot strike rolls

SAS pilots went on strike on Friday as wage talks broke down, grounding around 70 per cent of the airline's flights and impacting about 280,000 passengers including the latest cancellations.

The SAS Pilot Group, a union body representing 95 per cent of the airline's pilots in Denmark, Norway and Sweden, has said the dispute concerns more than wages, pointing to demands for more predictable working hours.

It plans to cancel another 1,213 flights on Monday and Tuesday, hitting some 110,000 passengers.

So far, over 170,000 passengers have been affected by the strike. "Flights operated by SAS' partners will not be affected by the strike", SAS wrote in a press release. Many travelers have decided not to show up to the airport thinking that their flight will be canceled - causing delays in the rebooking efforts.

The CEO of the airline, Rickard Gustafson, told Reuters that the pilot walkout had negatively impacted the company's business, which is part-owned by the governments of Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. The airline said that it was offering passengers booked on flights through the 1st of May to reschedule their flights free of charge.

The pilots' association say work schedules, not wages, are their main gripe as most SAS pilots have to work at variable times and days and sometimes have to work several weekends in a row.

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There is no sign of when talks might resume on a new collective bargaining agreement.

In Sweden, the pilots requested wage increases of 13 per cent, while mediators offered 2.3 per cent, in line with general wage hikes, which the employers accepted.

"We deeply regret that our customers are affected", said the airline.

The negotiations between airline pilot trade unions have been underway since March.

Financial analysts estimate that the strike cost SAS about 60-80 million SEK (6.3-8.41 million USD) per day.

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