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May 24 2007

SAS Strike Traffic Crisis Prep Underway in SWEDEN

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , — Administrator @ 22:55PM

SAS cancels Friday flights as Strike Looms – Companies threaten to sever ties with SAS

The Scandinavian Airlines System cabin crew union in Sweden HTF has rejected the latest and final offer from the airline’s management. HTF has called on all its 800 members to come out on strike from 5:00 AM on Friday.

SAS management has threatened a lock out from May 28.

While SAS management had accepted two proposals put forward by mediators, HTF officials rejected both.

HTF has presented SAS management with a list of 38 demands, including changes in staff meal times.

Scandinavian airline SAS cancelled almost all its domestic and European flights on Friday. “We have cancelled almost all flights tomorrow, except direct flights to the US, China and some European destinations,” SAS Sweden chief executive Anders Ehrling said at a press conference. “It hurts me to make this decision, but the threat of a strike forces us to cancel flights now as we don’t want to risk stranding our customers at airports tomorrow,” he added.

“We will continue to negotiate in order to find a solution,” Ehrling said, adding that there was no indication as to how long the conflict might continue.

According to a SAS spokeswoman, between 250 and 300 flights will be affected. Flights to the US, China and London will fly according to schedule as will some domestic flights and flights to Copenhagen, Oslo and Helsinki.

Two major corporate customers have threatened to sever their ties with Scandinavian Airlines (SAS). Electrolux and Ericsson are both considering flying with other airline.


Hans Stråberg, CEO of Electrolux, expressed his concerns in a private letter to his counterpart at SAS Sweden, Anders Ehrling. The Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet published a copy of the letter on Wednesday afternoon.

“Whatever the reasons, I can only say that this affects us as customers of SAS and is not something that we can accept,” wrote StrÃ¥berg. The Electrolux chief added that he was worried because thousands of his employees fly with the Scandinavian carrier every year. “I would like Electrolux to remain a customer of SAS but our patience has its limits,” he wrote.

Similar sentiments were expressed later in the day by telecoms giant Ericsson, which referred to itself as the airline’s second biggest customer.

“We use SAS an awful lot. We are very much dependent on their infrastructure functioning in Scandinavia. “Air travel is like telecommunications; it has to work,” spokeswoman Ã…se Lindskog told news agency TT. Recent strike threats have meant that Ericsson has begun looking at alternatives. “That’s what we are doing. We are looking at other services, the upshot of which will be that we get used to flying with other airlines instead,” said Lindskog, who would not rule out a permanent move away from SAS.

A decision is to be made on Friday morning regarding possible cancellations of Saturday flights and the airline encourages customers to follow the SAS web site for updates.

Some 20,000 passengers are expected to be hit by the strike that is estimated to cost SAS over 20 million kronor ($2.92 million).

A three-day strike by SAS’ Danish cabin crew last month led to the cancellation of 685 flights in and out of Copenhagen. SAS was already hit in March by a similar strike after the airline failed to reach a collective agreement with the 1,600-member Cabin Attendants Union.

SJ, the Swedish Railroad company have said that they will put in extra cars on their trains, and Swebus, a major Swedish bus company have said that they will put in extra buses on their routes – this will help people to get to where they are going, or at least a part of the way… (Both SJ and Swebus have routes that goes between Norway, Sweden and Denmark.)
Normally when there is an accident that stops train traffic, they put in buses instead, and when the planes can’t take off for some reason, they need to get their passengers at least to another airport, and this is usually done by using buses. A few years ago, there was an accident down in the south of Sweden, and the train tracks were blocked for about a week. People going by train between Malmö and Gothenburg had to get off the train and switch to buses that took them the rest of the way.

If you have been planning an early vacation this summer, a plane trip to some tourist resort maybe, now might be a good idea to start thinking about doing something else – who knows when this will be settled…

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